Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD at Van Wezel

What did our critic think of AIN'T TOO PROUD at Van Wezel?

By: Feb. 22, 2024
Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD at Van Wezel
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Following the story of The “Classic Five” Temptations, this 2017 musical brings to life the powerhouse group that we all know, love, and recognize. From their origination in Detroit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we are taken through how they each met, their personal afflictions and everything in between that tore the group apart. Their love (or lack thereof) lives, their addictions(or abstaining that was juxtaposing) and the ego-maniacal  that comes with fame is analyzed with off stage monologues and analysis that draws the crowd into the story.

Ain’t too Proud was first seen at the Berkley Repertory Theatre in 2017. The play then moved to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and continued to move around until it ended up in New York City. Opening at Broadway’s Imperial Theater in March 2019, Ain’t too Proud played through January 2022 with interruption by the pandemic. The original Broadway production was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, winning Best Choreography. The show was also nominated for Best Musical Theater Album by the Grammy Awards. The US Tour that we see in Sarasota today started in December 2021 and is still going strong.

Ain’t too Proud starts out swinging, without a break, with glorious music. The story of The Temptations is elevated through Motown’s songbook. There is not a song (of the over 30 songs in this production) that is not well known by all of us! This music, dancing and remarkable projection design take us through the story spanning over 30 years of the career of the original lineup.

We, the audience, are addressed directly and this crowd was eager to respond! Michael Andreaus, portraying Otis Williams, tells us the story of The Temptations from day one through today. In the duration of Ain’t too Proud we are shown the happiness and pitfalls of fame and earned fortune that come from hard work and tenacity. The saddest thing about this show was that it ended! This show was such an uplifting performance and knock out by every performer to come on stage! Between the smooth moves of Jalen Harris as Eddie Kendrick and E. Clayton Cornelious as Paul Williams to the perfect bass-tone of Harrell Holmes as Melvin Franklin and the soul-baring singing of Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin, each brought to life the magic that was The Temptations.

At the conclusion Otis tells us that there have been 27 Temptations to date. With the role they are on, there may be even more! To date, they have had 37 singles reach the Billboard Top 40 in the US, with four reaching #1. On the R&B singles chart, the group scored a record 71 Top 40 singles, with 14 reaching #1.

Do yourself a huge favor, get your tickets, search for The Temptations on your music-listening platform of choice, and Get Ready(pun intended)!

Ain’t Too Proud- The Life and Times of the Temptations is playing at the Van Wezel through Sunday February 25th with matinee and evening shows available.

Sidenote: Otis Williams is STILL performing with the present lineup of The Temptations (they are set to be at various venues in Florida in March