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.”

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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.


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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.

A New Temptations Musical

It looks like I’ll be working on a new musical next month. The show is packed with some serious Broadway heavy hitters. I have a feeling that it will be pretty good.

I can’t wait to get in on the ground floor of a new show. I love the process:


Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff, who staged the Broadway hit Jersey Boys, is at work on a new musical about another all-male music group.

According to an Equity casting notice, McAnuff is set to direct a new musical billed as The Detroit Project, which lists Temptations members Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, Elbridge “Al” Bryant, and David Ruffin (who later replaced Bryant) among its cast of characters.

The Motown Records music group recorded such hits as “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.”

Tony Award nominee Sergio Trujillo, another Jersey Boys creative team member, is attached to choreograph the show, with Kenny Seymour on board as music director.

Berkeley Repertory Theatre is presenting the production that will have a February 6-March 16, 2017, workshop in New York City.