Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD at Ed Mirvish Theatre

The life and times of Motown's greatest group, The Temptations, is on stage for a limited time.

By: Dec. 10, 2023
Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD at Ed Mirvish Theatre

The Temptations are, hands down, one of Motown's most influential groups who lit up the American music charts throughout the 60s and 70s turning out hits like "My Girl", "If You Don't Know Me by Now" and "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)". Throughout their dazzling yet tumultuous, they picked up three Grammy Awards solidifying them as the first Motown act to pick up a Grammy for their song "Cloud Nine" and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. To this day, with original founding member Otis Williams still leading the way, The Temptations continue to enchant audiences across the globe.

Ain't Too Proud, playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre for a limited engagement, brings the life and times of Motown's finest to the Toronto stage in a toe-tapping "Behind the Music"-style spectacular that will leave audiences jaw-dropped.

The story is narrated by Otis Williams (played by Michael Andreaus) as he searches through potential members until the original five were formed - with Paul Williams (E. Clayton Cornelius), Melvin Franklin (Harrell Holmes Jr.), Eddie Kendricks (Jalen Harris), and David Ruffin (Elijah Ahmad Lewis) rounding out the quintet.

As far as jukebox musicals go, Ain't Too Proud is everything you'd want and expect from one. Whether or not you grew up with classic Motown being a consistent factor in your life, The Temptations music has been used in film and television for years and everyone remembers a Temptations song fondly; everyone remembers where they were when they first heard it. The Temptations music has become ubiquitous with pop culture since the 60s.

Seeing these songs on stage again, paired with those slick, sensuous dance moves that have inspired countless pop acts since, is something to be remembered. Simply put, this cast is perfect. Lewis is mesmerizing as David Ruffin, his voice is otherworldly and left me gobsmacked and speechless. Lewis seamlessly embodies the boldness, pride, and sheer audacity that Ruffin holds winning over adoring female fans at the height of his Temptations career. Likewise, Harris as Eddie Kendricks is charismatic and driven by his convictions. The chemistry on stage with this cast is explosive. Holmes' deep bass voice is chilling; it just hits you in the best kind of way.

To round out the experience, scenic designer Robert Brill, projection designer Peter Nigrini, sound by Steve Canyon Kennedy, and lights by Howell Binkley come together to create a the perfect visual spectacle to carry this story home. They've created a show that feels just like VH1's Behind the Music brought to stage.

For people looking for a break from holiday and Christmas stage shows, Ain't Too Proud is the perfect stage spectacle for the music fan in your life. This should not be missed.

Photo Credit: Emilio Madrid