Temptations Musical 'Ain't Too Proud' Rocks the Ahmanson

Ain't Too Proud
Courtesy of Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre

From left: Ephraim Sykes (David Ruffin), Jeremy Pope (Eddie Kendricks), James Harkness (Paul Williams), Derrick Baskin (Otis Williams), and Jared Joseph (Melvin Franklin) in the world premiere of 'Ain’t Too Proud'—The Life and Times of The Temptations at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Motown took over Hollywood with the premiere of Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations at the Ahmanson Theater.   

Friday evening (Aug. 24) at the Ahmanson Theater, a fired up audience was blown away by the musical, which tells the story of the Temptations, one of the greatest R&B groups of all time.   

Featuring performances of their all-time classic hits like “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” the opening night audience for Ain’t Too Proud:The Life and Times of The Temptations — which included John Legend, Billy Crystal, Berry Gordy and the founding member of the Temptations, Otis Smith — was not left disappointed by the recreation of the legendary music group's life story.   

Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, the birthplace of some of the greatest acts in pop music history, told THR what made the Temptations such a phenomenal group.      

“The Temptations were so important, they were so original and they came up with so many of their own unique things, like the dance steps,” he said before entering the theater. “All of the singers in the Temptations were leads and you never have that in any other group. All of them could lead and be stars and they are and they were, so it's great.”

There was an electricity running through the opening night audience before the show started.

A Temptations cover group entertained the crowd outside the theater, and Young Sheldon star Iain Armitage accompanied them with a spontaneous tap dance performance.

Mary Wilson, another Motown legend, who was an original member of the Supremes, was also in attendance and she spoke to the legacy of the Temptations that went far beyond their musical abilities.

“We went through a lot back in the '60s. Black people were not really, black wasn’t beautiful yet. But I think that the Temptations, the Supremes, a lot of the Motown acts we were the ones that helped black become beautiful so I’m very proud of Otis and his career.”

Needless to say, the singing and performances were incredible, but the audience was also blown away by the powerful dancing.

Derrick Baskin gave a powerful performance as Otis Smith, and served as the show’s emotional center, and Ephraim Sykes blew the audience away with his incredible dance moves and silky smooth vocals in his performance as the supremely talented and tragic David Ruffin.

Suits star Dule Hill told THR how the band impacted his life as one of the first black groups to become cross-over stars in all of America.

“As an artist in this industry, as a black artist in this industry, they are the trailblazers. They are groundbreakers and they allowed me to do what I do.”

The performance ended with a nearly 10-minute standing ovation which only culminated when the show’s star Derrick Baskin turned the spotlight onto some of the Motown luminaries in the audience, including Gordy, Wilson and Smith.

The show will run at the Ahmanson until Sept. 30, before it eventually migrates to Broadway, where it will likely be one of the hottest theater tickets of the year.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.


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