Temptations' 'Ain't Too Proud' musical finally makes its way home as Detroit run begins

·3 min read
Members of the "Ain't Too Proud" cast are pictured in this promotional photo.
Members of the "Ain't Too Proud" cast are pictured in this promotional photo.

The Temptations' stage musical, said Detroit-born playwright Dominique Morisseau, isn’t simply about one of the most fabled groups in R&B and popular music.

It’s also "a tribute to this city," she said.

“Detroit feels special ownership of the Temptations,” said Morisseau, who landed a Tony nomination for her Tempts script.

So “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” which makes its long-awaited Motor City debut this week at the Detroit Opera House, is more than just another Broadway tour dropping into town.

Announced to big fanfare more than 2½ years ago, “Ain’t Too Proud” will run Tuesday through Aug. 28. The musical was originally scheduled for summer 2020 at the Fisher Theatre before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted plans.

Based on Otis Williams’ 1988 memoir, the show portrays the rise of the iconic Motown group, with Williams, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin and Paul Williams blossoming from Detroit unknowns into global stars — the singing, the suits, the stylish moves.

“Ain’t Too Proud” was one of the most successful and well-received jukebox musicals to play Broadway in recent years, grossing $84 million and racking up 11 Tony nominations, including a win for best choreography. Morisseau, a University of Michigan grad previously known for her three-play cycle “The Detroit Project,” got a Tony nomination for best book of a musical.

The "Ain't Too Proud" Broadway run wrapped up in January, a month after the show’s touring company hit the road in late 2021 in North Carolina.

The tour had been set to launch at the Fisher in July 2020 — a big, fitting Temptations kickoff in Detroit — but the play's routing was revised after the pandemic shutdown.

Members of the "Ain't Too Proud" Broadway cast are pictured in this promotional photo.
Members of the "Ain't Too Proud" Broadway cast are pictured in this promotional photo.

The upcoming three-week Detroit Opera House run will feature some hometown festivities, including a red-carpet splash Wednesday with Otis Williams and other VIPs.

“Ain’t Too Proud” attendees on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be greeted by bands and choirs as part of a Motor City Nightsseries at the Madison Street venue.

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And for aspiring stage performers, there’s a shot at a big break: The tour is holding an open casting call Wednesday at the Motown Museum, seeking “black male and female identifying actors/singers/dancers” in their 20s and 30s. Potential roles include the five Temptations, along with the characters of Diana Ross, Berry Gordy and others.

Auditionees can provide sheet music accompaniment or an instrumental track, or they can sing solo. Sign-ups will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Motown Museum, 2648 W. Grand Blvd.

The Detroit premiere of “Ain’t Too Proud” comes amid a Temptations 60th anniversary campaign that has included a new album ("Temptations 60") and a group lineup change, with Detroit-born Jawan Jackson — who played Melvin Franklin in the Broadway musical — formally joining the real Tempts.

The musical's bow at the Opera House also happens to arrive as part of the 60th anniversary season for the Broadway in Detroit series.

'Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations'

Tuesday through Aug. 28 (including matinee shows on weekends)

Detroit Opera House

1526 Broadway, Detroit

$35 and up

ticketmaster.com or the box office

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 'Ain't Too Proud' musical gears up for Detroit debut this week