Review Roundup: AIN'T TOO PROUD on Tour; Read the Reviews

The tour is moving through the country throughout 2022.

By: Jan. 19, 2022
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Ain't Too Proud

The National Tour of Ain't Too Proud officially kicked off at the Kennedy Center, after cancelling 15 performances due to COVID-19. Performances began on December 28 and continued through January 16.

AIN'T TOO PROUD is the electrifying new musical that follows The Temptations' extraordinary journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With their signature dance moves and unmistakable harmonies, they rose to the top of the charts creating an amazing 42 Top Ten Hits with 14 reaching number one. The rest is history - how they met, the groundbreaking heights they hit and how personal and political conflicts threatened to tear the group apart as the United States fell into civil unrest. This thrilling story of brotherhood, family, loyalty and betrayal is set to the beat of the group's treasured hits, including "My Girl," "Just My Imagination," "Get Ready," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and so many more.

The tour is now playing in Charlotte, NC, before going on to the rest of the country throughout 2022. Learn more at https://ainttooproudmusical.com/#tickets.

Let's see what the critics are saying...


Kennedy Center - Washington, DC

Morgan Musselman, BroadwayWorld: In one of my favorite moments of the night, taking place toward the end of the first act as David Ruffin is fired, the group sings "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" to one another. It is a heartbreaking scene that showcases the men's deep personal ties to one another and artfully foreshadows the internal strife and loss chronicled in the show's second act. There is deep love and sympathy in the way this story is told, especially in its most tense moments.

Ben Fisler, MD Theatre Guide: Right from the start, the audience is treated to high-energy performances of some of the greatest R&B hits-from "Cloud Nine" to "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted," featuring Sergio Trujillo's Tony-winning choreography, a brilliant mix of Motown style and trademark Temptations gestures, blended with hip-hop and musical theatre virtuosity. As a rule, the group is beautifully synched on stage when delivering a classic like "My Girl," even when Marcus Paul James, as Williams himself, reveals the backstage drama that characterized each moment in the group's journey to being counted among the greatest music artists of all time.

Gail Choochan, The Free Lance-Star: The touring production of "Ain't Too Proud" has assembled a terrific cast to bring these iconic hit-makers to life: Marcus Paul James as the cool-headed leader Otis, Jalen Harris as falsetto-singing charmer Eddie, Harrell Holmes Jr. as the stoic bassman Melvin, James T. Lane as troubled baritone Paul and Elijah Ahmad Lewis in a scene-stealing performance as flamboyant showman David. The egocentric singer, "Our Diamond in the Ruffin" as Otis often refers to him, would randomly show up and steal the spotlight after he was booted from the group. Najah Hetsberger as Otis's wife, Josephine, also has some lovely moments in the show.

Belk Theater - Charlotte, NC

Vickie Evans, BroadwayWorld: Yes, The Temptations had their fair share of personal challenges, but I can undeniably say that the music of these incredible beings provided the soundtrack for many memories in my life with chart topping hits, many written by two talented songwriters, William "Smokey" Robinson and Norman Whitfield, to include: My Girl, Just My Imagination, I Can't Get Next To You, (I Know) I'm Losing You, Papa Was A Rollin' Stone, Don't Look Back, Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today), and of course the title song, Ain't Too Proud To Beg...to name a few.

Dr. Phillips Center - Orlando, FL

Aaron Wallace, BroadwayWorld: But even if AIN'T TOO PROUD commits a few sins on its way to Motown glory, it is at least absolved to some extent by the sheer quality of that songbook. And, in the current touring production at Dr. Phillips Center, it gets some extra absolution from its incredibly talented cast.

Andy Haynes, Attractions Magazine: It would be easy to dismiss "Ain't Too Proud" as just a "jukebox" musical that takes an existing catalog of songs and crafts a story around them, but the songs are the story of The Temptations in so many ways that trying to tell their story, and indeed it's a story worth telling, without these songs would be ridiculous.

Philharmonic Center for the Arts - Naples, FL

Harriet Howard Heithaus, Naples Daily News: It's hard to quibble with the quality of the music and the performers, however. Marcus Paul James, in the star roles as Williams, blends an off-stage temperance with addiction of a singer in love with his music and his career. Further, every one of his fellow Temptations is equal to their roles. That's especially true for Elijah Ahmad Lewis, as David Ruffin, the group's golden voice, whose problems with ego and discipline made him the most prominent pink slip.

Broward Center For The Performing Arts - Fort Lauderdale, FL

Rod Stafford Hagwood, South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Yes, this is a jukebox musical and "Aint Too Proud" can't escape the framework of then-we-did-this-and-then-we-did-that, nor does it seem to try. Frankly, the Temptations story has every backstage cliché you ever saw on VH1′s "Behind the Music" rockumentaries, and late in the second act it starts to feel just a wee bit manipulative. But when that ol' showbiz chestnut is cracked open the way this musical does it, flinging sweat off of afros in the musical numbers and putting muscle into the more grim moments, you don't mind so much over the balance of two hours with a 20-minute intermission.

