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In what is being billed as a pre-Broadway engagement, Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations will play a five-week run early next summer at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, with Los Angeles and Toronto bookings to follow.
The bio-musical charts the rise of the Motown male-vocal group from the streets of Detroit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, achieving crossover success in the 1960s and ‘70s with their smooth harmonies and signature dance moves on classic R&B and soul tracks including “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”
Set against the backdrop of the civil unrest dividing America, the show’s book was written by Detroit-born playwright Dominique Morisseau, whose acclaimed works for the stage include Skeleton Crew and Pipeline. Additionally, she is a writer on Showtime’s Shameless.
Directed by Des McAnuff and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, who previously collaborated on the long-running smash Jersey Boys, Ain’t Too Proud drew strong reviews in its world-premiere engagement at Berkeley Repertory Theatre this fall, becoming the highest-grossing production in the venue’s nearly-50-year history.
While no Broadway theater or dates have been locked, producers Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman (Spring Awakening, American Idiot) said in interviews during the Berkeley run that their plan was to find a major venue for summer or early fall 2018, as a stepping stone to New York. That goal remains in place despite the addition of two additional tryout stops.
The Kennedy Center engagement will play June 19-July 22 in the Eisenhower Theater, with casting to be announced. The production then jumps to Los Angeles, running Aug. 21-Sept. 30 at the Ahmanson Theatre; and from there to Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre, playing Oct. 10-Nov. 17.
Ain’t Too Proud is one of a handful of jukebox bio-musicals currently in the works, based around the hits of popular music artists. Others include Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, which recently premiered at La Jolla Playhouse, also directed by McAnuff; Tina: The Musical, based on the life of Tina Turner, bowing in London’s West End in March; and The Cher Show, a title that requires no explanation, eyeing a Broadway debut next fall. The stage division of Universal also recently announced development of an untitled Bee Gees biographical musical.
Those shows follow on the heels of Jersey Boys, based on the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, which ran just over 11 years on Broadway, grossing $558.4 million; and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, now entering its fifth year on Broadway, with cumulative box office to date of $202.4 million.
Updated Feb. 8 with details of Los Angeles and Toronto engagements.
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