Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD at the Ohio Theatre - A Sensational Celebration of Motown and Brotherhood

Playing at the Ohio Theatre through April 24th

By: Apr. 19, 2023
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Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD at the Ohio Theatre - A Sensational Celebration of Motown and Brotherhood
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Ain't Too Proud
Photo Credit: Emilio Madrid

AIN'T TOO PROUD - The Life and Times of The Temptations, came rolling into the Ohio Theatre with explosive energy, incredible talent, phenomenal voices, dashing costumes, and Tony-Award winning choreography that had Columbus up on their feet. This sensational production, brilliantly directed by Des McAnuff and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo (the same dynamite duo who also brought you JERSEY BOYS), expertly tells the story of The Temptations through the eyes of its only remaining member, Otis Williams, from the early beginnings and struggles to the present day. Featuring a brilliant mix of their smashing Motown hits, each song is cleverly woven into the storyline to create smooth and flawless transitions throughout their extraordinary journey.

We first see Otis Williams (played by Michael Andreaus) as a 16-year-old boy from Detroit who is sent to jail for 6 months. After serving his time, Otis vows to the Court with his hand to God that he will follow his passion for singing and will never step foot into a courtroom again. From that moment onward, Williams stays true to his word and drafts a local group of talented singers and dancers that become known as "Otis and the Distants." Rapidly moving through their story, we witness the rise and fall of the group, the several name changes, the dismantling, reconstructing, reuniting, and ultimately forming of a lifelong brotherhood, even in death. We also watch their addictions, love interests and heartbreaks, along with their internal torments and challenges, all in record speed. The pacing only slows for moments of grief - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, the death of Otis's son Lamont, Paul Williams's suicide, David Ruffin's drug overdose, Eddie Kendricks's fall to lung cancer, and the death of Melvin Franklin to arthritis.

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.

Some shoutouts are required, though. "My Girl," "(I Know) I'm Losing You," "Just My Imagination," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," "You're My Everything," "Gloria" by the Cadillacs, and a somber tribute to MLK in "I Wish It Would Rain" are some of the several songs that brought the house down.

The women performers are intricately woven into the storyline and include the group's first manager who launched their career, Johnnie Mae, various love interests, and The Supremes who nudged out The Temptations for #1 hits during their rise to stardom.

The design team (Robert Brill, scenic design; Howell Binkley, lighting design; Peter Nigrini, projection design) brilliantly uses light, shadows, and moving pieces to set the tone and effortlessly reflect the headlights of Motor City and the members of The Temptations who constantly move in and out of the group as if they are on a conveyor belt. The incredible orchestra under the direction of Jonathan "Smitti" Smith features eight local musicians in addition to the five touring performers, all who are revealed on stage and celebrated before the final curtain drop.

The Temptations is not just a story about their career; it's a celebration of brotherhood with honest conflicts, internal emotional struggles, political strife, and ultimate unification, all told through the eyes of one man who started it all - who vowed his hand to God to follow his passion for singing and never step foot into the courtroom again. Ain't it ironic that Otis Williams is the last man standing?

You don't want to miss this powerful performance with polished moves, explosive energy, heartfelt story, and incredible talent that celebrates the legendary music of Motown by one of the greatest musical groups of all time.

AIN'T TOO PROUD runs through April 23rd at the Ohio Theatre. For tickets or more information, visit


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