For their latest collaboration on the Great White Way, two-time Tony-winning director Des McAnuff and Tony-nominated choreographer Sergio Trujillo are cued to get Motown fans singing along with the biographical musical Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations. NY1 entertainment journalist Frank DiLella recently caught up with the two artists, best known for their work on the Tony-winning Jersey Boys and last season’s Donna Summer bio-musical, to talk about bringing the iconic group to the New York theater scene.
Both of you are familiar with staging bio-musicals — together you worked on Jersey Boys and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,and Sergio, you choreographed the Gloria and Emilio Estefan musical, On Your Feet! Why “The Temptations” as your latest project?
Des McAnuff:I just have to say, bio-musicals make up a relatively small percentage of my body of work. I think because of Jersey Boys, bio-musicals are now part of my reputation. I think with “The Temptations,” I grew up in Toronto during a big chunk of my youth and this was the genre that I loved and everyone around me loved: Motown, rhythm, and blues. I grew up listening to these songs and even playing them. It’s really a part of my history, and so I’m emotionally plugged into it. The real thing about this is when I met with [original member of The Temptations] Otis Williams. He asked me to do this, and you don’t say no to the surviving member of The Temptations. And I want to add it’s an amazing story, not just spectacular music. Their story is engaging, and it’s been a blast!
Sergio Trujillo:I was approached by Des and the producers to do this project. I think because of their music and their story and history, it begged to be musicalized.
Speaking of Otis Williams, how hands-on has he been with this project?
Des:Happily, he put a great deal of faith in this team and Dominique Morisseau, our book writer. Dominique is from Detroit; she went into this project with knowledge and sensitivity. She knows where these guys are from and what they’re about. Otis was supportive and gave us a lot of room. Shelly Berger, who has been managing The Temptations since the ’60s, was also available to us and valuable. Dominique and I met with Otis — we went to L.A. to spend a couple of very important meetings with him — and I’ve got to say, Otis has been valuable to the actors too. He’s been a true inspiration.
What’s been the best piece of insight Otis has shared with you in tackling the story of The Temptations?
Des:I think we came to understand the sacrifice that these guys made to achieve their place as the pinnacle of rhythm and blues. Otis has helped us understand what it cost them in terms of health and, to some extent, their lives. It wasn’t an easy achievement. We were able to understand their journey.
Sergio:Out of all the bio-musicals I’ve done, for this one I’ve felt the most pressure. The Temptations set the bar for dance and singing groups of that time. I felt pressure creating a vocabulary that paid homage to them. But I have to say, Otis and Shelly both gave me compliments. One day Shelly was watching me rechoreograph something in rehearsal, and he immediately called Otis Williams and said, “Sergio is a taskmaster. he’s just like [original member] Paul Williams and more!” And another time Otis said to me, “That step you’re doing there, I’m stealing it and I’m putting it into my show.”
Ain’t Too Proud had its world premiere at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California, then went to Washington, D.C., then L.A., then Toronto, and now New York. From a creative standpoint, what have you learned from your tour that you’re going to apply to the Broadway run?
Des:Every time you go to a new city, you have to adjust. It’s been a long haul for the actors and quite a journey getting this beast up a mountain. It’s been a luxury: We’ve seen it with different kinds of audiences. This show reaches a wide audience — it’s a show for young people, all colors and ages.
Sergio: More than anything, it’s allowed us to form a company of actors who fully understand the material, and they’re living in the material.
When I say “Motown,” what does that mean to you?
Sergio:I think iconic music.
Des:I think Berry Gordy. When Motown took off, it was the largest, most successful African American corporation in the country. I think Motown took music to a whole new level. It stands for excellence. I have great respect for the Motown artists — in particular, The Temptations — they did rise to the top. They did for rhythm and blues what The Beatles did for rock ’n’ roll.
With more than 30 songs by The Temptations in your show, dare I ask: Do you have a favorite?
Sergio:For me it changes, but right now I would say “Cloud 9” and “I Can’t Get Next to You.”
Des:When you’re working on a show, the songs are like your children — you don’t want to pick a favorite. But, if I had to, one of my favorite songs in the show is “I Can’t Get Next to You,” which is a later Temptations tune.
The Temptations began pumping out hit tunes in the 1960s, which was a rather dark period in our nation’s history. Talk about that dichotomy.