Miami Times Staff Report: The cast of "Ain't Too Proud" grooves in perfect sync through every showstopper and scene change - from the titular song and "Baby Love" to "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" and "You Can't Hurry Love." Minimalist scenic design consists of little more than a moving theater marquee, but laser-focused lighting and monochromatic projections craft striking stage images that emphasize the singers' iconic silhouettes.

Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center - Fort Myers, FL

Dave Elias, NBC 2: Actor Marcus Paul Jones leads the show as Williams and he does a magnificent job of narrating and portraying that smooth rich baritone voice that takes center stage. Williams is on stage nearly the entire performance recalling the story of the group's rise to the top.

Fox Theatre - Atlanta, GA

Phil Kloer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The group's goal, as set by Williams and Gordy, was to be a seamless ensemble with no single breakout lead singer. Which was fine, except David Ruffin was the consummate breakout lead, and he knew it. All five of the singer-dancer-actors in "Ain't Too Proud's" Classic Five are fantastic, but Lewis, as Ruffin, absorbs the spotlight like a sponge whenever he is near a microphone, with his silken voice and moves. The cocky charisma just pours off him.

Marcus Center For The Performing Arts - Milwaukee, WI

Aly Prouty, Spectrum News 1: "Ain't Too Proud" carries a breth of modern political themes that are effortlessly weaved into the two and a half hour show, pushing the message of love, drive and equity to center stage. One cannot help but leave the theater with a new life-lesson learned.

Blaine Schultz, Shepherd Express: Early on, Williams gives up on songwriting to focus on the group's success. Sharkskin suits give way to wide collars as the '60s waned and producer Norman Whitfield guides the band away from ballads to proto-funk and psychedelic material like "Cloud Nine" and "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone." In closing, as the lone surviving member from the group's glory years, Williams reflects philosophically on the career of The Temptations and his refrain of never looking back.

Providence Performing Arts Center - Providence, RI

John McDaid, BroadwayWorld: Marcus Paul James anchors the show as Otis Williams, the founding member of the group. The show leans heavily on James, and he delivers a powerful, nuanced performance and exceptional vocals. Harrell Holmes Jr. provides the deep bass of Melvin Franklin. Jalen Harris adds the falsetto of Eddie Kendricks. James T. Lane brings dance moves and authentic notes of tragedy as Paul Williams. Elijah Ahmad Lewis rounds out the original lineup as David Ruffin, whose self-aggrandizing antics drive much of the conflict. All the leads are a joy to watch and listen to, and the supporting cast is uniformly excellent, as one would expect in a national tour.

Kathie Raleigh, The Independent: This touring production has a cast of all-stars, and everybody gets a solo moment. Elijah Ahmad Lewis gets the most time in the spotlight as David Ruffin, whose distinctive voice became the sound of the Temptations. Lewis' voice does the same for a big segment of this musical, and he's not a clone but as good as the original. Same goes for all the singers-dancers-actors who play different Temptations as the lineup changes over the years. It's impossible, however, not to mention the soaring vocals of Brett Michael Lockley as Al Bryant, whose volatile personality made him the first to depart the group.

Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll, Cape Cod Times: For fans, the performers on the national tour of this 2019 Broadway hit are top of the line, with often electric vocals, smooth harmonies and impressive moves for the group's signature choreography (by Sergio Trujillo, winning a Tony Award). Besides James, the cast is led by Jalen Harris as Kendricks; Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin; James T. Lane as Paul Williams; and Harold Holmes Jr. as Melvin Franklin. But, despite strong direction by Des McAnuff, as with so many shows like this, the sometimes repetitive and cliched script just skims the surface, portraying key plot points in a few sentences, with little depth for the many troubles among the band members or clarity for the timelines when events are happening. Kudos, though, for brief attempts to align the Temptations story with the civil rights movement and death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.

Ken Abrams, WUN: Ain't Too Proud fully engages the audience, to the point where you sometimes forget you're at a play, and not an actual Temptations concert. It's seriously confusing at times, with call and response songs like "Shout" leading to audience participation you'd expect to see at a Temps concert.

