top of page

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

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

What can I say! A wonderful musical and historical journey through the lives and times of one of the greatest RNB groups ever. From the streets of Detroit, Motown to theatres across the UK and USA, we get to take a trip down memory lane with the story of the iconic group The Temptations. Billboard magazine ranked The Temptations number 1 in their list of the Greatest R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of All Time, and in November of 2019 named them one of The 125 Greatest of All Time Artists.

"The Temptations are an American vocal group from Detroit, Michigan, who released a series of successful singles and albums with Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s. The group's work with producer Norman Whitfield, beginning with the Top 10 hit single "Cloud Nine" in October 1968, pioneered psychedelic soul, and was significant in the evolution of R&B and soul music.[1] The band members are known for their choreography, distinct harmonies, and dress style. Having sold tens of millions of albums, the Temptations are among the most successful groups in popular music." Wikiepdia

The original group members were:

  • Main lead singer (e.g., David Ruffin)

  • Secondary lead/baritone singer (e.g., Paul Williams)

  • First tenor lead singer (e.g., Eddie Kendricks)

  • Bass lead singer (e.g., Melvin Franklin)

  • Background second tenor and baritone w/ occasional lead (since 1961 Otis Williams has always held and continues to hold this role)

The first 30 minutes were a little slow, lacking that certain va va vroom reminiscent of the energy of a group such as The Temptations. However, as the performance evolved, I found myself subtly and swiftly caught up in the story of their lives which was intricate and often challenging. However, I felt a sense of awe at being privy to their journey, and came away inspired, because the vision Otis Williams held for the group, in spite of all the surmountable challenges, grew the group into the phenomena they still are today. To me the journey of The Temptations epitomized the words HOPE, TENACITY, PERSEVERANCE and SUCCESS.

The Temptations were a group whose many challenges really honed and formed what The group eventually became. Even though many died because of their demons and lifestyle. From management issues to feeling overshadowed by other groups especially other major players such as The Supremes, to their own group and individual dynamics i.e drink and drugs, member rivalry, competition, racism, emotional demons, relationships, etc. Otis Williams held the group together, because of his steadfast vision and it was clear he felt the group's success in his soul. So to even comprehend there have been 27 Temptations to-date and that the group was still going strong with Otis Williams, founder and last surviving original member of the Motown vocal group, a group in which he continues to perform and which he also owns the rights to the Temptations name is a phenomenon in itself.

Taking that trip down memory lane, last week, watching the show was poignant for many. From when the group were birthed in 1961 when Otis brought the band together, The Temptations have been wooing audiences. The audience at The Prince Edward Theatre came alive, nodding to hits such as The Way you Do the Things You Do, Gloria, My Girl, Papa was a Rollin Stone' and to watch the smooth moves which were synonymous of groups of that time. Sharp suits, smooth moves and great music about love. During the interval of 'Ain't too Proud to Beg' there was alot of excitement and reminiscing about the group, that era, the dances moves with many sharing how the group had impacted and influenced their lives growing up. I even met a two ladies who had traveled from the USA to see the play and who stated they knew them. People still have that awe for them.

The cast all incredible singers and dancers, uniquely characterized their parts. Each Temptation bought something unique into the melting pot, despite the rifts and challenges. David Ruffin's character played by Tosh Wanogho-Maud really stood out. His incredible vocal talent, his dance moves and theatrics, his arrogance 'I'm the one sellin' the records. They're comin' to see me. ...', his demons, were captured so well by Tosh.

Then there was Paul Williams, played by Kyle Cox who who suffered from sickle-cell, which played with his health and even though married had an affair with the hairstylist for the Supremes, coupled with life on the road, he turned to alcohol and eventually committed suicide. Noted for being one of the founding members and original lead singers of the group, Paul also felt over-looked and Otis Williams recounted, "So to see a guy come from drinking milk to drinking, sometimes, two to three fifths of Courvoisier a day—that was kind of hard to take."

Eddie Kendricks, was co-founder of The Temptations was played by Mitchell Zhangazh. Eddie was a former lead singer of the Temptations, died of lung cancer in 1992. Melvin Franklin, played by Cameron Bernard Jones, died at the age of 53 he was the baritone voice of the Temps and was ill the last few years of his life. He suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, amongst other things. Melvin was best friends with Otis Williams and they were the only two members of the most famous line-up of the Temps remaining in the group. Melvin Franklin was loved by Temps fans and never failed to get the crowd on its feet during his solo spotlight of "Old Man River." He was also a favorite among the Motown gang, who awarded him with the Motown Spirit Award, which honored a person who embodied what the label was all about. Otis was played by Sifiso Mazibuko.

The lives of the Temptations offered us insight into the mix mash of human emotions and what success often looked like, and yet on the other side of the rainbow was the magic they created, maybe alot of that magic came out of their deep pain, however, it created a group that so well loved, respected and revered. They all had their demons to deal with and yet the one thing that really made sense to them all, the one thing that kept hope and some sort of fire burning in their hearts and aligned them to some sort of self-identity was the music.

AIN’T TOO PROUD stars Cameron Bernard Jones as Melvin Franklin, Kyle Cox as Paul Williams, Sifiso Mazibuko as Otis Williams, Tosh Wanogho-Maud as David Ruffin and Mitchell Zhangazha as Eddie Kendricks. The cast is completed by Evonnee Bentley-Holder, Natalia Brown, Ryan Carter, Hannah Fairclough, Christopher Gopaul, Daniel Haswell, Naomi Katiyo, Akmed Junior Khemalai, Holly Liburd, Darnell Mathew-James, Simeon Montague, Posi Morakinyo, Sadie-Jean Shirley, Michael James Stewart, Toyan Thomas-Browne, Dylan Turner and Kevin Yates.


Show booking until: 1st October 2023

AIN’T TOO PROUD The Life and Times of The Temptations at the Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street, London, W1D.

Tickets can be purchased from:

42 views0 comments


bottom of page