AIN’T TOO PROUD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS (National Tour): Songs, fun, and nostalgia

Go for the songs. 

And what songs they are: “Baby Love,” Get Ready,” If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “Speedo”—among the twenty-eight musical numbers, with lots of fancy choreography.  This is Motown, and this cast is up to the task: good voices, great moves.

Go for the fun. 

And, if you’re old enough, go for the nostalgia.

But if you’re looking for a coherent plot or an accurate chronology, go elsewhere. (I eavesdropped at intermission on two knowledgable men who were indignant that songs were performed out of order; the twenty-eight musical numbers are, oddly, listed in the program in alphabetical order by title.) The “Times” of the  show’s title include race riots, the murder of MLK, and the difficult issue of “crossover” music: Black music for white audiences and how to “Keep it Black.”  And, of course, The Supremes make a brief appearance.

The show’s book  is by the currently hot playwright Dominique Morisseau, who is also from Detroit. It’s based on a memoir by Otis Williams, the last surviving member of the original Temptations, and here played by Michael Andreaus. 

We hear about the familiar woes of the record industry: race, money, drugs, alcohol and the often tragic results of life on the road with the inevitably neglected families.  There is internal drama: jealousies, betrayals, deaths and deep friendships. Otis narrates the story of how he recruited the group from street corners as they go on to success after success, from Detroit to Paris:  Paul Williams (E. Clayton Cornelious),  David Ruffin (the sensational Elijah Ahmad Lewis), Melvin Franklin (Harrell Holmes Jr. with his basso profundo), and Eddie Kendricks (the terrific Jalen Harris). 

The Temptations became the #1 group in the history of R & B, and we learn at the end there have been twenty-seven Temptations. 

[National tour at the Academy, of Music on the Kimmel Cultural Campus, 240 S Broad St] January 3-21,

One Reply to “AIN’T TOO PROUD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS (National Tour): Songs, fun, and nostalgia”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.