Boston Opera House - Boston, MA

Terry Byrne, Boston Globe

Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll, Cape Cod Times: For fans, the performers on the national tour of this 2019 Broadway hit are top of the line, with often electric vocals, smooth harmonies and impressive moves for the group's signature choreography (by Sergio Trujillo, winning a Tony Award). Besides James, the cast is led by Jalen Harris as Kendricks; Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin; James T. Lane as Paul Williams; and Harold Holmes Jr. as Melvin Franklin. But, despite strong direction by Des McAnuff, as with so many shows like this, the sometimes repetitive and cliched script just skims the surface, portraying key plot points in a few sentences, with little depth for the many troubles among the band members or clarity for the timelines when events are happening. Kudos, though, for brief attempts to align the Temptations story with the civil rights movement and death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.

Jacquinn Sinclair, wbur: The play uses the music of the era to highlight certain historical events, such as the civil rights movement, the murder of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and police brutality, and the anguish and demons some of the group's members battled. Set design by Robert Brill and lighting and the projections of trees, marquis, and rain by Howell Binkley help set the scene and move the show along through time. Throughout the production, Otis (Marcus Paul James) narrates the group's beginnings and the troubles they faced.

Hippodrome Theatre - Baltimore, MD

Timoth David Copney, BroadwayWorld: There are no weak links in this production. From the ensemble to the leads, each and every one of them is a star. I could write a chapter or two about any of them, but let's try to narrow that down some. First off, I have to give a shout out to local phenom Brett Michael Lockley, a hometown boy doing double duty on this tour as both Al Bryant and Norman Whitfield. Aside from his stellar vocals as Al, there is one, tiny moment that will keep me in his corner for all time. As he's exiting a scene early in the show, he does a high kick well over his head that made me go, 'day'm, the kid can DANCE, too!' Other moments that stick with me are Traci Elain Lee's brash and bold moment as Johnnie Mae, Deri'Andra Tucker as Diana Ross, as sensuous and shiny as the original (but, imo, a way better voice), and the combination of Devon Holloway, Lawrence Dandridge and Harris Matthew, who each replaces one failed original Temptation. Every one of them absolutely deserves to be following in those hallowed footsteps.

Susan Brall, MD Theatre Guide: As Williams, James carries the biggest weight in this show and gives a spectacular performance. He shows his enormous range as a singer and an actor. The final, touching song, "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted," is his good-bye song to his son, Lamont (Gregory C. Banks, Jr.) and his friends. (Interestingly, that song was made famous by Jimmy Ruffin, David's brother, not the Temptations.)

Shea's Performing Arts Center - Buffalo, NY

Peter Hall, Buffalo Rising: Yes, it's good to know that becoming what Billboard Magazine named the greatest R&B group of all time didn't just happen, that there were struggles along the way, but actor James just seemed tired. Even when playing a young man. Scene after scene was a downer, brought back up by a great song, then back to yet another problem (drugs, egos, misunderstandings, work-life imbalance, artistic control), then back up with another great song, on and on for over two and a half hours.

Michael Rabice, BroadwayWorld: While the group surely has it's ups and downs, the linear storytelling by the group's leader and narrator Otis, suffers from a " and then this happened " monotony. The large catalog of music is mostly used to showcase the group's sound. There are very few solo numbers, which denies the audience the ability to bond with the individual characters. But we do get to hear many of their hits including "My Girl," "Just My Imagination," and "I Can't Get Next to You."

Melinda Miller, The Buffalo News: The lightweight narrative that ties together the music is based on the autobiography of Temptations founder Otis Williams, the only original member of the group who is still alive. He recalls dark times of racism, protest, war and loss, yet overall this is the story of a happy and grateful survivor.

Benedum Center for the Performing Arts - Pittsburgh, PA

Greg Kerestan, BroadwayWorld: The core original Temptations are all fantastic. Marcus Paul James's Otis may be the founder but he was never the star of the Temptations, and as such James doesn't get a big vocal solo until the end. Despite this, his ongoing narration and Everyman status gives a grounding to the show's perspective that the perspective-shifting sister show Jersey Boys never acquires, as well as justifying the conceit that the Temps as a group and a concept were bigger than merely the sum of its original parts. Elijah Ahmad Lewis shines in the showier role of David Ruffin, the showboating frontman whose personal life and substance abuse interfere with group cohesion. Lewis sings and dances like an absolute master of his craft, lending the darker moments of the character unexpected heft; it really does feel like seeing a glimpse behind the perfectly curated media image. Harrell Holmes Jr.'s Melvin Franklin, the superbass of the group, often plays the role of gentle giant, but Holmes's floor-rattling basso profundo gives heft to Melvin's gradual illness and decline in old age.

Cadillac Palace Theatre - Chicago, IL

Sheri Flanders, Chicago Sun Times: We follow Williams from his rough-and-tumble days as a youth, through a brief stint in jail that scares him straight, to his embrace of music as a way out of a life of crime and poverty, to his meteoric rise to stardom with one of the most legendary groups to ever grace the stage. Told with an enjoyably corny tone, the story is funny and light, yet still takes moments to acknowledge the hard truths of the era, including the struggles of the civil rights movement, and the inadequacy that musicians felt while watching the Freedom Riders fight for justice, leaving them to wonder if making music was truly enough to help the cause.

