Native Texan made Motown history

By Shari Goldstein Stern

There was palpable energy in the air at last Wednesday night’s production of Broadway Dallas’ “Ain’t Too Proud.” Entering the Music Hall at Fair Park, Baby Boomers relived their cherished ’60s and ’70s as they rocked their own versions of the Temptations Walk across the parking lot and through the lobby. All generations joined in, anticipating the burst of excitement through the double doors, where Boomers full-out danced their hearts out down the aisles. With the trademark harmony and unique choreography, all you needed was a glimpse of the smart wardrobe to know you were in the right place. 

Otis Williams is the founder and last living artist of The Temptations. Today he is 81 years old.
Photo courtesy of Texarkana Magazine

Broadway Dallas presents “Ain’t Too Proud: the Life and Times of The Temptations” at the Music Hall at Fair Park through Sept. 18.

When Marcus Paul James as Otis Williams entered stage left, the theater came alive with adoring Temptations fans on their feet. Even latecomers rocked to the music on the lobby’s big screen TV, where they enjoyed the first few minutes’ lock out. Oh, so embarrassing, but sharing it with other loyal locked-out fans was divine.

A Texarkana, Texas teenager, Williams moved to Detroit, home of Motown Music, to be with his mother. By 1958, he was the leader of a vocal group named Otis Williams and the Siberians. Throughout the next few years, that group morphed into about a dozen other names. New members from other bands joined, as Temptations left to join other groups or to do their own thing. That attrition was the circle of life for The Temptations, founded by Williams, still performing in 2022. Iconic music producer Berry Gordy signed Temptations founder Williams, along with Paul Williams and some of the original Temptations, to the Motown label in March 1961. Playing Gordy in “Ain’t Too Proud,” Michael Andreaus is all business. Lawrence Dandridge as the brilliant musician who wrote some of The Temptations’ songs, Smokey Robinson, was a natural for the role.

Band members would come, make a name for themselves and their unique talents, and go, but the signature choreography, inventive harmonies and sharp, memorable wardrobe would just get better throughout the band’s career. Having sold tens of millions of albums, the Temptations are among the most successful groups in popular music. 

The National Touring Company of “Ain’t Too Proud.”
Photo by Emilio Madrid

At 81 years young, Williams remains the oldest living Temptation. In 2021, he made a surprise, cameo appearance at the opening of “Ain’t Too Proud” in Motown’s home, Detroit.

“Ain’t Too Proud: the Life and Times of the Temptations” includes some of the artists’ greatest, many award-winning hits, like “My Girl” (1964); “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” (1966); “I Wish it would Rain” (1967); and “Cloud Nine” (1968). The audience roared to “I Can’t Get Next to You” (1969); and “Ball of Confusion” (“That’s What the World Is Today”) (1970).

Boomers were on their feet for “Just My Imagination (Running away with me);” “Shout;” “Since I Lost my Baby;” and “If You Don’t Know Me by Now.”

With Amber Mariah Talley as Diana Ross, Shayla Brielle G. as Florence Ballard and Traci Elaine Lee as Mary Wilson, the Supremes had a few numbers including their familiar, “You Can’t Hurry Love.” The women were exquisite in their brightly-colored, hour-glass costumes adorned with sequins and silk, and their movements and vocals gave the originals a run for their money.

The anticipated final number did not disappoint, with almost two dozen Temptations from across the years looking sharp in their iconic line singing a medley of Temptations favorites. “I know you wanna’ leave me, but I refuse to let you go. If I have to beg and plead for your sympathy, I don’t mind coz’ you mean that much to me. Ain’t too proud to beg, sweet darlin’ — Please don’t leave me girl, don’t you go. Ain’t too proud to plead, baby, baby — Please don’t leave me, girl, don’t you go.”        

The morning of September 13, supporters including T.D. Jakes Foundation, and the Dallas Mavericks sponsored up to 3,400 students and teachers from all 25 Dallas Independent School District (DISD) high schools to attend a dedicated performance of the national touring production of “Ain’t Too Proud: the Life and Times of The Temptations.” The event was included as a component of the district-wide STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) program themed around Broadway musicals and non-performance career preparation in the arts field.

The program is one part of a growing partnership between Broadway Dallas and DISD, whose mission is to provide students access to “the spirit of Broadway” through a variety of programs and initiatives. 

“Ain’t Too Proud” will continue its run through Sept. 18. For information, visit