“Ain’t Too Proud ” is not just a Broadway musical; it’s a rich historical study and exploration of human behaviour, set to what might be the world’s finest soundtrack.
Growing up, my parents had the sounds of Motown, intermingling with the Beatles, big band music, rock n’ roll, and country, always playing in the background which helped me craft my own personal multi-genre and decades-spanning life soundtrack. But music from Motown, in particular, has always reached far into my soul, bringing my emotions along for the ride with every harmony. So when the opportunity to catch Ain’t Too Proud from Broadway Across Canada with my parents presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, the music of The Temptations was a gift my parents gave to me early on in life, the least I could do was return the favour.
The Timeless Appeal of The Temptations
Discussing “Ain’t Too Proud” prior to attending the show, I was taken aback to learn that mine and my boyfriend’s Gen Z kids were not as familiar with The Temptations as I would have hoped. They had heard the music to be sure in TV shows and movies over the years, but the names and faces went unrecognized. This, my friends, is a travesty. How is it that a band that played such a pivotal role in the evolution of music as we know it today, and revered for its distinctive harmonies, legendary choreography, and flashy suits is not permanently etched into the brains my kids? Clearly, I have failed as a mother. So please permit me to make this right.
What is ‘Ain’t Too Proud’ About?
“Ain’t Too Proud” eloquently traces The Temptations’ evolution from their early days as The Elgins to their transformation into a musical powerhouse. It highlights the constants like Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin, and the remarkable addition of 27 different singers over the years, illustrating the band’s adaptability and resilience. This dynamic journey, depicted in the show, leads to an inspiring realization: The Temptations are not just a band locked in history – they are still touring today, their music continuing to resonate across generations.
From the first act, the audience is pulled along in a musical journey that celebrates the extraordinary path of The Temptations against the backdrop of a tumultuous America grappling with civil unrest. Despite being a historical telling, it’s hard not to note how tragically, the more things change the more they stay the same.
The story of Ain’t Too Proud; The Life and Time of The Temptations isn’t just about the highs of chart-topping hits and groundbreaking performances; it’s equally about the lows, the internal struggles, and external pressures that tested their bond. The show captures the essence of a group that wasn’t just making music but was part of a larger movement, their songs becoming anthems in a time of change.
In “Ain’t Too Proud,” you’ll find the heartbeats of the men behind the music; an emotional ride that celebrates their musical genius while acknowledging their human vulnerabilities. This musical ensures that the legacy of The Temptations, with their distinctive harmonies and electrifying stage presence, remains a vibrant part of our cultural memory. While a trip down memory lane for some of is, Ain’t Too Proud is also a history lesson that will resonate with the TikTok generation.
Don’t Nothin’ Rewind But a Song
For any play to be truly successful though, it must allow the audience to see themselves on the stage. “Ain’t Too Proud” resonates deeply with audiences because it transforms The Temptations’ soundtrack into our own. The musical becomes a mirror reflecting our lives, where themes of love, loss, triumph, and adversity are universally relatable.
Paul Williams’s poignant line, “you could be on top of the world and still feel beneath it,” brought an immediate lump to my throat. Who amongst us doesn’t know this feeling intimately? Ain’t Too Proud masterfully intertwines The Temptations iconic songs and personal struggles with the audience’s own experiences, making it a profound, shared journey of human emotion. See it, take your parents and your kids. Everyone’s personal soundtrack of their life should include The Temptations.
Thank you to Broadway Across Canada for inviting me to the opening night of The Temptations. While my seats were comped, my parents were not. Like last year’s Come From Away, it was the perfect gift to give. All opinions expressed are mine. Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations is playing at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre until December 31st. Find other cities and tour dates here.