“Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – November 15, 2023


“Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Jukebox musicals have become a Broadway rage with new shows arriving regularly.  Since the fad has been indoctrinated into Great White Way programming, it is no surprise that tours of these recent hits end up on nationwide Broadway seasons with ASU Gammage no exception.

The latest to arrive locally is “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations” which premiered on Broadway in 2019 after a lengthy tryout that began in 2017.  The difference with this tribute show is that The Temptations were about both music and dance so the production must possess the best of both genres.  The touring production which looks and sounds like a true Broadway musical has both mediums gloriously recreated so that you almost think The Temptations have been reborn.  The tour’s superb cast croons and dances these now famous tunes as if they originally conceived them.

There’s not a misstep vocally or in the gymnastic moves in the elaborate production staged impeccably by Des McAnuff and dynamically choreographed by Sergio Trujillo. There may be watchers who think there is too much detail about the group’s creation and its troubled maintenance but even diehard fans will learn new troupe facts.

The only real dud here is ASU Gammage’s usual miserable acoustics which allows little of the dialogue to be clearly understood.  But forget the awful sound problems because the show on stage is dazzling.  It is truly one of the all-time best Broadway tours ever booked into ASU Gammage.  The cast births these complex individuals with consummate elan while swiftly moving scenic elements make you understand why The Temptations remain a top rhythm and blues group.  The show doesn’t ignore the terrible discrimination that plagued this and many other musical ensembles.

It traces the group from its founding by Otis Williams until he is the only remaining original cast member.  Best, the story is told using the Motown catalog including many of The Temptations hits that remain treasured today. There’s no one in the huge ensemble that doesn’t add nostalgic brilliance to the many group participants plus those that influenced and helped them achieve its revered place.

Michael Andreaus makes a memorable Otis as the glue that kept The Temptations together. Melvin Gray, Jr. is a stalwart Al Bryant and Amber Mariah Talley’s Diana Ross reveals the part The Supremes played in making The Temptations.

“Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations” is an entertaining extravaganza stunningly presented in the best Broadway tradition.  It continues through Sunday, November 19.  To order tickets, call the ASU Gammage box office at 480-965-3434 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade: A