Get ready for a whirlwind concert experience fueled by vocal powerhouses. Having been familiar with the award-winning 1998 The Temptations miniseries produced by Temptations founder Otis Williams and based on the book featuring a special appearance by Smokey Robinson, it is no secret just how much material this musical had to cover and does so with finesse and upbeat pacing.
Directed slickly by Des McAnuff and produced by Otis Williams and Shelly Berger, Lexus Broadway in Boston presents Tony award-winning jukebox musical Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations at Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston, MA through Sunday, May 1. The show is 2 hours and 30 minutes including an intermission. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Behind every monumental group is a colossal tale. The story behind the Temptations spans decades encapsulating wild drama (some of which seems too incredible to be true) while members of the Temptations changed like a revolving door. Some of these legendary performers haunted by the past wrestled with inner turmoil and demons that indelibly impacted their own lives and with timeless and groundbreaking music comes sacrifice.
Based on the Otis Williams and Patricia Romanowski’s The Temptations autobiography, the journey began in Detroit. Marcus Paul James is part preacher, part storyteller, and all heart as Temptations founder Otis Williams recalls admiring groups like The Cadillacs in his hometown when he wasn’t getting into trouble. Finding his calling to sing was like ‘the heavens opening up.’ Immediately engaging, James guides the audience through decades of the Temptations musical journey through the losses, the humor, dedication, arrogance, passion, tragedy, and fleeting success to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Most importantly though, it is a rich voyage through the classic Motown tunes that have stood the test of time not just by The Temptations, but the Supremes and other famous Motown classics of that time.
Decked out in suave matching gray suits and ties and launching into The Way You Do the Things You Do featuring the five original members composed of James T. Lane as Paul Williams, Harrell Holmes Jr as Melvin Franklin, Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin, Jalen Harris as Eddie Kendricks, and Marcus Paul James as Otis Williams, Ain’t too Proud is an interactive, energetic, concert-driven locomotive as sliding vintage black and white photos and film depict the fans, the touring, the injustices, and the milestones through the years. The frequently moving, multilayered set by Robert Brill combined with Howell Binkley’s impressive lighting gives the slick illusion of the quick pace of their lives and the audience riding along for each transforming scene.
Not only does Ain’t too Proud feature Tony award-winning choreography, but some dynamite vocals from start to finish. Traci Elaine Lee delivers a dual role first with brief, but memorable impromptu vocals as fast-talking Johnnie Mae in a spectacular onstage Cadillac as as Mary Wilson of The Supremes. The Supremes, adorned in dazzling gowns by costume designer Paul Tazewell, make brief but memorable appearances with seamless vocals for classic numbers such as You Can’t Hurry Love and I’m Gonna Make You Love Me led by Deri’Andra Tucker as the luminous Diana Ross.
Though each member of the Temptations have good chemistry, baritone Marcus Paul James as Otis and Harrell Holmes Jr as dedicated and forthright bass singer Melvin, have an exceptional brotherly connection. Jalen Harris as falsetto Eddie Kendricks performed a memorable Just My Imagination to an enthusiastic crowd. Elijah Ahmad Lewis portrays complex and sensational tenor David Ruffin with charisma, arrogance, and affliction from the sweet first notes of My Girl to I Wish it Would Rain. The stirring I Wish it Would Rain symbolizes much more than love lost in this particular production.
Ain’t too Proud delves into the lives of the Temptations, the classic tunes, what tears them apart, and what ultimately makes them the greatest Rhythm and Blues group in music history. With a total of 24 Temptations over the years, it is quite the tale to tell.
Lexus Broadway in Boston presents jukebox musical Ain’t too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations at Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston, MA through Sunday, May 1. Click here for more information and for tickets.