Des:I think The Temptations had something to do with the healing that was going on with the turbulence during the Civil Rights movement. They insisted that their audiences could not be segregated. When they first performed in the South, the audiences were segregated, and then it became contractual: If audiences were segregated, they wouldn’t play that particular venue. They had an impact in a time of violence and racial strife. They were the first African American band to headline a TV special — they crossed over between black artists and white artists. I think their history is not void of irony; they were fighting the good fight when a lot of people were at each other’s throats. But their story is also pertinent today. A lot of the themes that are presented in our show are relevant today: racial strife, the bigotry that’s still going on in our country. This is not a story about the ’60s, this is a story that applies to this life and time.
Sergio: When we began working on this two years ago, it was a time when we were facing some of our biggest challenges in terms of all the racial tension that was going on. I remember walking into rehearsal at Berkeley and two blocks away from the theatre there was a white-supremacist march and demonstration. I sort of felt, How much progress have we made with dealing with race in our country? And now we’re still talking about it and dealing with it. And personally, with all of the immigration issues going on right now and with Latinos being affected, Ain’t Too Proud is a show that allows us to have a moment of reflection. We’re partaking and making sure that change can finally occur in this country.
Your Classic Five Temptations are real triple threats. Talk about casting your principal performers. Was it a challenge to find them?
Des:First of all, it was frightening. Every time you cast a show, you think, Am I going to be able to find someone who can sing and dance this but also can act this? My god — it’s been such a wonderful experience as a director to get to work with the talented people we have. Derrick Baskin, who I’ve known for some time, the second he auditioned I knew we had our Otis Williams; he has the complexity and depth to play the role. Ephraim Sykes, we saw him read for the show in Los Angeles — again, instantaneous! He had the charisma and skill as a performer that it required to play David Ruffin. Jeremy Pope is Eddie Kendricks and he’s extraordinary. I also need to say the women in our show are terrific. I was just saying to my company, they’re the perfect team. This is my Super Bowl team.
You’re opening on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre, the same space where Dreamgirls premiered back in 1981. There are parallels between Dreamgirls and Ain’t Too Proud: similar story, same time period …
Des:It’s not lost on me. I love the Imperial Theatre. I got to do Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays at the Imperial and that was a fantastic experience. I think it’s a palace of a theatre. It has a terrific crew. And I love the fact that Dreamgirls was there. We’re standing on the shoulders of great leadership — the late Michael Bennett.
Sergio: I made my Broadway debut at the Imperial Theatre exactly 30 years ago in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. I have not looked at the marquee because I’m waiting until we start performances. This is a real full-circle moment for me — it’s unbelievable. I get to be in the theatre where Michael Bennett made a revolutionary musical, where I made my debut. And to bring this particular show to the Imperial, that’s important to me.
The Supremes make an appearance in Ain’t Too Proud. Any interest in doing their bio-musical next?
Des: [Laughs.] I think there’s a fictional version of that show, going back to Dreamgirls, and it was successful and played our theatre. The one advantage we have, though, is that we get to use The Temptations’ songs.
Sergio:I think if I’m going to tackle someone — I’m going to put it out there — I’m mystified by Selena.
Information We Collect
Information we collect directly from you: Your provision of your personal information to Us is completely voluntary; it is not a statutory or contractual requirement. Personally Identifiable Information (“PII”) is information that is uniquely identifiable to you, such as your name, address, email address, phone number, credit card number and other personal information that is not otherwise publicly available. Certain features of Our website may require that you provide Us with your personal information, including:
Mobile Alert Sign-Up (SMS)
Contact Us (email)
Public forums (e.g. message boards)
E-commerce (ticket purchases)
Your use of any of the features above;
New content on Our website;
News that We think may interest you about Us;
Responses to your questions/comments to us; and
Information relating to a ticket purchase.
We may use your demographic information for in house statistics, advertising and marketing target information. Our processing of your personal information is necessary for the performance and fulfillment of the contract between us and to provide you with Our services. We will also process, transfer, disclose and preserve personal information when We have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary, to resolve disputes, enforce our agreements and otherwise required by law. You can always opt-out of receiving future promotional communications from Us; see the Choice/Opt-out section below.Information We Collect Automatically: Even if you don’t use any of the features above, when you visit Our website, We may collect certain information about you.
From your Browser. For example, Our servers keep an activity log that tracks all visitors to the website. The information in the activity log does not identify you individually. The information collected may include among other data: your IP address, your registered domain or home server, time of access, date of access, web page(s) visited, number of clicks, software crash reports, type of browser used, session identification number, search terms, search results, access times and referring website’s address. We use your IP address to help diagnose problems with Our server and to administer Our website. Your IP address is also used to gather broad demographic information, such as country of origin and geographic location. We use such data in the aggregate to run internal analyses to improve upon your experience on Our website.
