Musical biographies have become all the rage on screen and onstage. In the past year, jukebox musicals chronicling the lives of Cher, Donna Summer, and now The Temptations have graced the Great White Way, and they are still going strong. The best of the latest Broadway bunch is Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations, which takes us into the lives of the biggest R&B group on the famed Motown Records label.
We know many of their songs like “My Girl,” “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone,” “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me),” and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.” Now we’re getting to know them better, and there is plenty to explore in the show. In 2017, Billboard magazine named The Temptations the top all-time artist in the history of R&B and hip-hop. They scored 16 No. 1 spots on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, 14 chart-toppers on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and 43 Top-10s from the ‘60s through the ‘90s. They also earned three Grammy Awards and have been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Beyond the hits and behind the curtain, interpersonal conflicts, business friction and recreational temptations often threatened the musical and personal harmony of the group. Portrayed fictionally, group leader Otis Williams, the co-founder and bandleader (who still performs with newer members today), is the narrator and our guide through the band’s odyssey from local Detroit heroes to international sensations.
Much of the creative team behind Ain’t Too Proud worked on the biggest jukebox musical in Broadway history, Jersey Boys. These members, most of whom also worked on Summer (with music from Donna Summer) include director Des McAnuff, choreographer Sergio Trujillo, lighting designer Howell Binkley, musical coordinator John Miller and sound designer Steve Canyon Kennedy, who spoke to us about working on this show.
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