I “Ain’t Too Proud” to Sing and Dance in My Seat to Celebrate the Temptations
Review by Jenifer Moore
Amidst the 60th anniversary of bringing chart topping hits and elevating soul music in America, the energetic and uplifting story of one of Motown’s most successful acts, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations opened to a packed house at the Procter & Gamble Hall in the Aronoff Center, as part of the Broadway in Cincinnati series.
The musical, which chronicles the rollercoaster of the group’s climactic rise from the streets of Detroit, Michigan to global stardom,will have you itching to dance in the aisles to timeless hits like “Get Ready”, “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone”, and their first number one chart topper “My Girl”.
Ain’t Too Proud, as told from the lens of the Temptations surviving original member, Otis Williams, features a talented cast that carries the tunes and moves of the group so effortlessly, that you think you are actually watching the Classic Five at the height of their era.
The production’s two-hour run (with a brief 20-minute intermission) is electrifying, soul-stirring and at times sad as Marcus Paul James in his title role as Williams recounts the successes and pitfalls of fame. If you’ve seen the NBC miniseries, also based on Williams’ book, there is nothing new with the story. But the intricate way in which the creative team refreshes the content with the placement of the musical selections, and an outstanding stage setting against the group’s history is masterful.
Des McAnuff, as director, should be applauded for leading a creative team that accurately depicts what made millions of fans fall in love with the Temptations. What I loved about the production was the live singing and band. Jonathan “Smitti” Smith’s direction of the band was utter perfection and led me to believe that the cast was singing to the actual song tracks.
My favorite part of the musical after the performances was the stage design. The iconic Motown logo takes you back to the time where the recording company was a powerhouse in producing some of the world’s biggest stars and even bigger hits. Robert Brill’s brilliance to seamlessly weave in historic photos and other elements depicting mini settings is a great use of space to bring balance to the overall production.
Last but certainly not least, the costumes. If you know anything about Motown—fashion and how the artists looked was just as important as the performances. The tailored suits and dresses designed by Paul Tazewell and his team again, expertly match the tone and feel of Motown.
All in all, no fan of the Temptations will be disappointed by this performance. In fact, you will be delighted and probably rush to buy a ticket for an encore performance. I “Ain’t Too Proud” to sing and dance in my seat to celebrate the iconic history of music legends. This musical is a classic reminder that despite life’s successes and failures, the music and nostalgia that it brings, remains forever.
Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations runs until March 27, 2022 at the Procter & Gamble Hall in the Aronoff Center.
Tickets start at $35 and are available at www.cincinnatiarts.org or by calling the box office at (513) 621- 2787 (ARTS).
Jenifer Moore is a Corporate Affairs Manager for Kroger, former Public Affairs Specialist for AAA, and Walnut Hills grad. Her passions include communications, PR, supporting candidates, and “I Love Lucy.”