IS NOT TOO PROUD at Key Bank Palace
AIN’T TOO PROUD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF TEMPTATIONSwhich is now on stage at the State Theater as part of the Key Bank Broadway series, is a 2018 musical jukebox with music and lyrics by The Temptations and a book by Dominique Morrisseau.
Jukebox musicals are stage shows in which songs have been written with no preconceived connection to the script. The genre includes JERSEY BOYS, BEAUTIFUL—THE Carol King STORY and BUDDY– THE holly buddy STORY, which follows the life experiences of a well-known artist. Other jukebox musicals, such as MAMA MIA, ROCK OF AGES and PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT, have pre-written music, but are not an actual story. The tale is concocted and the songs are inserted into the script.
IS NOT TOO PROUD is based on the story of the musical group known by many names in their development, but once they became members of Motown and finally developed a persona, their signature dance moves and unmistakable harmonies, they were named The Temptations and took off on a career that included 42 top ten hits of which 14 reached number one and were named, in 2017, as the greatest R&B group of all time by Billboard Magazine.
The group was known for being a pioneer of psychedelic soul music and played an important role in the evolution of R&B and soul music. Distinct harmonies, creative choreography and their stylish attire have been imitated by many bands.
The musical sheds light on how and why the band was founded, the ever-changing members, the band’s interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts, their role in the civil rights movement and the nation’s politics and warfare, the stress on the artists individuals which resulted in life and marriage problems. . It’s a story of brotherhood and loyalty, as well as betrayal.
Do the Temptations still exist? The musical does not answer this question, but the answer is a “Yes!” In the fall of 2021, they released two singles, “Is It Gonna Be Yes or No”, featuring Smoke Robinson, and “When We Were Kings”, as part of their upcoming album, “Temptations 60”. So the story continues.
IS NOT TOO PROUD is an opportunity to hear more than thirty of the group’s greatest hits, including “Just My Imagination”, “Get Ready”, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, “Gloria”, “Shout” and “For Once in My Life”.
The musical was first staged at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in California and later performed in a series of regional venues. Songs have been added and removed, and story threads have been adjusted. In March 2019, the production opened on Broadway. He was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, but only got a statue for his choreography.
The tour company tells the story well. Although too long, it is well staged by the director McAnuffs and choreographer Sergio Trujillo. Cutting out several songs, which weren’t integral to the story, would have helped the boredom factor that became apparent as the show went on. (Side note: I guess if I was a fanatical follower of the band, which I am not, the extra songs wouldn’t have bothered me.)
The local staging was somewhat hampered on the evening of the premiere by the absence of Mark Paul Jameswho usually embodies the main role of Otis Williamsthe founder and central cog of the Temptations. Michel Andréausone of his stunt doubles intervened.
Andreaus was quite good, but he was sometimes slightly out of sync in complicated dance moves and lacked some of the charisma needed for the role. Antwan Holley, who played Barry Gordy, the role Andreas usually plays, was also added to this production.
The cast was excellent, often playing more than one role.
The costumes were impressive. Each performer wore multi-styled and fashioned colorful costumes.
The live band was loud and rocking which was to be expected.
Capsule judgment: It is always interesting, whether or not you are a fan of a person or a group, to see and hear their story in a musical jukebox. AIN’T TOO PROUD gives the viewer an inside view of how The Temptations were founded, developed and performed. The traveling show has been the pride of history. If you like Temptations, you’ll be on “Cloud Nine” and “Shout” about AIN’T TOO PROUD. If it’s not a fanatic, it’s still worth seeing.
The show is at the KeyBank State Theater in Playhouse Square until Sunday, July 31. Tickets are available for all performances and can be purchased by clicking on here.