‘Ain’t Too Proud’ brings Motown to A-Town

Harrell Holmes Jr., Elijah Ahmad Lewis, Jalen Harris, Marcus Paul James and James T. Lane star as the members of The Temptations in the national tour of ‘Ain’t Too Proud,’ playing at the Fox Theatre next week. // Photo courtesy of Emilio Madrid BRAVE Public Relations

On March 8-13,  the musical “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations” will play at the Fox Theatre, and Broadway in Atlanta is offering discounted college student rush tickets. For the special $30 price, a valid student ID must be presented two hours before the show. 

The captivating musical presents a new perspective on the impressive career of the historic R&B group. 

Based on founding member Otis Williams’s 1988 memoir, the biopic cleverly incorporates The Temptations’ timeless music with the significant moments of their prominence. 

As their popularity blossomed, the group’s unforgettable harmonies and impressive choreography helped them to establish their legacy as one of the most successful acts ever. 

Emerging in the early 1960s, the musical expands on the group’s modest beginnings in Detroit to their development into one of the most influential R&B groups of all time. 

During a defining period of the genre, The Temptations were able to forge an admirable legacy, validated by their substantial number of hits during their career including “My Girl” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”.

The group was a major contributor to the reputation of Motown Records, becoming the label’s first Grammy Award Winners in 1969. 

Despite their success, the musical demonstrates the social limitations that African American artists faced during the civil rights era in pursuit of mainstream notoriety. 

The Temptations’s popularity was contested by the overt racial hostility expressed within America however in addition the musical exhibits that the music at Motown was distinctly curated to prioritize popularity over the political issues of these turbulent times. 

The musical attempts to capture the tension created due to these creative differences as The Temptations contested to express their political activism and Motown founder, Berry Gordy, attempted to maintain the comfort of the label’s white audiences. 

This tension was exemplified in the musical by the group’s irritation with their inability to release the popular 1970 anti-Vietnam War protest song, “War” by Edwin Starr as their own song. 

The Temptations originally had a version of the song recorded before Starr, but the label was hesitant to release the song primarily due to the potential negative influence the song could have on their most popular group. 

Along with their contention over political expression, the musical will also provide behind-the-scenes insight into the internal conflict that the group had to overcome. 

These obstacles can be seen in the individual reputations of many of the group’s most notable members, specifically those associated with their distinguished “Classic 5” lineup. 

This formation was composed of Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and David Ruffin — many of whom concluded their time with the group either in tragedy or conflict. 

Lead singer, David Ruffin, was ousted from the group in 1968 in favor of Dennis Edwards after disagreements over his drug use as well as selfish tendencies. 

Tension between The Temptations and Motown ultimately resulted in Kendrick’s departure from the group to pursue a solo career in 1971. Founding member, Paul Williams, struggled with alcoholism, depression and sickle cell anemia, retiring in 1971 with declining mental and physical health before his
death in 1973. 

From a legacy standpoint, the heights the group achieved together overshadow their personal misfortunes. The “Classic 5” lineup, as well as Dennis Edwards, entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, a year after Williams’ memoir.

The performance schedule for “Ain’t Too Proud” can be found on the Fox Theatre website along with information on the venue’s health and safety measures. Student Rush Tickets are limited to two per student ID and will be subject to availability.