Though I was too young when The Temptations were at their peak to say I grew up with them, I was old enough to know that they were men that the older boys in the neighborhood wanted to emulate - - and their parent’s approved. I am not sure how my “generation” would handle a 150-minute play on Super Freak Rick James - - and even if we would approve.
The two-and-half-hour biographical musical “Ain’t Too Proud” generally covers the 24 well-appointed, but flawed men who at one time or another were members of the Motown group that cranked out 42 Top Ten Hits, with 14 of them reaching number one. Told from the perspective of the now 80-year-old and “the last man standing” Otis Williams, the play shared their stories, accomplishments, and flaws with impactful, concise sketches.
A live orchestra pleasantly doused the sketches with great music. “Rehashing the Motown sound of The Temptations from the 60s felt good inside,” said Vanessa Petty. Adding to the audible experience was the great scenery that was often dominated by a marque but sometimes inserted with pleasant surprises such as a “moving” red Cadillac.
As with any Motown performance, one would expect, and we got, dramatic chorography. The big surprise is that of all the many Motown characters, Williams paid homage to Tammi Terrell and, of course, The Supremes, who gave about three well-gowned, unbeatable performances. As with other stories from this period, the play paid homage to Martin Luther King, Jr and how his assassination affected The Temptations and their music.