Tracking Tags (also known as “web beacons,” “action tags” or “single-pixel gifs”). Our website may also use tracking tags. Tracking tags are invisible graphics embedded in the pages of Our website that are programmed to collect non-personal information about your use of Our website. Like cookies, tracking tags provide overall usage patterns for Our website that We use for analysis and to provide personalized services and advertising content.
We comply with the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising set forth by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). You can opt-out of targeted advertising from certain providers at www.aboutads.info/consumers.
How We Use Your Personal Information
The personal information We collect allows Us to keep you posted on updates to Broadway Direct. It also helps Us to improve Our services, content, and advertising. If you don’t want to be on Our email list, you can opt out anytime by clicking the “unsubscribe” button or sending an unsubscribe email to [email protected]. From time to time, We may use your personal information to send transactional emails, such as communications about purchases and changes to Our terms, conditions, and policies. Because this information is important to your interaction with Broadway Direct, you may not opt out of receiving these communications. We may also use personal information for internal purposes such as auditing, data analysis, and research to improve Broadway Direct’s services, and customer communications. If you enter into a sweepstakes, contest, or similar promotion We may use the information you provide to administer those programs.
Information Collected By/Shared With Third Parties
Third Parties Doing Work for Us. Third parties have no rights to use any data We have collected on your behalf. However, We may employ other companies or individuals to perform functions on Our behalf, such as sending postal mail, email, and text messages, conducting sweepstakes/contests, prize fulfillment and promotional activities, analyzing data, providing marketing assistance, processing credit card payments and providing customer service. These outside suppliers, agents and vendors have access to your personal information only as needed to perform their functions.
Third Parties with Links from Our Website. From our website, you may be able to click on links to third party sites to buy tickets and merchandise and for other purposes. These third party sites may collect information, including personal information. We are not responsible for, nor do we have access to the information they collect. The collection of this information is governed by the privacy policies on the applicable third party sites.
Social Networking Services. Our website may integrate with social networking services. We do not control such services and are not liable for the manner in which they operate. While we may provide you with the ability to use such services in connection with our website, we are doing so merely as an accommodation and, like you, are relying upon those third party services to operate properly and fairly.
When necessary. We may also release personal information when we believe, in good faith, that such release is reasonably necessary to protect the rights, property or safety of Ourselves, Our clients, Our users, or others. We may disclose personal information about you to law enforcement, other government officials, or other third parties, as We, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate, in connection with an investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringement, or other activity that is illegal or may expose Us to legal liability.
Transactions With Third Party E-commerce Partners, Vendors and Advertisers
Delivery of Advertising and Other Content
In addition to ads and content that We may serve you directly, We use third-party advertising companies and marketing services companies to serve ads and other content when you visit Broadway Direct and elsewhere on the internet and in other media. Both We and these companies may use information about your visits to Broadway Direct and elsewhere to serve ads and other content to you. In the course of doing so, a unique third-party cookie may be placed or recognized on your browser by such companies. In addition, We and these companies may use Web beacons to help manage Our online advertising and content. These Web beacons enable Us and the third-party companies to recognize a browser’s cookie when a browser visits this Site and to learn which banner ads bring users to our website and to serve you ads that you may find of interest elsewhere on the internet and in other media. Both Broadway Direct and these companies may use information obtained from your visits to Broadway Direct or other websites, and information received from you offline in order to provide advertisements about goods and services and other content of interest to you across the internet and in other media. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used in this manner by Our third party advertising companies, please visit http://www.networkadvertising.org/optout_nonppii.asp and/or www.aboutads.info/choices. European users may opt out of receiving targeted advertising by visiting http://www.youronlinechoices.eu/. In addition, we may provide PII and Anonymous Information to marketing services companies. This may include information we received from you offline or online. These companies may combine information we provide (including PII and Anonymous Information) with personal and anonymous information they may have about you, using cookies they place or that We place on their behalf, as described in the section regarding “Cookies and Tracking Tags”. We require these companies to delete the PII we provide them. These companies may use the resulting non-personal information and such cookies for their own marketing purposes, and they may provide the same to their customers for their customer’s marketing purposes. Some of Our emails may contain tags that allow Us and Our advertisers and other partners to determine the types of content that may be of interest to you. Those tags may contain PII and may be shared with others to the same extent indicated in the section regarding “Cookies and Tracking Tags”. Those tags may not be deleted but you can opt out of receiving the emails.
