If you old enough to remember your mom, grandparents or favorite auntie playing the music of Motown on any given Saturday, then you’re old enough to fall in love with the captivating new Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.”
Most of us already know the Motown story. Born in 1960 in Detroit and founded by music executive, Berry Gordy, Motown was the birthplace of some of the most poignant voices in R&B history including Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, and Mary Wells.
“Ain’t Too Proud” is the bio tale of one of Motown’s greatest chart toppers and the most successful R&B group in history, The Temptations. The story is told through the eyes of the group’s founder and oldest surviving member, Otis Williams.
If you think male, R&B in-group drama started with B2K, then think again. The Temptations oozed drama from the moment the group was formed and perpetuated throughout the years by all 24 members. Despite a journey entangled with jealousy, drugs, egomania, male dominance, illness, suicide, domestic abuse, and womanizing, The Temptations are immortalized as a three-time Grammy winning, Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famers with their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The musical is long at over two and a half hours, but you may not notice as you’re catapulted back to the streets of Detroit watching five young, Black men – associates who become friends who become brothers – harmonize and groove their way to the top.
Actors Derrick Baskin (Otis Williams), James Harkness (Paul Williams), Jawan M. Jackson (Melvin Franklin) Jeremey Pope (Eddie Kendricks) and Ephraim Sykes (David Ruffin) each bring their own particular excitement to their roles. Their respectful of the men they embody and yet clearly look like their having fun exploring these complicated lives. The singing is impeccable, the dancing is inspired, but most of all the storytelling is authentic.
The show translates across age ranges and will thrill any fan of soul-stirring R&B classics, but one thing is for sure, it remains unapologetically Black. Written by Dominique Morisseau, “Ain’t Too Proud” is based on “The Temptations” by Otis Williams, who is the nucleus of the musical. As the founder of the group and its longest living member, this is his story to tell including the good, the bad and the down right astounding. It’s one big unbelievable soap opera except the elements of fiction are minimal, all unfolding during a time when Black music was arguably at its best within a country that was embarking upon undeniable change.
If you’re ready to do more than tap your toes to the velvety musings of “Get Ready,” “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “I Wish It Would Rain” and more, check out “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway in New York City.
For more information, visit AintTooProudMusical.com
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