COSTA MESA, Calif. – (News4usonline) – “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” is a stage production you don’t want to miss. This is an incredible show.
From the storytelling to the exhaustive dance routines to the unreal vocals, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” is so well done that the full-house that came out to the first evening of the Broadway musical playing at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, went wild.
The excitement is well-deserved. Actually, it is difficult to put into words just how wonderful seeing this live stage performance or the re-enactment of the Temptations, the legendary soulful group that hit its hallmark of success under the Motown record label.
The journey that “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” takes the audience on is one that is focused on going down memory lane. Told through the eyes of Temptations founding member Otis Williams (played wonderfully by Michael Andreaus), “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” comes out with a fast and furious introduction and ends that way.
The musical is fast-paced at 2 hours and 35 minutes. The first half of the show flies by the audience almost at lightning speed with a bit of a slowdown in the second half as things get complicated among the group members. The societal impact of Jim Crow racism raises its ugly head and the Temptations try to find their niche in assisting their brothers and sisters in the Civil Rights Movement.
This bit of storytelling helps to illustrate the times in which members of the Temptations still had to balance their lives. Yes, the group had a flurry of hit songs in their heyday, including “Ain’t” Too Proud to Beg,” “My Girl,” “I Could Never Love Another,” “Get Ready,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” and “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” but they still had to encounter the realities of being Black in America during the 1960s and 1970s.
We get a glimpse of this reality when the production does an excellent cover of this topic in the second half of the performance as Otis (Williams), David Ruffin (Elijah-Ahmad Lewis), Eddie Kendricks (Jalen Harris), Melvin Franklin (Harrell Holmes Jr.), and Paul Williams (E. Clayton Cornelious) encounter some racist hicks as they ride on a bus somewhere in the South.
What this scene does is set up an extremely powerful segment of how fraught the liberties they had as Americans could not simply be wiped away, even though they were world-class entertainers. This, in turn, would flip the show even more dramatically as the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, hits the members with a sense of poignancy and deep reflection.
It is a very remarkable moment. After a full half of shouting, clapping and the audience bouncing and grooving to their every song, this presentation of the musical hits you like a boxer’s uppercut followed by the 1-2 counter of a straight right hand to the jaw.
When Andreaus (Otis Williams), Lewis (David Ruffin), Harris (Eddie Kendricks), Holmes (Melvin Franklin), and Cornelious (Paul Williams) and the ensemble come out to do another hit Temptations’ song, “I Wish it Would Rain,” you could feel the emotional tug of that moment.
From then on out, the actors on stage are required to do some heavy lifting as “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” dives into some of the more painful episodes of the group’s existence. More notably, Ruffin’s well-known drug problem was ding No. 1 to the group’s frail partnership. In-fighting and the escalating drinking problems of Paul Williams would lead to other issues.
What the second half of “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” does is balance out the part of the show. It is here in the first half where we learn about the friendships being forged between the five men, their induction to the Motown family, and the string of undeniable hits they were able to launch. It’s a fun ride.
All five of the leading actors are dynamite and bring out the “wow” factor to their performances. And let’s not forget about the ladies. Amber Mariah Talley (Diana Ross), Brittny Smith (Mary Wilson), and Shayla Brielle G.(Florence Ballard) make heads turn and make their presence felt as the lovely songbirds better known as The Supremes.
Speaking of making heads turn, Lewis is the magic man on the mike as Ruffin. He is simply sensational. Ditto for Harris as the falsetto-singing Kendricks. To be honest, all of the performers are fantastic.
If you don’t go see “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” you’re doing yourself a disservice. Go see it. Once you do, you’ll want to see it again.
Lead Photo Caption:
(L – R)- Harrell Holmes Jr., Jalen Harris, Elijah Ahmad Lewis, E. Clayton Cornelious, Michael
Andreaus from the National Touring Company of Ain’t Too Proud Credit: © 2023 Emilio Madrid
“Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” plays through Oct. 29, 2023, at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The show then moves on to the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts from Oct. 31 to Nov. 5, 2023, before hitting the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center from Nov. 7 to Nov. 12, 2023.
Dennis has covered and written about politics, crime, social justice, sports, and entertainment. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University.