This production runs from May 23rd through 28th

By: May. 24, 2023
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Ain't Too Proud

Coming into this production, I really wasn’t sure what to expect since my knowledge of the show was pretty limited. Here’s what I knew: The Temptations. Jukebox musical. Huge buzz. As I settled into my seat, I was wondering what’s this buzz about? Surely, seeing another jukebox musical couldn’t be some revolutionary experience. That’s exactly where I was wrong.

AIN’T TOO PROUD follows the story of The Temptations, the hit group from the 1960s, and their journey to the top of the charts, as narrated by original member, Otis Williams. We see the beginnings of their greatness, and the struggles that both the individuals and the collective faced as they rose to stardom, especially as black men during the Civil Rights Movement. 

Ain't Too Proud
(L–R)-Michael Andreaus, Jalen Harris, Harrell Holmes Jr., Elijah Ahmad Lewis, E. Clayton Cornelious ​from the National Touring Company of Ain’t Too Proud. Credit: ©2023 Emilio Madrid.

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. 

From the very beginning of the show, I could see exactly why people were on the edge of their seats. This cast contains some of the most talented performers, through and through. From the ensemble to the principal tracks, there was not a single weak link. Michael Andreaus as Otis Williams was a compelling narrator and conveyed the story so clearly to the audience, making that connection hypnotic.

Ain't Too Proud
Jalen Harris
and the National Touring Company of Ain’t Too Proud.
Credit: © 2023 Emilio Madrid.

Jalen Harris as Eddie Kendricks brought a unique sound with a raspy tenor, and he performed directly to the audience in such a captivating manner. E. Clayton Cornelious as Paul Williams and Harrell Holmes Jr. as Melvin Franklin had brilliant portrayals, and I kept finding my attention drawn to them. The standout performers of the night for me were Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin and Quiana Onrae’l Holmes as Josephine. Listening to these two artists brought me to tears on several occasions throughout the night. I have never had live vocals evoke such intense emotions out of me, and it was one of the most exquisite experiences as someone who resonates greatly with music and sound. Other vocal highlights were found in Devin Price as Al Bryant, Dwayne P. Mitchell as Dennis Edwards, and Amber Mariah Talley as Diana Ross. The ensemble and featured roles were always dynamic and electrifying to watch. Although this story is about The Temptations, I almost wish that the ensemble was featured more.

Ain't Too Proud
Brittny Smith, Amber Mariah Talley, Shayla Brielle G.
from the National Touring Company of Ain’t Too Proud.
Credit: ©2023 Emilio Madrid.

Bringing in the other musical groups of the time, especially The Supremes, and weaving them into the story was a clever way to show the passage of time and also break up the same barbershop kind of sound from getting bogged down. 

Impeccable vocals aside, the choreography by Sergio Trujillo was another magnificent piece of the puzzle. Every single number had harmonious movement, transcending just the iconic steps of The Temptations. One of the greatest feats of this production was that even in complete unison, every individual dancer could make it their own, and tailor the move ever so slightly to best showcase their own body and person that they portrayed. This was impeccably done by every performer.

The only real pitfall of the show would be that the technical aspects weren’t quite perfect. The orchestra was louder than the solo vocalist at times, and the followspot light was frequently out of frame, delayed, or shaking which was unfortunately pulling focus from the actors on stage. I want to simply chalk this up as a minor snafu, but it was something that my mind kept going back to.

Ain't Too Proud
Elijah Ahmad Lewis, Jalen Harris, Michael Andreaus,
Harrell Holmes Jr., E. Clayton Cornelious
fromthe National Touring Company of Ain’t Too Proud.
Credit: ©2023 Emilio Madrid.

Overall, the story is tumultuous and the political aspects still ring true in today’s society. The vocal talent, the raw emotion that is packed into every moment of the show, and the astonishing visuals created in the production are otherworldly. I urge you all to get your tickets for AIN'T TOO PROUD at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, NY, to see for yourself what the buzz is about, and why their music will continue to live on forever. 

AIN'T TOO PROUD runs from May 23rd through May 28th at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, NY. Tickets and additional information can be found at


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