Paul Lockwood, Northwest Herald: The production also provides a bit of context to the decades of The Temptations' successes, often combining the music with black-and-white newspapers and photos/videos projected at the back of the stage (including Vietnam war footage during the song "War"). Projection designer Peter Nigrini's work in those areas is excellent, although I did struggle to make out some of the huge-letter city names as they flowed by at various times (representing The Temptations' numerous concert tour sites).

Kathy D. Hey, Third Coast Review: From the moment they hit the stage and launch into The Way You Do the Things You Do, you will be transported back to a time when that song was played on WVON or whatever the station was at the end of the dial in your town. This mega-talented cast has the looks, the sound, and the moves that will make you want to dance. Here are the songs that kids used to imitate the dance moves and leave the arm of the record player off so that it would play on repeat (some of you may have to look that one up).

Overture Center - Madison, WI

Angie Stanton, BroadwayWorld: Marcus effortlessly plays Williams as an approachable, trustworthy fella and invites you in for the story. The band seems a bit ordinary until adding the energetic talents of David Ruffin (Elijah Ahmad Lewis) to the group. Lewis swaggers, dances, and belts his way into the audience's heart. In fact, the audience applauded each time the actors' voices came together into the award-winning harmonies of the Temptations' hits and cheered when they performed the signature choreography.

Orpheum Theatre - Minneapolis, MN

Joe Sarafolean, BroadwayWorld: While the technical elements surely are impressive and bring delight at every juncture. It is worth noting that the story itself is not as glitzy. The backstory of The Temptations is not a fairy tale. As is bound to happen with any group of people, tensions begin to rise between the members as personal relationships begin to interfere in the group's goals to become the top music group, while having to juggle the side effects of becoming famous (drugs, alcohol and mental fatigue).

Playhouse Square - Cleveland, OH

Roy Berko, BroadwayWorld: The musical illuminates how and why the group was founded, the ever-changing membership, the group's interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts, their role in the civil rights movement and the nation's politics and war, the stress on individual performers which resulted in life and marriage problems. This is a tale of brotherhood and loyalty, as well as betrayal.

Joey Morona, Cleveland.com: The musical numbers, choreographed by Tony winner Sergio Trujillo, give the "Classic Five" cast members each a chance to show off their considerable talents collectively and individually. Standout performances include Harris' fun and energetic duet with Talley on "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me." The "American Idol" season 10 alum's impressive falsetto is also on full display during a soothing rendition of "Just My Imagination." Matthew deserves props for bringing Lenny Kravitz vibes to Dennis Edwards, particularly on "I Can't Get Next To You" and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." Andreaus does more monologuing than singing as Otis Williams, so when he finally gets to let loose on "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," you can't help but feel the emotion. Lane's moving performance of "For Once In My Life" drew the loudest ovation from the crowd.

Fisher Theatre - Detroit, MI

Carmichael Cruz, Click On Detroit: After a slightly late start to accommodate the special events of the evening, the lights dimmed as the "Fox Theatre" on stage revealed the original five going straight into "The Way You Do The Things You Do." The crowd instantly roared in applause as if The Temptations really were right before them. This started the rollercoaster of hit after hit, as Otis Williams, played by original Broadway cast member Marcus Paul James, narrated the origins of the band and how each member came to be. Detroit is mentioned instantly which got an immediate reaction from the audience.

Music Hall at Fair Park - Dallas, TX

Emily Short, BroadwayWorld: The personalities of all characters shone through their styles in voice and dance. The ranges of voice went all the way from Lawrence Dandridge's raspy, high-pitched voice as Smokey Robinson to the lowest of the low bass of Harrell Holmes Jr. as Melvin Franklin, which were present in both dialogue and song. There were instances of volume inconsistencies, voices sounding muffled or snaps and claps sounding sharp, but the cast's powerful voices wouldn't allow for a few microphone mishaps to overshadow the performance. Matching these unique voices in both tone, pizazz, and punches were Sergio Trujillo's choreography, which was subtle, soulful, silly, and sexy, and the fight direction of Steve Rankin. Of course the choreography of the Temps and the occasional physical fight were interesting to watch from an entertainment standpoint, but the movements designed to supplement the storytelling were unique and exciting.

Orpheum Theater - Omaha, NE

Betsie Freeman, Omaha.com: And I can't rave enough about the talented cast and orchestra. There were absolutely no weak links. The dances were amazing, and the voices were soaring, powerful and rewarded with deafening cheers from the audience. They also sounded fairly authentic to the groups they were portraying, though my friends and I found The Supremes a little disappointing.

