The cast of Ain’t Too Proud To Beg. Photo: Broadway in Louisville

Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations

Book by Dominique Morisseau
Choreographed by Sergio Trijullio
Directed by Des McAnuff

A review by Brian Kennedy

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Brian Kennedy. All rights reserved.

There’s no ball of confusion here. Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, now at Kentucky Center, is a wonderfully energetic and entertaining show.

Ain’t Too Proud is based on “The Temptations”, written by original member Otis Williams with Pamela Romanowski. The show, adapted by award winning playwright Dominique Morisseau and directed by Des McAnuff, does a good job describing each of the original Temptations, including Williams (Michael Andreaus), Paul Williams (E. Clayton Cornelious), Melvin Franklin (Harrell Holmes Jr.), Eddie Kendricks (Jalen Harris), and David Ruffin (Elijah Ahmad Lewis).

As a group, these four could easily pass for the real deal. The dancing is energetic and on point (kudos to Sergio Trujillo for the choreography). The three piece suits are stylish and perfect for the late 60s time period. The vocals, for the most part, are amazing, and the songs, drawn from The Temptations’ Motown catalog, are, of course, infectious. Audience members were clapping and singing along with most of the biggest hits, especially “Shout!” and “My Girl”. 

Each member had a moment somewhere in the show to shine on their own, and each did well, especially Harris giving Kendricks a passionate, soulful vocal during “Just My Imagination”. Meanwhile, Holmes gave Franklin a solid, powerful bass voice that showed up in several songs. 

Lewis, as the lead singer Ruffin, had to be the best performer of the group, and he delivered. Lewis gave Ruffin an incredible amount of energy, zestfully hitting his dance moves, and passionately singing all of his leads. At times, he gave a little too much, running out of breath during the latter parts of “Get Ready”.

Meanwhile, Andreaus, as Otis, does a great job acting not only as a narrator for the audience but as a big brother to the rest of the group. Andreaus appropriately keeps Otis mostly level-headed as the leader, bonding with the rest of The Temptations, showing concern when needed, leading them through the work that is needed, and remaining the most level-headed even as success, and the problems that come with it, overtake them. 

Those problems include vices and egos. Ruffin had the most difficulty with both, and Lewis showcased them without reservation. Also, Andreaus effectively balanced the care for his estranged wife and kid while remaining steadfast in his commitment to life on the road. 

On top of that, having had hits in the late 60s through early 70s, The Temptations also dealt with racism, especially Dr. Martin Luther King’s death, and the Vietnam War. All group members expressed these struggles with the right amount of frustration, anger, and sadness. 

Although The Temptations were the focus of the show, other characters made their impact known. Shayla Brielle G. gave Mama Rose a stern, matter-of-fact attitude that stood as a hilarious counterpoint to Otis early in the show. Also, whether intentional or not, Omar Madden gave Smokey Robinson a memorable and extremely high voice that may have been a note or two above Smokey’s actual voice. 

PNC Broadway in Louisville has a highly entertaining, energetic show in Ain’t Too Proud. See it while it’s in town at The Kentucky Center.

Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations

April 11 – 16, 2023

Broadway in Louisville
The Kentucky Center 
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202

For Tickets

Brian Kennedy is a nearly life-long Louisville resident who has performed in plays since 2004. He also wrote extensively about the Louisville theatre scene for and from 2009-2015. Currently, he maintains the theatre blog LouBriantheater. When not involved in the theatre scene, he is an avid runner, participating in 5Ks throughout the state and in southern Indiana.