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BWW Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD TO BEG at Belk Theater

The Life and Times Of The Temptations

BWW Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD TO BEG at Belk Theater

Ain't Too Proud To Beg (ATPTB), The Life and Times Of The Temptations, based on the book by Dominique Morisseau, is a compelling, "tell-all" biographical musical about the triumphs and trials of Motown's number one male group. The group members included: Otis Williams (Marcus Paul James), Paul Williams (James T. Lane), Melvin Franklin (Harrell Holmes, Jr.), Eddie Kendricks (Jalene Harris), David Ruffin (Elijah Ahmad Lewis), Al Bryant (Brett Michael Lockley), and Dennis Edwards (Harris Matthew). Al, David, and Dennis were lead singers at different time periods. I have to give kudos to the actors who portrayed these incredible singers because they did a superb job. I saw images of the real Temptations as I viewed their performances. This foot-tapping musical gives a candidate snapshot of the "highs" and "lows" of these talented Detroit-based singers...narrated through its original founder, Otis Williams. Oftentimes, I'm saddened when I see the lives of these guys recapped because there is so much tragedy involved in each of their lives that seemed to be magnified by their fame and sometimes misfortune.

One of the most heart-wrenching depictions is that of the lead singer, David Ruffin. ATPTB painted a picture of David's tumultuous childhood in that his father physically abused women and that horrible trait passed down to his son. David was romantically linked with Tammi Terrell, who was musically connected to Marvin Gaye. Marvin and Tammi made some memorable chart-topping songs to include Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing. I remember them being the king and queen of love ballads back in the 70's. The musical revealed that David physically abused Tammi in public and in private. Not only was it disclosed in ATPTB that he was a domestic violence abuser; it also indicated that he was a drug addict. It is mentioned that Tammi Terrell's untimely death due to a brain aneurism may have escalated his addiction. His erratic behavior and his constant absences led to him being expelled from the group. Even though The Temptations tried to sever ties with David, he would randomly and unexpectedly appear on stage although he had been replaced by lead singer, Dennis Edwards. His tragic demise by a drug overdose was heartbreaking. So much talent, so much pain. David was replaced by Dennis Edwards, who unfortunately also had a problem with drug abuse.

Paul Williams, original member, who was the group's choreographer at one point, was also plagued by substance abuse (alcoholism). His excessive use of alcohol coupled with bouts of depression also led him to his untimely death.

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 name a few. So, it's understandable why editors of Rolling Stone magazine commented that the Temptations are "Indisputably the greatest black vocal group of the Modern Era...". I agree...but I believe they are the greatest group...period. They are legends and left a legacy that will never be forgotten.

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From This Author - Vickie Evans