For anyone who cranked up an AM radio to Motown, the songs needed no introductions. From the rhythmic “Ain’t too proud to beg, sweet darlin’,” to the sweetness of “I got SUN-shine…. on a CLOUD-y day…” the crowd packing the Ohio Theatre got their arms pumping and lips synching. And the legendary Temptations – for real and in person – filled center stage with their soaring harmonies to honor one huge fan of the Detroit sound, someone who has led another cultural institution to great heights.

This year’s Playhouse Square benefit celebrated Art J. Falco and his three decades at the helm of Playhouse Square. Working with strategic community partnerships and with shared vision, Falco helped revitalize the downtown Cleveland theater district to create a world-class center for the performing arts.

Under Falco’s tenure, Playhouse Square renovated and reopened the Allen and Ohio Theatres, welcomed the Cleveland Play House and Cleveland State University theater and dance departments, and transformed the intersection of Euclid Avenue and 14th Street with the monumental GE Chandelier. Looking to the future, Falco helped the Legacy campaign surpass its goal, reaching the $110 million sum announced by co-chairs Amy Brady and Jon Outcalt during the Center Stage program.

With Gina Vernaci taking the reins as president and CEO, Falco will continue to advise on special projects and real estate initiatives, specifically the 34-story Lumen apartment tower. Perhaps the most telling refrain of the evening, then, didn’t come from “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” or even “My Girl.”

“It was just my imagination,” crooned the Temptations, “running away with me!” STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY PEGGY TURBETT

Maryann and Art Falco, center, with daughters Elizabeth Falco, left, and Bridget Falco, right, and Pier Zane.

Ruth Mayers and Debra Hollander; (seated L_R) Beth Curtiss and Amy Handel.

Carol and Walt Rosebrough with Anna Kick

Bill Hilyard and Gina Vernaci

Tom and Joanie Adler

David Dusek and James Graham