Review | ‘Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations’ at Berkeley Rep

Derrick Baskin, Jeremy Pope, Jared Joseph, Ephraim Sykes and James Harkness. Photo courtesy of Kevin Berne:Berkeley Repertory Theatre

“A review of this show would not be complete without recognition of not only the extremely talented cast, but of the band, directed by Kenny Seymour, that filled the Roda Theatre with what can only be described as true Motown sound. Coupled with a state-of-the-art projection system designed by Peter Nigrini, with sets and lighting by Robert Brill and Howell Binkley respectively, the Berkeley Rep audience is visually, aurally, and emotionally transported through a Ken Burns-like lens from Detroit to all parts the world.”

Read more HERE: https://www.google.com/amp/s/thestagereview.net/2017/09/22/review-aint-too-proud-the-life-and-times-of-the-temptations-berkeley-repertory-theatre/amp/

Not just your imagination: ‘Temptations’ musical rocks

Berkeley Rep’s world premiere musical, which opened Thursday, Sept. 14, under the direction of Des McAnuff, makes songs resounding clarion calls from their opening beats — the teasing jazz piano riff of “I Can’t Get Next To You,” the ache-filled strings soaring over gentle guitar thrums in “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me).” Richly textured, perfectly blended harmonies back lead vocals that somehow combine swaggering showmanship, meticulously honed technique and emotion of almost unbearable intensity. Channeling Eddie Kendricks, actor Jeremy Pope has an otherwordly, buttery falsetto that warbles among notes as if they were playthings. When David Ruffin (Ephraim Sykes) takes the lead on the show’s title track, abasing himself before his love for an imagined woman, he howls as if to implore the grim reaper for a few minutes more to live.

 

Read more HERE: http://m.sfgate.com/performance/article/Not-just-your-imagination-Temptations-12203077.php

 

Why new Temptations play is NOT a ‘jukebox musical’

“People always say I make musicals for people who hate musicals and there is some truth to that.” – Des McAnuff

True indeed!

I never liked musicals. I think way too many of them are corny. I once saw a musical where a singer was at a train station , waiting on her train to come or something. Then all of a sudden, as soon as she drops her suitcase on the floor, she belts out a tune. I busted out laughing! I looked around and realized I was the only one in the theater laughing. Ooops!

I won’t reveal what name of the show but it won a TONY Award for best musical years ago. Ugh.

To just drop a suitcase in a train station and everyone suddenly starts dancing and singing is silly to me. Yes, I know the best musicals know how to weave the song into the dialogue and move the story forward. I think I finally understand it after 17 years in this business. But man, some producers make musicals that are kinda wack…and run for decades.

Jersey Boys? Now THAT was a musical for someone like me. There was an article in the LA Times about how more men went to see that show than many others on Broadway at the time. I feel it is one of the reasons why it became so successful. To get straight men to cough up money and be the person begging their wife or girlfriend to see a broadway musical is quite a challenge.

Producers have attributed the show’s financial longevity to repeat customers and its appeal to men, which is a rarity on Broadway.

“Men tell other men they have to see the play. When does a guy call another guy about a Broadway show?” asked Joseph Grano, a lead producer of the musical and the founder and chief executive of Centurion Holdings, a New York business consulting firm.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-ca-jersey-boys-musical-20140622-story.html

I liked several other musicals. Hamilton I thought was brilliant. I liked The Lion King, Avenue Q, Memphis, Lady Day, Little Shop, Evita (because I subbed on it a lot I guess), The Color Purple, Altar Boyz, Waitress….but there is something about this new show, Ain’t Too Proud, that speaks to me.

I’ve been in and subbed for a few bad shows over the years. I’ve seen others that make me leave scratching my head as to what people see in it. Again, I am not a musical kind of guy, but love to see well made shows. Hopefully you all will see this one. I’d actually pay money to see it if I weren’t in it.

Why new Temptations play is NOT a ‘jukebox musical’

Ain’t too proud to beg? If you just can’t get enough of the legacy of the Temptations, from their velvety smooth sound to their razor-sharp dance moves, better motor on over to Berkeley Rep for the new Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations.”

Steeped in the memories of Otis Williams, the sole surviving band member, this musical spins around a finger-snapping greatest hits catalog that spans generations, from the slick doo-wop harmony of “My Girl” to the pain and rage of “Ball of Confusion” and “Runaway Child, Running Wild.” Coming on the heels of Broadway-bound musicals such as “Roman Holiday,” “Monsoon Wedding” and “Amelie,” the highly-anticipated “Temptations” tuner, which is getting its world premiere through Oct. 8 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, definitely has aspirations to a Broadway run. The musical charts the rise of the iconic Motown group amid the turbulence and chaos of the Civil Rights era.

“For me the Temptations are more than just a band, they are an American institution,” says director Des McAnuff, famed for helming “Jersey Boys” and “Tommy.” “They were at the vanguard, not just musically but also culturally and politically.”

Read more here:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/12/why-new-temptations-play-is-not-a-jukebox-musical/

Living Legends – Otis, Shelly at Ain’t Too Proud

 

Smiles after the first two previews of “Ain’t Too Proud.”

It’s great to have the legendary Otis Williams and longtime Temptations manager (since the 60’s) Shelly Berger watching a musical recreation of their life.

Otis is the man in the cool ass black and white jacket. Shelly is the older gentleman in the middle who is crouching down.

It’s great to hear their stories of the 60’s and 70’s. I asked Shelly about how they got the opportunity to work with Rick James in the early 80’s. I loved that song “Standing On The Top” by Rick.

He told me that Rick James idolized the Temps from when he was a kid and if there was any way he could have them sing on his record, it would be an honor.

You can hear Rick yell out “Temptations SING'” on a few songs on his classic releases from the early 80’s.

The Temps influenced so many people across all kinds of groups over the years. Their music stands the test of time.

This show hopefully will stand the test of time too. It’s sooooo good.

Ain’t Too Proud

I just started working on a really good new show. It’s called –  “Ain’t Too Proud” —The Temptations Musical. It is penned by Dominique Morisseau and directed by Des McAnuff. The show features music and lyrics from the Motown catalog with orchestrations by Harold Wheeler.

Expect to hear such hits as “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Poppa Was a Rolling Stone,” as Morisseau charts the rise of The Temptations from the streets of Detroit to “the greatest R&B group of all time.” The creative team includes Olivier Award-winning choreographer Sergio Trujillo and musical director-supervisor-arranger Kenny Seymour.

Rehearsals begin in July in New York City and performances begin in August at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in California.

The production will be heading to Broadway in the spring of 2018.

I’m really looking forward to it.

New Musical

One of the best things about my job is the creative process.
Watching people create new songs, invent new choreography, direct lighting, etc…it’s fascinating.
I just started working on a new project. The show is being produced in conjunction with the Berkeley Rep Theater and we are rehearsing here at Second Stage in Times Square for the next few weeks.

Right now, I’m watching a master choreographer create something pretty amazing.
We’ll see what happens. Hopefully it will turn out to be a new musical that runs for many years.