Golden Gate Theatre - San Francisco, CA

Linda Hodges, BroadwayWorld: Though Ain't Too Proud follows in the footsteps of other jukebox bio-musicals like Beautiful and Jersey Boys, the show must, of course, deal with racism, and in their case, the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here, Brill's use of larger-than-life photo stills of King's funeral bring us into the moment and it is extraordinarily disturbing that the rampant racism of the 60s is still with us today.

Civic Theatre - San Diego, CA

Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune: "Ain't Too Proud" is a good musical with excellent performance and a mostly entertaining story. But it's not quite "Jersey Boys," which many San Diegans will always remember as one of the most spectacular musicals ever born in this town.

Sandi Masori, San Diego Jewish World: This was a really large cast, but several performers really stood out. Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin was a ball of energy who lit up the stage every time he entered. He really embodied showman Ruffin. Shayla Brielle G. knocked it out of the park playing several roles including Mama Rose, Tammi Terrell, as well as being a part of the ensemble. Harrell Holmes Jr's deep voice thrilled the audience as Melvin "Blue" Franklin. And, of course, Andreas carried the show as Williams.

George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Theatre - Salt Lake City, UT

Tyler Hinton, BroadwayWorld: The distinctive performances effectively differentiate each character for the uninitiated, selling the audience on each of their unique contributions to the Temptations. Standouts include Michael Andreaus as Otis Williams, Jalen Harris as Eddie Kendricks, Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin, Harrell Holmes Jr. as Melvin Franklin, and E. Clayton Cornelious as Paul Williams.

Nancy Van Valkenburg, Gephardt Daily: Standouts in the cast included Michael Andreaus as the relatively stable Williams, who narrated the story, so was either talking or singing at all times. Also great were Harrell Homes Jr. as Melvin Franklin, Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin, Jalen Harris as Eddie Kendricks, providing a complex and full backdrop for the tunes.

First Interstate Center for the Arts - Spokane, WA

Carolyn Lamberson, The Spokesman-Review: Like any good jukebox musical, the real star of the show is the music. When it comes to "Ain't Too Proud," we're talking about some of the finest music created by an American group. Iconic tunes like "My Girl," "Just My Imagination," "Ball of Confusion," "Get Ready," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," and of course the title track are expertly performed on stage by a deeply talented cast.

Paramount Theatre - Seattle, WA

Kelly Rogers Flynt, BroadwayWorld: The cast of AIN'T TOO PROUD is tight. You can tell that they are having a good time and have a genuine chemistry with each other. Michael Andreaus as Otis Williams carries the weight of responsibility for the group. He often struggles to balance the needs of the group with the desires of the individuals. The burden is large, and makes you feel the pain of it. Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin is a firecracker. He lights up the stage like an explosion that starts with his voice made of gold. Even when Ruffin's antics are causing harm to the group, you don't want him to leave the stage. Eddie Kendricks was the group member that never wanted to give up on anyone, and Jalen Harris's performance as Kendrick was heartfelt and touching. Kendrick's heart over head philosophy comes shining through. E. Clayton Cornelious as Paul Williams was a touch of reality. He masterfully displayed how addiction can be hidden and disguised until it reaches a breaking point. The scene where he first teaches choreography to the group was one of the funniest moments of the night. Harrell Holmes Jr. as Melvin Franklin is a sneaky one. With eyes as deep as his voice, he reflects all the highs, lows, tension, and love within the group. The bass is the foundation of a vocal group, and Franklin was the embodiment of that foundation.

Orpheum Theatre - Memphis, TN

AniKatrina Fageol, BroadwayWorld: The musical is electrifying due to powerhouse voices and energetic choreography. The remaining original Temptation, Otis Williams, acts as a narrator and we see the group's journey through his eyes, which is an interesting choice. In 2019, Ain't Too Proud was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It won for Best Choreography, which is well deserved. It was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album but lost to another jukebox musical, Jagged Little Pill. The show has received critical aclaim and audiences are treated to iconic hits such as "Just My Imagination", "My Girl", and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone". Side note for all the enthusiastic theatre-goers out there... just because you know all of the songs, doesn't mean you should sing them *wink* Enjoy the actors' powerful voices! They are who we are there to see afterall!

Bass Concert Hall - Austin, TX

Bob Abelman, The Austin Chronicle: The script for Ain't Too Proud was written by the gifted and provocative author Dominique Morisseau (Paradise Blue, Detroit '67, Skeleton Crew), whose job it seems was to counterbalance Williams' reflections on the clashing egos and personal demons of his original brothers in arms (played by triple-threat performers E. Clayton Cornelious, Harrell Holmes Jr., Jalen Harris, and Elijah Ahmad Lewis) with dialogue that makes these fellows appealing. Her pandering works, for opening night audience members offered appreciative and supportive applause as one Temptation exited to die of an drug overdose and another to commit suicide. We even adore the Williams character, who abandons his underage wife and newborn child for the road. The same goes for Motown mastermind Berry Gordy (a suave Jeremy Kelsey), who in life was a brilliant but unlikable dictator. It's as if Morisseau was playing The Temptations song "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" on repeat during the making of this play.

