By kayla Ross, Staff Writer
In two words, Ain’t Too Proud is impressively dynamic. The storytelling of this impeccable performance had me “Smiling Faces Sometimes” and “Fading Away” the next minute.
The jukebox musical Ain’t Too Proud features the tumultuous story of The Temptations, best known for their song “My Girl.” This musical follows the stories of each Temptation, their various lovers and, in the cases of a few members, their tragic deaths.
It is narrated by the character Otis Williams, the founding member of the singing group that defined a generation of music. The Temptations were represented by Motown Records, a star-maker record label in the 1960s and ‘70s that focused on the blues and soul genres.
The show quite literally opens on a high note, as the five Temptations sing and groove to an energetic number in front of what appears to be a set of auditorium doors. Setting and lighting both change frequently throughout the show with the mood of the music and story.
The physical set pieces are simple and only have a few changes throughout the show. Ain’t Too Proud is unique in that projections and lighting are responsible for most of its thematic changes. Projections are used to transport the audience from city to city, making a viewer feel as if they truly are on tour with The Temptations.
This musical also serves as a powerful reminder of the impact of the civil rights movement. The show has a number at the end of Act I that demonstrates the influence Martin Luther King Jr. had on the U.S., and in turn, the music industry.
The musical tells the story of how The Temptations, as a group of five Black men, faced many setbacks while rising to stardom in the American music industry of the 1960s. The cast is almost entirely composed of Black actors and actresses.
Although the show mainly follows the men that made The Temptations into the best-selling soul group of all time, the women of this show are what make Ain’t Too Proud entirely captivating. The musical’s score includes songs by The Supremes and Tammi Terrell, as well as a few other top hits from the era.
The actresses portraying The Supremes execute their roles very convincingly and are the most charming components of the show. The actress portraying Terrell plays her role very passionately as the lover of David Ruffin, one member of The Temptations. The women of this musical tie together the differing plotlines of The Temptations seamlessly.
Ain’t Too Proud is a must-see for anyone who enjoys quality music and an enthralling story. This musical illustrates the sweet songs of The Temptations in a larger-than-life way.
This is one of the most entertaining shows I have ever seen. It takes the audience through consistent plot twists and turns, all while impressing the audience with the actors’ incredible vocal abilities.
Ain’t Too Proud will be performed at the Aronoff Center for the Arts through March 27.