Otis Williams, the sole surviving original Temptations member; “Ain’t Too Proud” playwright Dominque Morrisseau; and longtime Temptations manager Shelly Berger came onstage at the Detroit Opera House and spoke to the audience July 10 following the curtain call.
The show, which runs through Aug. 28, tells the story of The Temptations singing group, which began in Detroit.
Morrisseau said they had wanted to bring the show to Detroit sooner, but the pandemic delayed its Detroit debut.
She said that when she was first approached to write the script, the world was in a different place.
“I was looking as an artist, as what do I do, how do I use my voice in this time of civic unrest and social injustice that was happening,” she said. “And then I started to read Otis’ autobiography, and I remember where they got to the part where 1967 in Detroit happened.”
Morrisseau said it struck her that The Temptations were on the road when the 1967 riots occurred.
“Detroit was in flames and they had to try to figure out who they were going to be, from the ashes, and how they were going to bridge a divided nation with their art,” she said. “I thought, that is what we as artists are trying to do right now, that’s why we tell you stories on these stages, because we are once again in times of social injustice and we are once again a divided nation, but it is us, as artists, who have the direction to bring it back together.”
Morrisseau said it was an honor to tell the story of Detroit’s homegrown singers.
She then introduced Berger, who has served as The Temptations’ manager for 56 years.
He joked about being white, Jewish and from Brooklyn as he started to talk to the audience.
“Detroit is a great part of my heart,” he said. “When we got to Broadway, we thought we had climbed the highest mountain, but we knew there was one mountain even higher – and we had to make it for our family – and here you are tonight.”
Morrisseau said the show is nothing without its living legends.
She said when she first met Williams, and began to hear his stories, she asked him what it was like to be the last surviving member of the original Temptations, and he asked her if she meant if he had any regrets.
Morrisseau, who said Williams’ dialogue in the play is based much on his own words, said his one wish, as mentioned in the play, would be to bring back his son, who died at the age of 23 in a construction accident.
“I didn’t make up a lot of stuff, because this man is like his own play,” she said. “He has his own lines, his own dialogue and he has so many ‘Otis-isms,’ and I’ve stolen half of them for our show.”
Morrisseau said she felt so honored to be a participant in bringing The Temptations story to the stage, and to give Williams “his flowers while he is still alive.”
Williams was all smiles as he came on stage, and expressed his appreciation for Detroit and the audience.
“You show me why I love Detroit,” he said to the enthusiastic house. “You’ve been with me through our many changes, and you’re still faithful, and I love you for that, because some things in life you can’t buy.”
Williams said he may live in California, but he still considers Detroit his home.
He said the musical showed a little bit about his life, but that there is so much more.
“You saw a little bit about how I lived my life,” he said. “You just saw two hours, and I’ve lived doing this for 60 years, and check this out – I am 80 years old.”
Williams said that because of his fans, he is still having fun.
“We travel the world, but it’s always great to come home,” he said. “The play should have been here a couple of years ago, but the pandemic shut us down. But, you know, we have the patience of Job, and here we are, standing before you today.”
Williams praised Berger for being with him through all of the ups and downs.
“He’s been a rock, and I love him,” he said. “Detroit, thank you for coming out. Every time I see the show, I cry. Detroit, I love you, and thank you for coming.”
PS CENTER STAGE PLAYERS AUDITION FOR ‘THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER’
Wyandotte’s PS Center Stage Players will hold auditions for the holiday comedy “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at First United Methodist Church, 72 Oak St. Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script.
Penny Siler, who will direct the show, said roles are available for children ages 3 and up and for adults.
The show runs Dec. 1, 2, 8 and 9 at the Jo Brighton Auditorium, 4460 18th St. in Wyandotte.
Call 734-771-0590 for more information.