Tulsa Performing Arts Center - Tulsa, OK

James D. Watts, Jr., Tulsa World: Lewis is dazzling as Ruffin, nailing the soulful shout and the acrobatic moves with aplomb, and managing to make the character's downfall almost tragic. And Andreaus does yeoman's work as Williams - he's onstage practically the entire two-plus hours of the show, moving smoothly into and out of production numbers to advance the story with a bit of narration here, a vignette there.

Kentucky Center - Louisville, KY

Taylor Clemons, BroadwayWorld: The show isn't going to revolutionize the jukebox musical, but this one, while somewhat paint-by-the-numbers in the same template of those that came before, is very well constructed and executed. With energy in spades and the willingness to tell the good, bad, and the ugly, the show has a sense of honesty and integrity as well. They pack a lot of story into 2.5 hours, and the briskness of the pacing makes it feel exciting and fresh. I may not have known a lot about the Temptations walking into the theatre, but upon exiting I am fascinated by their story and truly in awe of their legacy.

Ohio Theatre - Columbus, OH

Christina Mancuso, BroadwayWorld: To single out one standout performer is an impossible feat. Each talented actor pours their complete heart and soul into their character to create this spectacular Motown musical feast. Michael Andreaus (Otis Williams), E. Clayton Cornelious (Paul Williams), Jalen Harris (Eddie Kendricks), Harrell Holmes Jr. (Melvin Franklin), Devin Price (Al Bryant), Elijah Ahmad Lewis (David Ruffin), Devin Holloway (Richard Street), and Dwayne P. Mitchell (Dennis Edwards) all deliver sensational performances as various members of the group.

Kravis Center for the Performing Arts - West Palm Beach, FL

Mary Damiano, Palm Beach Daily News: But "Ain't Too Proud" isn't just a Temptations hit parade. The show, with a book by Dominique Morriseau, rises above other biographical jukebox musicals because the songs are used to illustrate the story in a unique way. This means that while the story of The Temptations is presented, for the most part, in chronological order, the songs are not. Rather, they are interwoven through scenes to heighten the drama, emotion, and the turning points in the group's evolution.

Straz Center [Carol Morsani Hall] - Tampa, FL

Drew Eberhard, BroadwayWorld: For our purposes, the performances on display here are extraordinary. Layered with just the right amount of heart, and soul, as an audience member you find yourself rooting for each of these men on their journey to fame. On the other side of the token, you also feel for their pain, their inner demons and emotional struggles. Getting five men together all with different personalities is no small feat, but these men work together in harmonious unison, and complete a brotherhood that is all their own.

Proctor's Theatre - Schenectady NY

Peyton VanDerheyden, BroadwayWorld: The production quality was incredible. Robert Brill’s set design is rather minimalistic, given that the images and scenes are mainly crafted with projections by Peter Nigrini. Pieces are brought in using a flying system, which allows structures and flats to be raised and lowered with pulleys offstage. It was truly the best usage of this that I’ve ever seen. The lighting design by Howell Binkley is intricately arranged to showcase the focus of any given scene, and it is what makes the other visual components so cohesive. In addition to those technical aspects, Paul Tazewell’s costume design with hair/wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, keeps the performers looking suave while taking the audience back in time. 

Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts - Hartford, CT

Hartford Courant

Lau Guzman, MyRecordJournal: Despite its whirlwind of characters, places and songs, what remains after the thrilling finale of “Ain’t Too Proud” is the same thing Williams says remains of the Temptations: ”a little bit of love, a well of soul and some of the smoothest moves ever known to five men and a microphone.”

Schuster Performing Arts Center [Mead Theatre] - Dayton, OH

Jenni Cypher, BroadwayWorld: The performances of the original five Temps, Otis Williams (Michael Andraeus), Paul Williams (Clayton Cornelious), Eddie Kendrick (Jalen Harris), Melvin Franklin (Harrell Holmes, Jr), and David Ruffin (Elijah Ahmad Lewis), are the largest part of the production with the add ins of some of the replacements, played by Dwayne P.Mitchell, Devin Holloway and Omar Madden.  The ladies cannot be forgotten either, most notably Quiana Onrae’l Holmes and Amber Mariah Talley.  My favorite songs of the evening were some of my all time favorites,” Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, and of course,”Ain’t too Proud to Beg” but my absolute favorite performance of the evening was Elijah Ahmad Lewis singing “I Wish it Would Rain”.  It was the singularly most moving performance of a song that I have ever had the privilege to see in person.  Michael Andraeus was also superb as Otis Williams, who also served as narrator of the story.  I just loved them all. 

