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Ain't Too Proud:
AINT TOO PROUD, BOOK BY DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU, MUSIC AND LYRICS FROM THE LEGENDARY MOTOWN CATALOG, BASED ON THE BOOK ENTITLED THE TEMPTATIONS BY OTIS WILLIAMS WITH PATRICIA ROMANOWSKI, MUSIC BY ARRANGEMENT WITH SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING,DIRECTED BY DES MCANUFF, CHOREOGRAPHED BY SERGIO TRUJILLO, SCENIC DESIGN ROBERT BRILL, COSTUME DESIGN PAUL TAZEWELL, LIGHTING DESIGN HOWELL BINKLEY, SOUND DESIGN STEVE CANYON KENNEDY, PRODUCTION DESIGN PETER NIGRINI, PRINCE EDWARD THEATRE, 2023, Credit Johan Persson/

Ain’t Too Proud: Rhythm, Roots, Revolution

From the cobbled streets of Detroit to the shimmering stages of Broadway, The Temptations’ tumultuous journey, as showcased in ‘Ain’t Too Proud’, is more than just a delightful auditory treat – it’s a history lesson served with a dash of sass and a lot of soul.

For those unfamiliar with The Temptations’ deep-rooted legacy, a bit of context is in order. Rising from the smoke-filled clubs of Motor City, this group didn’t just dominate the charts; they redefined what it meant to be a vocal ensemble. With changing lineups over the years, their sound evolved, touching genres from doo-wop and R&B to psychedelia and funk. Their contribution wasn’t just to music but to a movement, a cultural shift in a racially charged America.

The musical ingeniously introduces us to a time when afros were bigger, collars wider, and when music didn’t just echo from vinyl but spoke to the collective consciousness of a society undergoing radical transformation. It’s a period piece, yes, but with a modern pulse that even those unfamiliar with the charms of yesteryear would find hard to resist.

Behind the Harmonies: Tales of Triumph and Turbulence

The evolution of The Temptations’ music is expertly mirrored in the show’s progression. Early tracks, including the harmonious ‘The Way You Do the Things You Do’, showcase their initial forays into the industry, setting the stage (quite literally) for the slew of hits that would follow. Then there’s the emblematic ‘My Girl’ – a song so iconic that even the first few chords induce a collective audience sigh of nostalgia.

But it’s not just about the hits; it’s about the deep cuts, the tracks that perhaps didn’t top charts but resonated deeply. Songs like ‘Cloud Nine’ and ‘Ball of Confusion’ illustrate the group’s ability to shift with the times, reflecting the socio-political changes around them. ‘Ain’t Too Proud’ ensures that these numbers, often overlooked in mainstream retrospectives, get their time in the spotlight, serving as poignant reminders of the ensemble’s versatility and depth.

Ain’t Too Proud

Now, the journey of The Temptations isn’t a walk in the park (or, should we say, a slide on the dance floor?). From chart-topping hits to management mishaps, personal vendettas to societal pressures, ‘Ain’t Too Proud’ uncovers the layers, pulling back the velvet curtains to reveal an ensemble not always in perfect harmony. And there lies the production’s genius: it doesn’t shy away from the gritty, the grim, the somewhat scandalous.

The Temptations: More than Just Music

The internal dynamics of the group are as captivating as their external performances. Revelations about David Ruffin’s soaring ego, Eddie Kendricks’ silent struggles, or the group’s tryst with Motown’s Berry Gordy give the narrative depth and authenticity. And just when things get a tad too heavy, the musical interjects with a witty one-liner or a humorous anecdote, ensuring the weight of history doesn’t dampen the evening’s spirited vibe.

It’s in this balanced mix of gravitas and cheeky humour where the musical truly excels. The classic ‘My Girl’ might have you swaying in sweet nostalgia one minute, while an irreverent quip about the group’s ever-revolving door of members will have you chuckling the next. This delightful juxtaposition keeps audiences on their toes, or at the very least, tapping them.

But let’s remember the setting: the 60s and 70s, a period rife with political unrest and social upheaval. The Temptations weren’t just crooners against this backdrop but vocal symbols of aspiration amidst the Civil Rights Movement. Their music, subtly or otherwise, addressed racial tensions, the Vietnam War, and urban decay. ‘Ain’t Too Proud’ skilfully weaves in these significant moments, reminding us that while the tunes were catchy, the context was anything but simplistic.

On a lighter note, the musical also serves as a delightful fashion retrospective. The sequined jackets, flashy ties, and, oh, those iconic dance moves! If nothing else, ‘Ain’t Too Proud’ might just inspire you to rummage through your grandparents’ wardrobe or try (and possibly fail) at mastering the Temptation Walk.

In closing, ‘Ain’t Too Proud’ is a brilliantly crafted blend of historical revelations, foot-tapping numbers, and clever humour. It’s more than just a musical; it’s an invitation to a bygone era, with The Temptations as your ever-so-stylish guides. One thing becomes clear as they serenade, dance, and jest: history, when sprinkled with a touch of humour and set to a Motown beat, is downright irresistible

 

Read KOL Social exclusive interview with original member: The Temptations Otis Williams

Tickets

Don’t miss your chance to see Aint Too Proud in London. Book your tickets on the Prince Edward Theatre website.

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