by Beki Pineda

AIN’T TOO PROUD – THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS – Music from the Legendary Motown Catalog; Book by Dominique Morisseau (Based on the book by Otis Williams – “The Temptations”) Directed by Des McAnuff. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Broadway Division (the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis, Denver) through November 6. Tickets available at 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org.

Frenetic! In a word, the Temptations – the group and the show – is frenetic. Defined as “fast and energetic, “hyperactive” (on stage) and turbulent (off stage).  The group went through numerous names before settling on Temptations at Barry Gordy’s suggestion. After years of playing in bars and small clubs in various groupings of singers, the original five members of the group finally came together in 1961 as two groups combined. It was upward and onward from then on. Known for their distinctive dance moves, vocal stylings and well-dressed appearance, the group rose to success quickly. The path to notoriety, fame, a revolving door of group members and the darker side of life in the spotlight emerged. Divorce, disagreements based on ego and money matters, and drugs all contributed to the  turn-over of group members. Until finally only Otis Williams (at 80 years old)  remains alive and still occasionally performing to mentor the younger newer members of the current Temptations.

The actors playing these talented singer/dancers were amazing in their mimicry of the vocal memories and synchronized dancing of the original group. The cast of nineteen men and three women weave between roles interchangeably to tell the story of this powerful group who made such an impact on the Motown sound and the American music scene from the 70’s forward. They were the first Motown group to win a Grammy ( in 1969 for “Cloud Nine.”) Inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, their influence on musical styling is enjoyed still today. The enthusiastic crowd opening night at the Buell can testify to that as they repeatedly broke out in applause at the introduction of each new song. Who can forget “My Girl,” “Once in my Life,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, ” “Just My Imagination,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and all of the other hit songs they made popular. Anyone who has ever taken a Jazzercise class knows “Shout” intimately.

If you are from this era or know this music well, you will enjoy this evening of memories and of getting to know their impressive history and back stories.

A WOW factor of 9!!

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