[Review] Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations Brings the Motown Story Home in a Music Spectacular

Photo: Broadway in Detroit

Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations, finally made it home. After being delayed by COVID, the musical that had its Broadway premiere in 2019 is finally in its hometown of Detroit.

To celebrate this big homecoming, Broadway in Detroit hosted Motown nights, featuring performances by the Detroit Youth Choir and Detroit All City Marching band, and even featured a red carpet. On opening night, audience members were graced by the presence of the musical’s book writer, Detroit native Dominique Morisseau and the last living original Temptation, Otis Williams.

The musical is told from Otis’ point of view spanning decades, starting from moving to Detroit as a child to his first musical group The Elgins, to meeting Barry Gordy and becoming The Temptations, to the pitfalls of fame. The play shows that the group name was a bit of a sad prophecy, showing all the temptations that come with being a celebrity.

Although The Temptations lineup changes a few times, the musical focuses on the “Classic Five” era with Marcus Paul James at Otis Williams, Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin, Jalen Harris as Eddie Kendricks, Harrell Holmes Jr. as Melvin Franklin, and James T. Lane as Paul Williams.

While most musicals have a few dance numbers, this musical is a nonstop singing and dancing extravaganza, with 29 songs being performed. It’s a beautiful feat to see that cast keep up their stamina for two and a half hours. It deserved its Tony for best choreography, even elevating the real Temptations dance moves.

The musical is also heartbreaking when reality catches up to the Temptations. The untimely passing of members brings tears to even the toughest audience member. Even in these sad moments, the musical is a beautiful love letter to one of the best groups of all time.

Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations is now playing at the Detroit Opera House until August 28th. You can buy tickets here.