Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 31, 2023

Review: The Bushnell, "Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations"

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through June 4, 2023
by Terence LaCasse

Photo by Emilio Madrid
If given choice to spend your last dollar on food or buy a ticket to "Ain’t Too Proud- The Life and Times of the Temptations," spend it on the ticket and feast upon this wonderful production.

Look, I know what you’re thinking. “Another jukebox musical?” I’m right there with you. If I see another plaid jacket or taffeta dress, I might scream. Yet, "Ain’t Too Proud" is a musical tour de force with sleek designs and an emotionally complex amalgam of storylines that shouldn’t be missed.

The musical follows the rise and fall of one of the most successful vocal groups in America, The Temptations. The story is told through the eyes of the group’s founder, Otis Williams, played with fatherly grace, passion, and humility by Michael Andreaus. Harrell Holmes Jr. delivers a soft spoken and effortlessly comedic Melvin “Blue” Franklin that is gilded by the rich tambour of his bass notes. Jalen Harris’ Eddie Kendricks is fun-loving yet combative, and his high notes ring beautifully. Clayton Cornelious portrays Paul Williams as a masterclass in subtlety and love that you can’t help but follow even when he’s standing still. To round out the Temptations is Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin; not only a zenith of showmanship and vocal acuity but a conflicted soul whose past haunts through even the best of times.

The mood of "Ain’t Too Proud" is reminiscent of a documentary and rock concert rolled into one. The sleek scenery uses line and texture to convey place and time with perfectly executed projections that allot for seamless transitions. A special shout-out to the costumes and props teams whose attention to detail supply subtle nuance within every scene that grounds the audience to every era of The Temptations' long career.

is nothing short of electrifying. There are too many brilliant performances to list. The talent, charisma, and stamina of this troupe is second to none. The 2.5 hour marathon of music, dance, and heart-wrenching stories steeped in love, race, family, addiction, aging, and heartache is remarkable. Audience members danced and sang along to the iconic songs. 

Recommendation: give in to temptation as the show only has a one-week run.