James Lane has an enviable musical theater resume. He’s played in shows from “Kiss Me, Kate,” “A Chorus Line” and “Chicago” to “Jersey Boys,” “Cinderella,” “Fame” and “The Wiz.”
But, without a doubt, his current gig playing Paul Williams in “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations,” on stage April 19 through May 1 at Boston’s Citizens Bank Opera House, is a career highlight.
“Usually, I’m one Black man in a cast with many. But here I am a part of history, playing a full-fledged iconic character — one of the original members of The Temptations and the first choreographer of the group,” he said last week, talking animatedly by phone from Milwaukee.
The Temptations released a series of successful singles and albums with Motown Records during the 1960s and ’70s. Their hits include “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination” and “Get Ready,” among many others. They are well-known for their choreography, distinct harmonies and dress style. Only founder Otis Williams still performs in the lineup today.
Paul Williams was like a supernova star, Lane said.
“He burned bright early, and then faded and died,” he said. “Paul had sickle cell anemia, was depressed, and became an alcoholic.”
He died of an apparent suicide in July 1973, at age 34, and was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 as a member of The Temptations.
Despite the personal problems that plagued Williams, playing him is an honor for Lane.
“It’s such a jewel to play this role and to be a part of history,” he said.
A Philadelphia native, he started dancing and singing at an arts elementary school and never looked back. The show is booked for many months to come across the country. But Lane is looking forward to playing Boston especially, since he will see his godparents, who live here.
And he can’t wait to play the Opera House.
“Everyone will be dancing and wiggling to the music — I promise,” he said.
Tickets starting at $44.50 are available at BroadwayInBoston.com.
In the wings
BROADWAY IN WORCESTER: The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts announced the shows in its 2022-2023 Broadway Series last week — and it’s a line-up that has amassed over 60 awards. On tap is “Tootsie,” Sept. 29-Oct. 2; “Mean Girls,” Oct. 11-16; “Aladdin,” Nov. 3-6; “Annie,” Feb. 23-26; “Hadestown,” March 28-April 2 and “Jesus Superstar,” April 27-30, 2023. Subscriptions, with numerous options, are available now. And new subscribers who commit before June 1 to next year’s season will receive a complimentary ticket to one of the shows in the current season — “Anastasia,” April 14-17; “The Prom,” April 26-May 1, or “The Band’s Visit,” June 16-19. Current and new subscribers can renew or purchase subscriptions at TheHanoverTheatre.org or call the box office at 877-571-7469.
CAMBODIAN DANCE IN LOWELL: Enjoy the magical movements and stories of traditional Cambodian dance in “Arts of the Spirits” at 7 p.m. Friday at the MCC Academic Arts Center, 240 Central St., Lowell. Lowell Mayor Sokhary Chau hosts the one-time-only performance. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $10; general admission at the door is $15 or $10 for children, students with valid ID and seniors, 65 and older. Call 978-427-9342, 978-955-0786 or 978-221-9333 for tickets.
SPRING FLING: There’s an abundance of shows opening this week and next at area theaters. For your consideration, check out Lyric Stage Company of Boston’s “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” April 15-May 22. Directed by long-time Lyric artistic director Spiro Veloudos, the drop-dead musical comedy tells the story of charming, ambitious Monty Navarro. He’s eighth in line for an earldom and a guy with a few tricks up his sleeve as he juggles the affections of two lovely ladies, dodges suspicions and relies on fortunate twists of fate. Visit lyricstage.com for tickets and info. … The Umbrella Stage Company in Concord welcomes audiences back to live performances with the high-spirited musical “Head Over Heels,” April 15-May 8. Fueled by the music of new Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Go-Go’s, the show is a gleeful mash-up of Tudor-period court drama and ’80s pop-punk jukebox. The latest creation from those who wrote “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Avenue Q,” it explores gender-fluidity, sexual awakening, beauty and acceptance with a backdrop of fun music. Visit TheUmbrellaArts.org/BoxOffice for tickets and info.
And catch next week’s Stages column for more info on the world premieres of “Miss Holmes Returns” on April 21 at Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham and Jack Neary’s “Moonglow” on April 22 at The Players Ring in Portsmouth, N.H.
Nancye Tuttle’s email is email@example.com.