By Jhoana T. Merino-Martinez
As one of the university’s many perks, FDU students were offered discount tickets to the Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud” on Oct. 23.
Based on the book “The Temptations,” by Otis Williams. The musical follows the birth and hardships of the famous R&B vocal group from the perspective of the group’s founder, who’s also the surviving member of the band. Williams is played by Tony Award-nominated Derrick Baskin, who has appeared in various Broadway shows, including 2014’s “Annie,” and in films.
The script captured the time and place when The Temptations began, in 1960s Detroit. The actors stayed true to the accents and the lingo of the time throughout the entire musical.
The Temptations were known for their matching outfits, but the musical makes each member easily identifiable individually for the audience. The point was to show how all of the members were unique. So while they were in a synchronized group, each of the band members stood out on his own.
The play tackled tough topics such as jealousy, domestic abuse, alienation, racism, adultery, and even alcohol and drug abuse.
While it is easy to point out conflicting behavior to the audience, the musical instead lets the audience make its own interpretation and conclusion about each of the band members.
Another theme the musical tackles is the concept of time. As the musical went on, the effects of aging were subtle and brutally clear, especially when dealing with loss. Sufficient time was invested in the latter stage of the play for the audience to let the characters’ mortality sink in, without them feeling like it was dragged out for the sake of sucking emotion.
The time lapse in the beginning of the play, however, was a bit confusing.
Starting off with a brief runthrough of Williams’ childhood in Detroit, it was hard to comprehend where Otis-the-kid started and Otis-the-adult ended.
The beginning seemed rushed, yet the musical makes up for it later by devoting time to elaborate on themes and learning curves crucial to the plot.
And who can forget the music?
Taking advantage of its unforgettable hits, the musical builds the plot around the tone of the beats. From “My Girl” to “Just My Imagination,” the untampered music is vital to the soul of the musical accompanied by excellent choreography, winning the Tony Award for Best Choreography.
Though the musical felt modern, it knew to keep it relevant to its time period. One of its most creative feats was addressing the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968.
While singing “I Wish It Would Rain,’’ the group expressed the despair of the time, despite arguments that surfaced beforehand. The loss of the civil-rights leader sent a ripple wave of hopelessness throughout the African-American community and beyond.
The Broadway hit “Ain’t Too Proud” made effective use of its stage resources, while keeping it simple with background dancers. The musical told its story with natural human dialogue without many (unnecessary) visual gimmicks, making it a brilliant Tony Award-winning masterpiece for critics and die-hard fans alike.
Via Broadway Direct
The musical “Ain’t Too Proud” chronicles how the R&B band made a splash in the ‘60s.