‘Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations’ Sweeps All Generations Off Their Feet

Take a trip through the ‘60s and ‘70s of the journey with the hit Motown group at the Providence Performing Arts Center.
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National Touring Company of Ain’t Too Proud. Credit: © 2021 Emilio Madrid

Detroit, Michigan, the 1960s. Five young male singers — Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and David Ruffin — formed a group called The Temptations and took off on the ride of their lives.

Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations follows the group’s extraordinary musical and personal journey, highlighting the highs and lows of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Based on the group’s original lyrics and books by Williams and Dominique Morisseau, the musical is on its first national tour featuring top hits “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” “Get Ready,” “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” and many more. The show runs through April 17 at PPAC.

Williams, the founder and the last surviving original member of the group, serves as an executive producer for the musical. The ever-changing, elaborate set clues the audience on the location and time period of their journey, with tour cities plastered across the stage.

The musical is beyond just a tribute to the iconic rhythm-and-blues phenomenon. The story is told through a mix of music and narration from Otis Williams (Marcus Paul James) of how the group came to be, the trials and tribulations of showbiz and racial segregation, along with the personal struggles of each member. While the world saw meticulously choreographed smooth moves and swoon-worthy lyrics, they seemed to forget that they, too, were just human beings who quickly rose to stardom and had to balance relationships, family and addiction.

“We tend to glamorize celebrities but they’ve sacrificed their lives,” says Deri’Andra Tucker, who stars as Diana Ross of The Supremes.

Tucker says that while it’s an honor to be playing someone she watched on VH1 (she says she was glued to the TV), the musical has educated her on the things she didn’t know about The Temptations, things that happened behind the curtain.

Michael Andreaus, who stars as Berry Gordy, the head of Motown Records, grew up listening to the group along with Stevie Wonder and The Four Tops, stating they have “been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember.” When he found out he was cast as Gordy, he was overwhelmed as he saw him as a mythical figure in the music world.

With countless hits from The Temptations, The Supremes and bands alike, everyone in the audience will find themselves singing along as the music has spread across generations.

“The music is so timeless,” Andreaus says. “Even if you don’t know the original song, you know the hook, you’ve heard it in another song.”

Tucker believes “Just My Imagination” to be like a lullaby, and when sung by Jalen Harris as Eddie Kendricks, “it’s honey.” Andreaus loves “(I Know) I’m Losing You” transitioning into “I Wish It Would Rain,” as it expresses “a rollercoaster of emotions in that moment” and “uses music in a way you wouldn’t expect that touches on highs and lows of this group.”

If you go:

The musical has been touring since December. Now nearly 117 shows into the tour, Ain’t Too Proud will be at the theater through April 17. Tickets range from $20 to $94. Masks are welcome but not required, nor are proof of vaccination or COVID testing. Visit ppacri.org for tickets and showtimes.