Outside of the Imperial Theatre was a buzz that only a premiere of a new production on Broadway can provide. Following acclaimed, sold-out engagements in Washington, Los Angeles and Toronto, the electrifying musical, “Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations,” set up shop where it’s supposed to be: The Great White Way. Bow Legged Lou of the multi-platinum production team/singing group Full Force was in the place to be and wanted it to be known that he had an unwavering love for The Temptations, all 20 some odd members. Wow! Were there that many? A roll call is in order for the vocalists that can say they were in that special fraternity. Dennis Edwards, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Ron Tyson, Ricky Owens, Richard Street, Damon Harris, Glenn Leonard, Louis Price, Theo People, Ray Davis, Harry McGilberry, Barrington “Bo” Henderson, G.C Cameron, Joe Herdon, Bruce Williamson, Terry Weeks, Larry Braggs and Willie Green. Acknowledgement of these names are in order because while in theory the group was greater then the sum of its parts, they have all in their way contributed to the long-standing legacy of the band. In fact, some of the best songs they’ve ever recorded (think “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “Silent Night,” “Treat Her Like a Lady” and “Stay”) can be attributed to the talents, both collective and individual, in this pool. More importantly, all these gentlemen at one point shared the recording booth and international stages with the original link and founder of the unit, Otis Williams. For 50-plus years Williams was the irrefutable leader of the band and along with Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendrick, David Ruffin and Paul Williams have been defined as the optimal version of what has been widely held as THE quintessential singing group in the history of the music industry. Between the years 1964 and 1968 they set the bar on not only how groups sounded but also looked. Paul Anthony of Full Force shared the influence of The Temptations, relating, “In our household singing wasn’t an option, and The Temptations were our vocal architects so they affected us profoundly. Our father had us study them so we can learn different levels of harmony and cohesion.” The Devastating Tito of the legendary hip-hop group the Fearless Four once revealed, “We were listening to ‘I Can’t Get Next to You.’ Those lyrics ‘I can build a castle with a single grain of sand, I can make a ship sail on dry land’ gave us a concept that we freaked on our first single, ‘It’s Magic.’” That far reaching affect will get an opportunity to expand and garner yet another generation.
Although not officially members of The Temptations, the group of brothers cast in the Broadway production are at the least first cousins to the group. For at least six times a week we’ll have an opportunity to see the legacy interpreted and embodied by Derrick Baskin, James Harkness, Jawan M. Jackson, Jeremy Pope, Ephraim Sykes, Jarvis B Manning Jr., Saint Aubyn, E. Clayton Cornelious and Christian Thompson.
More on the show coming soon. Directly from the source, author/playwright Domique Morisseau gave us some time and some insight. Stay tuned. Til then, enjoy the night life.