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

The tour is moving through the country throughout 2022.

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.

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