While the first national tour of Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations was performing at Buffalo's Shea's Performing Arts Center, a racially-motivated mass shooting was taking place at a nearby supermarket. At the conclusion of Saturday evening's performance of Ain't Too Proud May 14, cast member James T. Lane delivered the following message from the stage on behalf of the touring company:
"While we were performing our matinee this afternoon, we received news of a mass shooting just a little bit shy of two miles from this theatre. We—the cast, crew, orchestra, and all those involved with our touring company—would like to lift up in love the victims, their families, and anyone affected by this terrible event. It affects us all in a most personal way and affects our society at large and, ultimately, the world we all live in.
"Each and every person in this world deserves to live free of fear and discrimination because of the color of their skin. Theatre, music, and the arts are safe spaces where tolerance is celebrated, community is uplifted, and love is unconditional. We have all shared in that love this evening. That is a very, very powerful thing.
"Thank you so much for offering your beautiful theatre to us to spend this week. We have enjoyed our stay in your city. As you leave the theatre, continue to share that love in your own ways and take good care of yourselves and others ‘til we see each other down the road."
The production and Shea's Performing Arts Center issued a join statement May 15, which follows.
"Yesterday afternoon, the hate-filled actions of an individual claimed 10 lives, physically injured others, and shook the city of Buffalo to its core. We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims and their loved ones, as well as the entire Black community in Buffalo that was so brutally and viciously targeted. And we express our sincere gratitude to the city of Buffalo, Buffalo Police Department, and other first responders for their bravery, professionalism, and quick action.
"Today, we stand with the City of Buffalo and its residents, especially its Black community, as we mourn and heal together. And we reaffirm our commitment to providing a safe, equitable, and hate-free space for artists to freely share their stories with an eager and welcoming community.
"We are proud and honored to feature extraordinary talent onstage and off. Shea’s Buffalo Theatre and anywhere Ain’t Too Proud performs must be a safe space for these actors, musicians, crew members, and staff—and the diverse audiences who come to enjoy and celebrate this story."
Featuring a book by Dominique Morisseau, Ain't Too Proud uses the Temptations' hits to tell the story of their journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Songs include “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” “Get Ready,” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”
Leading the cast as The Temptations are Jalen Harris as Eddie Kendricks, Harrell Holmes Jr. as Melvin Franklin, James T. Lane as Paul Williams, Marcus Paul James as Otis Williams, and Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin.
The touring company also features Michael Andreaus, Gregory Carl Banks Jr, Brian C. Binion, Reed Campbell, Lawrence Dandridge, Nick Drake, Shayla Brielle G., Treston J. Henderson, Najah Hetsberger, Devin Holloway, Antwaun Holley, Traci Elaine Lee, Brett Michael Lockley, Chani Maisonet, Harris Matthew, Deri’Andra Tucker, and Andrew Volzer.
The First National Tour of Ain’t Too Proud is produced by Ira Pittelman and Tom Hulce, in association with Stephen Gabriel, executive producer. General management and production management are by Work Light Productions.
The M&T Bank Broadway Series is presented in partnership with Shea's Performing Arts Center and Albert Nocciolino.