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Friday evening at the Ahmanson Theater, a fired-up audience was blown away by Ain’t Too Proud, the new musical that tells the story of The Temptations, one of the greatest R&B groups of all time.
The opening-night audience included John Legend, Billy Crystal, Berry Gordy and Temptations founding member Otis Williams. The show features performances of the legendary vocal group’s all-time classic hits like “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” and it’s safe to say the crowd was not left disappointed by the recreation of their life story.
Motown Records founder Gordy, whose label was the birthplace of some of the most enduring acts in pop music history, told The Hollywood Reporter 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 even 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.
Original Supremes member Mary Wilson, another Motown legend, also was in attendance; she spoke to the legacy of The Temptations that went far beyond their musical abilities.
“We went through a lot back in the ’60s,” Wilson told THR. “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 in the production are outstanding, but the audience also applauded the powerful dancing.
Derrick Baskin stars as Otis Williams and serves as the musical’s emotional center, while Ephraim Sykes shows his incredible dance moves and silky-smooth vocals 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 crossover 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,” said the actor.
The performance ended with a nearly 10-minute standing ovation, which only culminated when Baskin turned the spotlight onto some of the Motown luminaries in the audience, including Gordy, Wilson and Williams himself.
The show will run at the Ahmanson through Sept. 30, before it eventually migrates next spring to Broadway, where it will likely be one of the hottest theater tickets of the season.
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