There have been 24 different members of the Temptations since the group’s creation in the 1960s. First known as the Elgins, this original and quintessential quintet has gone on (in many 5-member formations) to sell tens of millions of albums over the decades, and to earn a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Ain’t Too Proud – the Life and Times of the Temptations is playing now through July 31 on the KeyBank State Theatre stage at Playhouse Square. With book by Dominique Morisseau and music by The Legendary Motown Catalog, the 2 hour and 30-minute production is a jukebox full of memorable music and moves, as well as a rich backstory on one of the most accomplished groups in pop music. It’s fun, it’s nostalgic, and it’s worth experiencing.
Told from the point of view of Otis Williams (played fantastically on review night by understudy Michael Andreaus, role regularly performed by Marcus Paul James), the story follows his life growing up as a southern boy transported to the mean streets of Detroit. After a stint in juvie, he recruits the original Temptations members: Al Bryant (Brett Michael Lockley), Eddie Kendricks (Jalen Harris), Melvin Franklin (Harrell Holmes Jr.), and Paul Williams (James T. Lane).
To say the group pays their dues is an understatement, as they work their way up from playing small venues as openers, all the way to headlining everywhere. Their struggles are captured well by the performers, as the show highlights band angst, issues with substance abuse, love found and lost, family tragedy, and more. During a time of civil unrest, the guys go through many trials as a family, with strong bonds that unite… and then sometimes bend, or even break.
The show is a glorious set list of hit music, which also includes tunes from other acts, like Diana Ross and the Supremes, and Edwin Starr. Over time, the group has produced 42 top ten hits, 14 of which have reached #1 on the charts. Just some of the classic songs performed with strong vocals and high-energy choreography are “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “Shout,” “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “I Can’t Get Next To You,” “For Once In My Life,” “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted,” and many, many more.
The acting is believable, the dancing is entertaining, the costumes are slick, and the singing is off-the-charts with tight and powerful harmonies. This is not just a jukebox musical with no story, it is indeed “The Life and Times of the Temptations,” a journey into the lives of an epically popular group that is a cornerstone of Motown history.
Ain’t Too Proud – the Life and Times of the Temptations is playing now through July 31 on the KeyBank State Theatre stage at Playhouse Square. Tickets range from $29.00 – $129.00 and can be purchased at www.playhousesquare.org.
CURRENT HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICIES at Playhouse Square for COVID-19 can be viewed here: https://www.playhousesquare.org/plan-your-visit-main/health-safety.