Inside the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) this Wednesday awaited a trio from Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations, a show that embodies the theater's very essence: vibrant, dynamic, and utterly captivating. Jalen Harris, who lights up the stage as Eddie Kendricks, is a versatile talent who first turned heads on American Idol Season 10. Alongside him is Harrell Holmes, Jr., a spirited performer polished at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, who takes on the role of Melvin Franklin for his tour debut. Completing the trio is Elijah Ahmad Lewis, a multi-award-winning artist, who performs as David Ruffin.
Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations is a triumphant celebration of rhythm and soul. The musical maps out the journey of The Temptations, from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It uncovers the heartaches, triumphs, and charisma that catapulted the group of five to stardom. Intertwining themes of brotherhood, family, loyalty, and betrayal, the narrative unfolds through a series of vibrant, chart-topping hit performances such as “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”
We chatted with these dynamic cast members about their impressions of their return visit to Providence, after the tour came through our city previously, and what it means to them to bring big-name shows to the local arts community.
How does it feel being back in Providence?
Lewis: It is kind of surreal, but it's great. It's so great to be back. Last night we could tell that some of the audience have been here before, and they're coming back for a second time, so it's a great time.
Holmes: I would say the first time we were here, people didn't really know what to expect with this show. So they were very, I would say a little more reserved. But just last night they already knew. So it was like the moment the lights went up, it was like, oh yeah, it's go time. They just really embraced us and we could tell they're really just excited about this week and ready to see us perform.
Harris: I feel last night was one of the coolest times because there were definitely people in the audience who had seen the show before. This is my third performance in this city; my debut was with The Lion King. This city is fortunate to host many of the grand, well-known Broadway productions.
How do you see Broadway tours contributing to the local arts community?
Lewis: Broadway has such a vast catalog of shows that usually would be in one central location. So now, being able to bring this story here, since not everyone can get to New York – by bringing these productions to different locations, we're able to reach audiences who might otherwise never experience a Broadway show. This accessibility not only broadens horizons but also sparks the viewer’s imagination.
Holmes: Broadway is unique in the arts for its accessibility; it's one of the few places where fans can go directly to the stage door after a performance to meet and even have conversations with the cast members they've just seen on stage. While social media provides a way to connect, messages can be missed or overlooked, so the personal interaction available at the stage door is irreplaceable. These face-to-face encounters are incredibly inspiring, not just for the audience but for the performers as well – it's a reciprocal exchange that fills everyone’s cup.
Harris: These shows ignite artistic and creative curiosity among those who might not have previously considered attending a Broadway show. They offer a chance for people to discover a love for theater in genres they might have assumed were not to their taste. These productions expand the variety of shows available, providing audiences with a wider selection to choose from and the opportunity to explore different theatrical experiences.
Dinner and a Show
When asked about favorite restaurants they’ve visited here in Providence, the trio of performers’ answer was unanimous: The District. They were eager to return after their outstanding first visit the previous spring, but what truly set this visit apart was the chance to join forces with The District's house band. Lewis enthusiastically recounted the experience: "The band's talent was incredible. We got a chance to sing with them. I think we were in there for at least three hours." The night was not just about music; when it came to the food, the performers were equally impressed. They sampled a variety of dishes, each described as absolutely incredible.
Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations is performing at the Providence Performing Arts Center from January 23-28. Performance schedule and tickets are available online at PPACRI.org.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here