Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center

The Temptations are the latest music group to receive the Broadway treatment.

By: Dec. 11, 2021
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Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center

Ain't Too Proud follows the journey of The Temptations 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. Through friendship and betrayal amid the civil unrest that tore America apart, their moving and personal story still resonates five decades later.

After a series of four out-of-town tryouts in Berkeley, California, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Toronto, Ain't Too Proud opened on March 21st, 2019 at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. It went on to receive 12 Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical). After a year-long delay due to COVID-19, the show has just launched its national tour, and Durham just so happens to be its first stop.

As for my thoughts on the musical itself, book writer Dominique Morisseau does such an expert job of narrowing down all the events Otis Williams and the original Temptations have gone through into a two and a half hour script. Tons of information flies by right at the seat of your pants. Director Des McAnuff also keeps things moving very well in his staging. The lighting designed by Howell Binkley, who sadly died of lung cancer in Jacksonville, North Carolina back in August of last year, is so dynamic. Not only are there standout moments with all the musical numbers (that are brought to life with the help of Sergio Trujillo's highly energetic choreography and Harold Wheeler's upbeat orchestrations), but also more tender moments in the book scenes that are handled very well by the strong performances of the cast.

Marcus Paul James makes for quite a compelling Otis Williams, the last surviving member of the original Temptations who narrates this musical. Harrell Holmes, Jr. is a comedic highlight as bass singer Melvin Franklin. Elijah Ahmad Lewis gives such an outstanding performance as David Ruffin, who was later fired from the group due to his difficult behavior. He even gets to show off some powerhouse vocals at different points in the show. Jalen Harris is very charismatic as Eddie Kendricks, who became detached from The Temptations following Ruffin's departure. James T. Lane is terrific as Paul Williams, who ended up departing the group after having fallen into depression due to stress from performing and personal issues.

Overall, Ain't Too Proud is a great crowd-pleasing musical that tells the remarkable true story behind The Temptations. This show is able to provide a good amount of historical context to what happened during the era of the classic 5. Audiences are absolutely gonna go nuts for it.

For more information regarding the tour, please visit:


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