Blumenthal Performing Arts Center: Belk Theater - Charlotte, NC

Jalon Hill, Q City Metro:  I enjoyed the show. I give it a 10/10 rating. And the storytelling throughout the play was very engaging. It felt like I was watching The Temptations’ journey unfold in real time. The narrator, Otis Williams’ character, didn’t sugarcoat the group’s ups and downs; he talked about each members’ struggles from drug abuse to racism and more. I’ve never been a big fan of musicals, but this one has definitely changed my perspective. I would even see it a third time.

Hobby Center for the Performing Arts - Houston, TX

Chris Vognar, Chron: The master of ceremonies, narrator, and adult in the room is group founder Otis Williams (played by Michael Andreaus), whose book, co-written with Patricia Romanowski, is the basis of the show. Williams is the glue of the group who preaches that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and who dispatches members who step too far out of line, regardless of their talent. In real life, he is also an executive producer of the show, as is longtime Temptations manager Shelly Berger (played here by Ryan M. Hunt); this is very much an authorized story, as you might expect, without any curveballs or controversy. Given that, Ain’t Too Proud manages to make room for some darkness, befitting a group that was beset by contentious dynamics, conflict and ultimately tragedy.

Queen Elizabeth Theatre - Vancouver, BC, Canada

Alyson Eng, BroadwayWorld: At most, AIN’T TOO PROUD was a musical with passion, talent, and addictive music. It represented the brotherhood of the original The Temptations well through the telling of their personal and political conflict struggles throughout that time period. Being a biographical musical, the show definitely catered to a certain audience. The plot featured many storylines that were predictable coming from a successful music group. Putting emphasis on drug-use, reliability of its members, and family relationships, the behind-the-scenes moments that went on between the original members were nothing out of the ordinary. AIN’T TOO PROUD wasn’t as flashy and filled with exciting gimmicks as some of the other musicals that have come to Vancouver have given. At the basis of everything, AIN’T TOO PROUD was as genuine to the music and story as it could have been.

Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium - Calgary

Ramiro Bustamante Torres, The Gauntlet: For all-time fans of the Temptations, this is an exciting musical with all their hits and fan favourites, and for anyone who only knew of them in passing, this is the perfect opportunity to get to know more about the group and what they accomplished as pioneers of soul music and enjoy a captivating performance. 

Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium - Edmonton

Liane Faulder, Edmonton Journal: The through-line of the human resources disaster that was The Temptations is the music. The enduring harmonies, the heart-stopping dance moves and the persistent, positive vision of Williams keep the attention of the audience firmly on the stage. As performers, the singers were cohesive, with tremendous bench strength that made it possible for each person to take the lead singer’s position during the songs that worked best for them.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts - Costa Mesa, CA

Michael Quintos, BroadwayWorld: To say AIN'T TOO PROUD is pure music nostalgia bait by design is putting it mildly. In fact, the ability to truly enjoy this musical hinges foremost on the audience's affections for these songs, which are doled out mostly as spectacular (but unfortunately shortened) musical numbers that are pushed forward on its swiftly-moving conveyor belt to pleasantly remind us what songs can be credited to them.

San Jose Center for the Performing Arts - San Jose, CA

Linda Hodges, BroadwayWorld: Though AIN’T TOO PROUD follows in the footsteps of other jukebox bio-musicals like Beautiful and Jersey Boys, the show must, of course, deal with racism, and in their case, the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Scenic designer Robert Brill’s use of larger-than-life photo stills of King’s funeral bring us into the moment, and it is extraordinarily disturbing that the rampant racism of the 60s is still with us today.

SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center - Sacramento, CA

Courtney Symes, BroadwayWorld: From the opening strains of “Ain’t Too Proud,” we are on a ride of pure entertainment. The audience’s delight and anticipation were palpable, lending electricity to an already charged atmosphere. The cast left everything they had on stage, particularly Elijah Ahmad Lewis, whose charismatic David Ruffin was astonishingly captivating as he veered between heartthrob and villain. His more serious counterpart, Michael Andreaus’ Otis Williams, brought a practical side to the group, although he was not without his own trials. Andreaus did a fine job navigating a complex role, leading us through the many rebirths of The Temptations as they faced different obstacles. Breaking through to a white market, deaths, addictions, and separations were all covered by Andreaus in his resigned way. The other members were also fantastic. Paul Williams (E. Clayton Cornelious), Eddie Kendricks (Devin Holloway), and Melvin Franklin (Harrell Holmes, Jr.) are all vocal powerhouses gifted with some smooth moves (choreographed by Sergio Trujillo).

