Nik Walker & Matt Manuel debut in Ain't Too Proud on Broadway

Walker & Manuel assume the roles of Otis Williams and David Ruffin in the smash hit bio-musical.

Nik Walker & Matt Manuel

Welcome to Cloud Nine! The hugely popular jukebox musical Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations welcomes two new principal cast members to the Imperial Theatre tonight, as Nik Walker and Matt Manuel take over the roles of Otis Williams and David Ruffin, respectively. The original Tony-nominated cast members Derrick Baskin and Ephraim Sykes played their final performances on February 26, and Mr. Sykes is set to return to Broadway this summer to star as Michael Jackson in the world premiere of MJ The Musical.

Nik Walker has previously appeared in the Broadway and National Tour productions of Motown The Musical and Hamilton, including the role of Aaron Burr. Matt Manuel also starred in the National Tour of Motown The Musical and is set to make his Broadway debut.

Director Des McAnuff previously commented: “Everyone is ecstatic to have Nik and Matt join Ain’t Too Proud in these iconic roles. Nik brings an extensive theater background, most recently as Aaron Burr in Hamilton, and is the perfect fit to lead our cast as Otis Williams. I’ve known Nik since he was a graduate student at NYU and worked with him at La Jolla Playhouse. I couldn’t be more excited about welcoming him to the company. Matt is an exciting discovery, a bonafide triple threat, coming straight from The Temptations’ hometown of Detroit. It’s dazzling to watch him step elegantly into the role of David Ruffin.”

The current cast of Ain't Too Proud is led by Nik Walker (as Otis Williams), James Harkness (as Paul Williams), Jawan M. Jackson (as Melvin Franklin), Jelani Remy (as Eddie Kendricks), and Matt Manuel (as David Ruffin).

Featuring a book by Dominique Morisseau and an iconic score of legendary Temptations songs such as “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” Ain't Too Proud is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff and features Tony Award-winning choreography by Sergio Trujillo.

Ain't Too Proud began previews at the Imperial Theatre on February 28, 2019, ahead of an official opening on March 21 (read our 4-star review).

Synopsis: "Ain't Too Proud is the electrifying new musical that follows The Temptations’ extraordinary journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With their signature dance moves and unmistakable harmonies, they rose to the top of the charts creating an amazing 42 Top Ten Hits with 14 reaching number one. The rest is history — how they met, how they rose, the groundbreaking heights they hit, and how personal and political conflicts threatened to tear the group apart as the United States fell into civil unrest. This thrilling story of brotherhood, family, loyalty, and betrayal is set to the beat of the group’s treasured hits."

The creative team behind Ain't Too Proud features musical direction & arrangements by Kenny Seymour, orchestrations by Drama Desk Award winner Harold Wheeler, scenic design by Tony Award nominee Robert Brill, costume design by Tony Award winner Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley, sound design by Tony Award winner Steve Canyon Kennedy, projection design by Drama Desk Award winner Peter Nigrini, hair & wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and fight direction by Steve Rankin.

The world premiere of Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations was staged at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in fall 2017, where it smashed records as the highest-grossing production in that theater’s nearly 50-year history. It went on to play limited engagements at Washington D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles and then celebrated its Canadian premiere engagement at Toronoto's Princess of Wales Theatre.

The Broadway premiere of Ain't Too Proud is produced by Ira Pittelman and Tom Hulce.

Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations Tickets are available now for performances through November 29, 2020.

(Photos courtesy of DKC/O&M)