Ain’t to Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations – does not have to beg or plead; this Broadway production has earned full bragging rights. With Tony award-winning choreography and 12 Tony nominations, Ain’t Too Proud rightfully boasts everything that one expects from Broadway: major singing chops, exhilarating dance numbers, and captivating characters, but also heart and soul.
The story is narrated primarily through The Temptations founding member, Otis Williams – from his stint in juvenile hall to his one-by-one search and finding of the original members: Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and David Ruffin – and through the struggles that each faces. The Temptations leave behind a legacy of hit songs known to many; the musical production, based on Williams’ book, shows us the people behind the music, the toll of fame, and the very human challenges and flaws that are exacerbated by pressures of the road and the spotlight.
The Temptations rise to success navigates issues of civil rights, including segregation and discrimination and the socio-economic and political realities of five black men from working class/poor backgrounds trying to make their way doing what they love, at a time when this seemed beyond possibility. Ain’t Too Proud gives its audience the magic of the music, crazy-fun dancing, and the truth: its real-life characters battle with substance abuse/dependency, illness, family dynamics, and the tragedies that life can bring.
The passion of the cast and crew is evident from the curtain rise to curtain close. This is a production that takes a whole lot of people, and seeing them on stage together is nothing short of mesmerizing. Ain’t Too Proud is truly a show for everyone; it brought the house down at the Orpheum on opening night, and proves to do so for its entire run.
Ain’t Too Proud is playing at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis through July 10, 2022. Tickets start at $40.
Review by Kavita Battula, photo by Emilio Madrid