By Risasi Dais
A new musical electrifying Broadway focuses on the life and times of one of Motown’s greatest singing groups, the Temptations. “Ain’t Too Proud” depicts the backstory of how the legendary Detroit singing group came to be and its rise to international fame, despite enormous life challenges that threatened to split up and end the group.
Featured as the Temptations are Derrick Baskin as Otis Williams, James Harkness as Paul Williams, Jawan M. Jackson as Melvin Franklin, Jeremy Pope as Eddie Kendricks and Ephraim Sykes as David Ruffin.
Playwright Dominique Morisseau, a three-time Obie Award recipient and Detroit native began writing “Ain’t Too Proud” in 2015. Two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff handles the direction. Tony nominee Sergio Trujillo’s choreography keeps pace with the dance steps the Temps became known for. After breaking records at Berkeley Rep, The Kennedy Center, CTG’s Ahmanson Theatre and Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre, the play is now garnering raves on Broadway.
Capturing the signature singing style and dazzling choreography of the original Temps, the cast takes Temptations fans on an incomparable two-hour adventure. Be prepared to join with the rest of the audience singing in harmony to all of the memorable Temptations songs: “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” “Just My Imagination,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” and of course, “Ain’t to Proud to Beg,” and many others.
The classic Motown songs remain standard play on radio stations nationwide from the 60s to the present day. One would be hard pressed to find anyone who does not remember and adore the music of the Temptations.
“Ain’t Too Proud” also showcases the social era of the 60s and 70s —the Civil Rights Movement and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, as urban cities erupted in flames. The 1971 release ”Ball of Confusion” reflected the racial divisions and the state of society at the time. It became one of their greatest hits.
Derrick Baskin portrays Otis Williams as the person who relentlessly pursued Melvin Franklin and other young Detroit singers to form the group. The play shows how Paul Williams, recruited by Otis had to drop out of the group reluctantly due to health problems. Subsequently, Paul committed suicide, broken-hearted when denied rejoining The Temptations and eventually died of an alleged suicide.
Ephraim Sykes portrayal of David Ruffin is the most dazzling and sensational character in the play. Ruffin’s mercurial and rebellious personality is displayed throughout The Temptations career journey, depicted as constantly showing up late and absent from many performances as a result of his drug addiction. He is finally being expelled from the group but David follows The Temptations and crashes their live performances, grabbing the mic from Dennis Edwards, who replaced him, commencing to his sing, his unique voice and seductive sexy swagger, leaving the ladies screaming for more.
‘Ain’t Too Proud’ is highly entertaining tour de force that will have audience excited, singing and swaying to the music of The Temptations songs.
‘Ain’t Too Proud’ is proudly playing at The Imperial Theatre on 45th Street in NYC t and is a must see theatrical entertainment adventure. So, “Get Ready” to see a marvelously entertaining theatrical experience.
By Risasi Dais