ASU Gammage - Tempe, AZ

Herbert Paine, BroadwayWorld: Continuing ASU’s 2023/24 season of touring productions, and hot on the heels of the Tina Turner jukebox musical, comes another celebrity-based jukebox musical, AIN’T TOO PROUD. With a backlog of songs that when heard can’t fail but create instant sixties and early seventies nostalgia, this visually exciting, maximum high-energy, professional production covers the story (so far) of The Temptations, “The number one group in the history of rhythm and blues!” as the narrator proudly proclaims. 

Ed Mirvish Theatre - Toronto

Samantha Wu, BroadwayWorld: Seeing these songs on stage again, paired with those slick, sensuous dance moves that have inspired countless pop acts since, is something to be remembered. Simply put, this cast is perfect. Lewis is mesmerizing as David Ruffin, his voice is otherworldly and left me gobsmacked and speechless. Lewis seamlessly embodies the boldness, pride, and sheer audacity that Ruffin holds winning over adoring female fans at the height of his Temptations career. Likewise, Harris as Eddie Kendricks is charismatic and driven by his convictions. The chemistry on stage with this cast is explosive. Holmes' deep bass voice is chilling; it just hits you in the best kind of way.

Fisher Theatre - Detroit, MI

Brian Kitson, Cosmic Circus: I’m a big fan of a jukebox musical, as the songs tend to be ones that most people know. It makes the show easily accessible to theatergoers because they can recognize the music and get into the show a bit deeper. As well, as someone who grew up in Michigan and listening to that Motown sound, I knew many of these songs, although perhaps not some of the names. For these two reasons alone, Ain’t Too Proud was an enjoyable show and I had a lot of fun taking it in. 

National Arts Centre - Ottawa, ON

Courtney Castelino, BroadwayWorld: Throughout the show, Southam Hall is filled with familiar music that brings back fond memories of our childhoods, or nostalgic reminiscences of our parents or grandparents. The Temptations’ music includes the hit singles, “My Girl”, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”, and “Just My Imagination”. With these magical moments, however, also comes the reminder of a darker time in history, when people fought violently in support of segregation, while simultaneously buying the Temptations’ records and attending their concerts. This juxtaposition is briefly, but powerfully shown using the Temptations’ 1968 song, “I Wish It Would Rain” and is easily my favourite part of the show. 

Lynn Saxberg, Ottawa Citizen: As you can imagine, the songbook is first-class, consisting of more than 30 tunes, mostly by the Temptations but also including material by their chart rivals, The Supremes, and other Motown acts. The performers are accompanied by a polished orchestra at the back of the stage, hidden behind a curtain. 

Providence Performing Arts Center - Providence, RI

Christopher Verleger, BroadwayWorld: The cast is a veritable hotbed of talent, and while Otis may rightfully preach that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” every performer who steps on the stage delivers his—and her—own vocal mastery. Speaking of which, kudos to Shayla Brielle G. as Tammi Terrell and Quiana Onrae’l Holmes as Josephine (Otis’s wife) for their understated performances, as well as the cameo appearance by The Supremes.

Auditorium Theatre - Rochester, NY

Leah Stacy, Roc City Mag: Casting choices are immaculate; each of the five original “Temps” are scene-stealing triple threats with serious stage presence. Much of the narration and dialogue is (impressively) sung-through, and with more than 25 songs in two-and-a-half hours, “Ain’t Too Proud” feels like both a full-blown concert and a workout for the leading actors (and the five-person orchestra, conducted by Jonathan “Smitti” Smith). Dressed in dapper suits, The Temps often pull out handkerchiefs to mop gleaming brows while dancing to toe-tapping choreography by Sergio Trujillo.

Kennedy Center - Washington, DC

Ken Kemp, BroadwayWorld: The national tour of Ain't Too Proud makes an all-too-brief stop at The Kennedy Center's Opera House through February 18th, and it's a dramatic and musical roller coaster through the heyday of The Temptations, the superstar Motown R&B vocal group.

Ilana Jael, MD Theatre Guide: Each actor is more than capable of singing and dancing his way through the Temptation’s demanding catalog, and each also gives a unique personality to the very different characters whose love of music unites them. They are joined by an equally gifted ensemble of performers who play the subsequent Temptations and an array of other characters in their lives.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall - Sarasota, FL

Shanti Kennedy, BroadwayWorld: Ain’t too Proud starts out swinging, without a break, with glorious music. The story of The Temptations is elevated through Motown’s songbook. There is not a song (of the over 30 songs in this production) that is not well known by all of us! This music, dancing and remarkable projection design take us through the story spanning over 30 years of the career of the original lineup.


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