The Temptations were an iconic group that were one of the biggest successes to come out of the Motown music factory. But the lives of the band’s members proved to be just as turbulent as the era their voices provided the soundtrack for.
The stage show “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations” chronicles the band’s tragedies and triumphs while celebrating their incredible music, and is now playing at the Fox Theatre through Oct. 2.
The laziest way to define “Ain’t Too Proud” is a Motown version of “Jersey Boys,” since both bands existed at roughly the same time and suffered under the same strains of drugs/alcohol, infidelity and tragic loss of loved ones.
Group founder and lone surviving member of The Temptations Otis Williams (a charming Marcus Paul James) even talks directly to the audience as he narrates the proceedings in the same manner as the members of the Four Seasons in “Jersey Boys.”
But what makes “Ain’t Too Proud” stand on its own is that it shows this era of the music industry from a distinctly African-American perspective.
Through the years The Temptations have had over 25 members (they are the Ship of Theseus of R&B), but “Ain’t Too Proud” focuses on the band’s prime and the original five members of Williams, deep-voiced Melvin Franklin (Harrell Holmes Jr.), edgy Eddie Kendricks (Jalen Harris), dance master Paul Williams (James T. Lane) and tempestuous lead singer David Ruffin (Elijah Ahmad Lewis).
The show smartly puts the music front and center as The Temptations music catalogue is a parade of hits like “Get Ready,” “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and “Just My Imagination.”
The Temptations where pioneers when it game to integrating choreographed dance moves into their performances and “Ain’t Too Proud” makes sure the dancing is given just as much importance as the singing.
“Ain’t Too Proud” is an excellent show and anyone who has ever tapped a toe to the sweet harmonies of The Temptations should make a point to see this production.
“Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations” is now playing at the Fox Theatre through Oct. 2. For tickets call 314-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.