Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD at Bass Concert Hall

I'm begging you to see this show

By: Mar. 29, 2023
Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD at Bass Concert Hall
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"We made history, but there is no progress without sacrifice." These words hung in the air throughout the evening. Ain't Too Proud depicts the story of The Temptations through the eyes of one of its founding members, Otis Williams. It traces the eventual number 1 group from their humble beginnings as young men with a simple love for singing, through the tumultuous comings and goings of their many members, and concludes shortly after their 1982 reunion tour. Covering an impressive twenty two years in the process.

Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD at Bass Concert Hall
Photo Credit: Emilio Madrid

Fans of The Temptations, Motown, or R&B will surely enjoy the music. Favorites like "My Girl," "Get Ready," Papa Was A Rolling Stone," and many more make their musical appearance. This production tackles an impressive thirty one musical numbers in total. While each number is not necessarily performed in its entirety, each one is performed seamlessly. This exhaustive show is clearly performed with incredible dedication by its cast, crew, and musicians. In a production like this, the music has to be on point and Ain't Too Proud sticks that point every time. During the curtain call, I was struck by how much talent was assembled on stage.

While I would normally devote time to calling attention to specific actors, that is simply not practical as each cast member deserves many accolades. Each principal role is filled by an actor of notable skill. This is true of the ensemble roles as well. This company is made up of true triple threats. I should also mention that the orchestra and its conductor are just as talent filled. It was clear that the cast and orchestra have melded into an incredible musical being.

The technical elements of the show should be lauded as well. From the sound, to lights, to quick changes, and all the other pieces, the show ran with notable smoothness. My guest and I, who have both been working in technical theater for quite some time, were both impressed by the numerous technical pieces.

Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD at Bass Concert Hall
Photo Credit: Emilio Madrid

This production carries an important reminder. In a time where statements like "Black Lives Matter" are considered controversial, Ain't Too Proud audiences are reminded that we are barely separated from the Civil Rights Movement. This production recalls moments from the group's history where their race was made into a stumbling block. They were elated to be performing on American Bandstand, but the projected photos of real AB audiences remind us that they performed for an all White audience. The long-running show made up its live audience of all White members until 1964. It also depicts a moment during one of their early tours, where their tour bus was shot at while traveling through the south. During another point of the performance, The Temptations discuss their inability to reach the number one spot on the charts that was claimed by The Supremes. It is remarked that The Supremes held that spot because they have "Whiter appeal" rather than "wider appeal." The music pierces through the past, into the present, and straight into our humanity.

This production features gunshot sound effects, flashing lights, depictions of drug use, and strong language including racially charged language and slurs. It runs for approximately 2.5 hours with a 20 minute intermission. Ain't Too Proud will be in Austin through April 2nd.


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