Broadway in Chicago has brought “Ain’t too proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations” to the Cadillac Palace Theater and I loved it! I still have the albums and 45’s of the Temptations and still have fond memories of high school parties listening to songs like “Fading Away” and “Please Return Your Love to Me.” Okay, you may not know that one, it was a while ago.
The story is told by the original member and founder of the group Otis Williams, played by Marcus Paul James. We get a history lesson on how he came to Detroit from the south, found his love of music and started the group with classic members Otis Williams (Marcus Paul James), Paul Williams (James T. Lane), Melvin Franklin (Harrell Holmes, Jr.), Eddie Kendricks (Jalen Harris,), and David Ruffin (Elijah Ahmad Lewis.)
From the first note to the last there is good music and movement and most of us were taken back to warm memories of our youth. The story tells the ups and downs the group experienced and working with Berry Gordy and Motown. We understand the changes to the group and why they happened.
The audience is invited to sing along loudly and wrong if you like, and I am proud to say, I did both on my favorite songs…which was all of them.
I had a conversation with James T. Lane who plays Paul Williams about the cast mastering the smooth moves of the Temptations. He replied, “Well what’s funny is, Sergio Trujillo is the choreographer. So, what he did so beautifully was, he took their iconic style, the smoothness, the suaveness, the steps, The Temptations walk, The Temptations moves, and then he expanded on that to make it into a musical. So, we’ve got transitions. We’re definitely in concert mode where you see us doing, ‘Ain’t Too Proud to Beg’ and ‘Get Ready Because Here We Come,’ but then you do… we do stuff like ‘For Once in My Life,’ which describes what Paul is going through in his life. So, we take the performance aspect in various scenarios, and we bring these musical numbers to life. Paul was the first choreographer of the group.”
Otis Williams, the only surviving original member of the group is Executive Producer of “Ain’t too proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” and is still performing and writing music. Through the narration we see the trials and tribulations he went through trying to keep the group together and putting his trust in Motown and their vision for the group, although it stifled his dream to write music for the group.
I know the story is about the Temptations, but I have to give props to the ladies in the show who play the roles of the Supremes, Tammi Terrell, Josephine, and other female characters. These ladies’ voices were amazing and more than once stopped the show.
I guarantee, when you leave the theater after the show you will be singing all the old Motown hits and feeling good.
Until next time, keep your EYE to the sky!