Ain't Too Proud is told from the viewpoint of Otis Williams, who walks us through the life of The Temptations from the early '60s to the present (they're performing at the State Fair this year, including now 80-year-old Otis). We hear about how he formed the group, working with songwriter Smokey Robinson, coming up with a name and identity for the group, the frequent changes in membership, competing with The Supremes for top billing, and also a bit of life happening off stage (sex, drugs, and R&B). The show touches briefly on the Civil Rights movement, mentioning the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and playing in segregated clubs in the South, but doesn't delve too deeply into it. It's a whirlwind story through the decades, all accompanied by this music that is so much a part of pop culture that even if you think you don't know The Temptations, you know this music. The hits keep coming one after the other - "Get Ready," "Just My Imagination," and of course their signature hit "My Girl."
|The Temptations (photo by Emilio Madrid)
The Tony-winning choreography by Sergio Trujillo (who also choreographed Jersey Boys and a slew of other Broadway shows) is super smooth, crisply performed by the cast. On the dancing front, I think this crew might even be better than the original. The fantastic band comprised mostly of local musicians was kept hidden backstage until they were revealed in all their splendor during the curtain call. The music and dancing absolutely sell this show.
The Temptations signature look is deliciously replicated, with multiple different sets of matching suits in bold colors and styles. The set includes a gray brick proscenium arch, a huge marquee descending from the rafters, a brief appearance by a classic car, and liberal use of projections, including to indicate location on tour. (Costume design by Paul Tazewell, scenic design by Robert Brill, and projection design by Peter Nigrini).
|Ain't Too Proud is playing for more than "One Night Only"
in Minneapolis! (photo by Emilio Madrid)