Use of This Site by Children
The Site is not directed to individuals under the age of thirteen (13), and We request that such individuals do not provide personal information through the Site. If a parent or guardian becomes aware that his or her child has provided Us with PII without the parent or guardian’s consent by, for example, misrepresenting his or her age, that parent or guardian should contact us at [email protected]. If Broadway Direct determines that it has collected personal information of children under the age of 13, Broadway Direct will immediately delete such information and any accounts believed to be held by children under 13. In addition, we may not collect or process information from a citizen of an EU member state under the age of sixteen (16) without such person’s parental consent. If you are a citizen of an EU member state under the age of 16, please tell your parents that you are using the Site and have your parents email Us at [email protected] so that We may delete any information We may have collected about you.
California Civil Code § 1798.83 permits California residents to request information about whether we have disclosed personal information to any third parties for the third parties’ direct marketing purposes. California residents have the right to request in writing: (a) a list of the categories of Personal Information, such as name, email address and mailing address and the type of services provided to the customer that a business has disclosed to third parties (including affiliates that are separate legal entities) during the immediately preceding calendar year for the third parties’ direct marketing purposes and (b) the names and addresses of all such third parties. To make a request, please contact Us at the following email address: [email protected].
Rights of EU Data Subjects
If you are a resident of the European Union, under the GDPR, European Union residents, as data subjects, have the following rights:
Right to access – This right allows individuals to obtain confirmation as to whether or not personal information concerning him or her is being processed and provide access to such personal information. It also allows individuals to request details of the processing of his or her personal information, including, without limitation, categories of recipients to whom the personal information have been or will be disclosed and purposes of processing.
Right to rectify – This right allows individuals to rectify any inaccurate personal information about him or her.
Right to restrict processing – This right allows individuals to block or suppress processing of personal data under certain circumstances.
Right to be forgotten – This right is also known as the “right to erasure”. It is an individual’s right to have personal data erased or to prevent processing in specific circumstances.
Right of data portability – This right allows individuals to move, copy or transfer personal data from one place to another in a secure manner without interrupting the integrity and usability of the information.
Right to object to processing – This right allows individuals to object to certain types of processing, including direct marketing, profiling and providing for purposes of scientific or historical research and statistics.
An EU resident has the right to access his or her personal data that We hold and to ask that their personal data be corrected or erased and to port their data. An EU resident may also have the right to object to, or request that We restrict certain processing or to withdraw consent previously provided. If you would like to exercise your rights under the GDPR, please contact us at [email protected]. If you are an EU resident and have a concern about our processing of your personal data that we are not able to resolve, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Data Protection Authority where you reside. For contact details of your relevant local Data Protection Authority, please see http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/article29/item-detail.cfm?item_id=612080
Security of Your Personal Information
Broadway Direct employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for personal information collected through this Site, including physical, electronic and operational measures to maintain security and prevent unauthorized access. While Broadway Direct takes all appropriate steps to safeguard personal information under Our control, unfortunately, no data transmission over the Internet or method of storing data can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. As such, We cannot guarantee that personal information supplied by users will not be accessed on Our servers, or intercepted while being transmitted to Us over the Internet. We assume no liability for any damages you may suffer as a result of interception, alteration or misuse of information during such transfers.
We will retain your information for as long as your account or inquiry is active and for a reasonable time thereafter in accordance with Our standard procedures or as necessary to comply with Our legal obligations, to resolve disputes, and to enforce Our agreements. Even if We delete some or all of your Personal Information, We may continue to retain and use aggregate or anonymous data previously collected and/or anonymize or aggregate your Personal Information. Please note that We will not be liable for disclosures of your data due to errors or unauthorized acts of third parties.
This Site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from Us, at any time, by email at [email protected], or by clicking the unsubscribe link in any email communication. The Site gives users the following options for removing their information from our database, to not receive future communications or to no longer receive our service, at any time.
Users can send mail to the following postal address: Broadway Direct 1501 Broadway 14th floor New York, NY 10036
Users can call the following telephone number: (800) 223-6715.
Users can opt-out of receiving future newsletter emails from Us by selecting the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of our email. However, We are not responsible for removing your information from the lists of any third party who has previously been provided with your information or is collecting your information through their cookies. You have the right to withdraw your consent for Our processing for your personal information by contacting us at [email protected].
This website gives users the following options for changing and modifying information previously provided, at any time.
Users can send mail to the following postal address: Broadway Direct 1501 Broadway 14th floor New York, NY 10036
Users can call the following telephone number: (800) 223-6715
In the event that We are, or any component of our operations is, merged with, or is acquired by, another entity, then any such successor or acquiring entity may become the successor to Our obligations with respect to the personal information that you have provided to Us, which would be necessary for the entity to effectively continue our business. By using this website, you consent to any transfer and use of such personal information by an entity assuming control of Our operations as a result of a merger, purchase of assets, or liquidation in bankruptcy or insolvency.