Everything you need to know about 'Ain't Too Proud' at the Imperial Theatre
Here's all you need to know about 'Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations' on Broadway.
The Broadway premiere of Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations is bringing all the hits to the Imperial Theatre. Following regional productions at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and in Toronto, the story of Motown’s all-conquering Temptations landed in New York and began performances on February 28, 2019 and officially opened to rave reviews on March 21.
Find out more about Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations on Broadway here.
What’s the story of Ain't Too Proud - The Life and the Times of the Temptations?
With founding member and last man standing Otis Williams as our guide, Ain’t Too Proud charts the meteoric rise of perhaps the greatest group in R&B history. From humble and troubled beginnings in Detroit (which also included a spell behind bars), Otis emerges and - one-by-one - puts together a talented vocal group of African American men. With the additions of Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, and (eventually) David Ruffin, the classic five of the group who would be known as The Temptations were born.
After catching a break and signing with Berry Gordy’s Motown Records, the hits just kept on coming... But Ain’t Too Proud doesn’t shy away from the darker side of this ensemble’s history, exploring how personal demons constantly threatened it all. From drug addiction and alcoholism to domestic violence and suicide, the path for The Temptations was always filled with tragic obstacles, but as Otis reminds us, it is their music that will live forever.
Who was in the original cast of Ain't Too Proud on Broadway?
Almost the entire original Broadway company has been together since the 2017 world premiere in Berkeley.
Derrick Baskin played Otis Williams, who has previously been seen on the Broadway stage in shows such as Memphis, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Jeremy Pope played Eddie Kendricks, with Ephraim Sykes as David Ruffin. Sykes will now star in the world premiere of MJ The Musical at the Neil Simon Theatre. Jawan M. Jackson played Melvin Franklin, with James Harkness as Paul Williams.
The hard-working, multi-tasking ensemble brings a multitude of characters to life on stage, including familiar faces such as Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Tammi Terrell and The Supremes, just to name a few.
Why should I see Ain't Too Proud on Broadway?
Not only does Ain’t Too Proud shower you with an embarrassment of riches, when it comes to live renditions of all those classic Temptations anthems from “My Girl” to “Just My Imagination” and from “Cloud Nine” to “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” but it also has plenty of meat on the bone in terms of storytelling. In a New York Theatre Guide review, "Full of hard work and drama, personal conflict and social and political revolutions, the story of The Temptations, is also the story of the famed record label Motown. So, it is the story of R&B music and it’s rise on the American music scene. As exemplified by The Temptations, there is absolutely nothing more compelling than that tale."
You get a real sense of the men behind the music. You connect with them through Dominique Morisseau’s writing and through the cast’s energetic yet earnest performances. You rejoice in their triumphs. You become infuriated by the personal conflict within the group, as if you were a sixth member. And you mourn their losses. Whereas some bio-musicals struggle to create an entertaining piece from a less than interesting biography, The Temptations’ story and their tribulations that led to its eternally rotating roster offer up ample, satisfying story arcs for a Broadway musical.
Having Otis constantly breaking the fourth wall as our narrator works perfectly both as a theatrical device and simply because he was historically there at the beginning and to this day is the last man standing in the group. Oh, and did we mention the choreography? Thank you, Sergio Trujillo.
Who would we recommend Ain't Too Proud to?
Obviously fans of The Temptations - or the Motown era in general - will love this musical, but it’s also a great production for first-timers to the theatre, who are certain to find its energy infectious. It’s perhaps not entirely suitable for youngsters because of its use of colorful language and drug references, but it certainly has multi-generational appeal. So, why not treat the grandparents to a trip down memory lane.
When is Ain't Too Proud reopening on Broadway?
Ain't Too Proud is reopening at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway from Oct. 16, 2021. Find out more about Ain't Too Proud on Broadway here.
(Photos by Matthew Murphy)