Earlier this week, the team at Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations welcomed several bloggers, online reviewers, and content creators to a special peak behind the scenes of their incredible show. Having already received a glowing ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ review from Daz, the production let me sit in on their warmup and notes before the evening’s performance, and I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Kyle Cox, one of the West End’s very own Temptations.
Ain’t Too Proud chronicles the rise to fame, the struggles and successes, of one of the most successful music groups of all time, weaving songs from their legendary catalogue and select tracks form their contemporaries into their captivating true stories.
Kyle Cox is a graduate of Arts Ed, whose professional credits include Elf the Musical at London’s Dominion Theatre, and last year’s acclaimed Chichester Festival Theatre production of Crazy for You. In Ain’t Too Proud, he flexes his triple-threat skills as Paul Williams, one of the original members of The Temptations.
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Sam: We are here, at the Prince Edward Theatre for Ain’t Too Proud – isn’t it gorgeous?
S: So, would you like to introduce yourself, and what it is you do here?
K: Hello, my name Kyle Cox and I play Paul Williams in Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations
S: Just to get the obvious questions out of the way – how much did you know about The Temptations prior to joining the show? And what is your favourite Temptations song?
K: Okay… Okay… I knew a fair amount about The Temptations beforehand, but not as much as the show goes into. I knew little bits about them, like the record label they were with (Motown), some of their songs, but I didn’t know as much detail as I have grown to know through performing the show every night and the rehearsal process. I’ve really delved into the era and into their lives.
S: Yeah, you’d hope you know them a little more intimately, being up there every night.
K: Yeah, you’d think so (laughs)
S: So what’s the favourite song?
K: Uh, the favourite song is “My Girl” – it’s the classic.
S: Has that changed while you’ve been in the show, or has it always been?
K: It hasn’t. It’s always been the same, yeah.
S: We love that. I just wanna ask this of everyone I meet today, just because of other recent West End shows – If you had to pick one, you can’t listen to the other one ever again, The Temptations or The Drifters?
K: Can’t listen to them ever again?
S: Yeah, you can only listen to one of those two for the rest of your life.
K: The Temptations. Listen to them, yeah. I think the hardest that would be for is Tosh.
S: Yes, that’s where the question came from. (laughs)
K: Yes, yes. For me, I would love to listen to The Temptations.
S: For PR reasons, that’s a very good answer.
K: Yessssssssss. (he pumps his fist and laughs)
S: But I’m sure it came from the heart as well. How long has this show been running in London now?
K: Um, so we opened on the 31st of March, so we’ve been going a couple months now, and we’ve got six months left.
S: Lovely, and do you have any plans for afterwards or is that still up in the air for you at the moment?
K: Still up in the air at the moment.
S: Isn’t it always?
K: It always is.
S: Crazy, crazy industry.
K: We’ll see what happens. Get auditioning, get out there!
S: What’s the audition process like for a show like this, with it being real people that you’re portraying up there? Is it any different to a usual musical theatre audition.
K: Um, I would say so. I would say, the casting team did a really good job of getting the people in for each role that they saw could play the role and would represent that person properly, and give them the dues that they’re owed. I think the process is the same as the usual audition process for a musical – you have your first round through to however many rounds you do within the process, you get calls back for different things, like music calls, or script calls, or dance calls, and you have all these different things you’ve got to come back in for.
But I would say it’s pretty similar to a normal call. I would say, with this one, they did have loads of people in, trying different formations of people in to see if they could get the aesthetic of The Temptations – the right chemistry, out of the five.
S: Yeah, of course.
This doesn’t feel like my place to ask, but I just feel like I have to – Do you feel it’s important that we, bit by bit, not fast enough, are having more and more Black-led musical theatre in London?
K: Yes, yes, I do think so.
S: And I feel like it’s an obvious yes, I just want to get your thoughts on that.
K: I do think so, I think Black talent on the stage is so enjoyable for me to see, and there’s so many more shows coming out at the moment, that are just producing excellence, and it’s an honour to be a part of one of the shows that showcase Black men, on the stage for people to come and watch, and to enjoy, and to play such interesting people – and to show their lives.
S: And I guess that reminder, of how influential these particular Black men already were?
K: And how much they did for the music industry and the whole, yeah.
S: Absolutely, ‘cause they’re just so good.
K: (chuckles) Yeah.
S: So, slightly off the topic of this show, what would you say are your top three favourite musicals?
K: Hmm, I… Oooh. Okay, top three favourite musicals. Probably, Lion King, rogue one but Joseph, I love Joseph, and Jelly’s Last Jam.
S: Ooh, you’ve got a good variety there. We love a man of culture!
Back to this show, if you could, even just for one performance, switched roles with someone else up there, is there someone you’d go straight to?
K: Yeah, I would say Melvin. Yeah, I think Melvin’s role is incredible.
(Melvin, another of the classic Temptations, is played by Cameron Bernard Jones in this production)
S: I feel like everyone has a role in the show they’re already doing that’s, like, “If I wasn’t doing my role, which I do love… that one!”
S: So, I think that’s probably all I’ve got.
S: Excuse the fact that I’ve never interviewed anyone in my life.
K: (chuckles) That’s okay!
S: I take it you’re looking forward to tonight’s show.
K: I am, yes.
S: I’m very much looking forward to it, I’m glad I’m finally getting to see it.
K: Yeah, I’m excited for so many people to come and watch – let’s get some great reviews, (crosses fingers) I hope!
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Based on the standing ovation at the end of the night, I think Kyle’s prayers for positive feedback were well and truly heard. A beautiful show in a beautiful venue, I couldn’t possibly do better than Daz already has to explain what makes this show so enjoyable, so check out his review from the Ain’t Too Proud press night here: https://www.allthatdazzles.co.uk/post/review-ain-t-too-proud-the-life-and-times-of-the-temptations-prince-edward-theatre
Thank you so much to the cast and crew of Ain’t Too Proud, the staff at the Prince Edward Theatre, and Raw PR for this wonderful opportunity and a spectacular night out at the theatre – and last but certainly not least, thanks so much to Kyle Cox for taking the time to talk to me, and for how kind and generous he was before, after, and during the interview.
For tickets to see Kyle and the rest of London’s very own Temptations in this brilliant bio-musical visit https://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/whats-on/aint-too-proud
Production photos by Johan Persson