To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the television show “Soul Train,” producers are bringing the story to Broadway.
The idea first transpired when producer Matthew Weaver, known for his work with Rock of Ages, acquired the stage rights to adapt the 1971 TV show into a musical back in 2014. Now, he’s hoping that the show will open on Broadway in 2021, just in time for “Soul Train’s” 50th anniversary. Weaver will produce the show alongside Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, of the rock band The Roots, who is a Grammy Award winner and author of Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation, as well as Devin Keudell. They’ll produce alongside partners Jeffrey Tick of Helen Hayes Theatre and Richard Gray of 5Pack Entertainment.
Soul Train will delve into the personal story of the late show host Don Cornelius, touching upon 20 songs from his era while he creates the icon TV show. Back when it debuted in 1971, the show often featured performances from an eclectic group of genres, including R&B, pop, funk, disco, and soul, among others. Each week, new dance moves were introduced, and after 37 years, it came to a close in 2006.
Tony Cornelius, Don’s son, explained in a press release that he spent many years working with his father and is “forever grateful and deeply humbled by the impact Soul Train has had on the culture at large both here and abroad.”
“For 37 years, and with purpose, through music, dance and style, Soul Train brought love, peace and soul to a national audience,” he said. “This positive representation is extremely satisfying and marks its 50th anniversary. Honoring his accomplishments, creative vision and legacy with a Broadway musical only emphasizes the impact Soul Train has had on our American fabric.”
Playwright Dominique Morisseau, who has joined the creative team to work alongside director Kamilah Forbes and choreographer Camille A. Brown, explained that she is excited to bring “the narrative of one of our culture’s most influential and legend-making endeavors to the stage.”
“Having grown up on this series and being immersed in the culture around it, I never knew what it took to make it the iconic staple that it is,” she said. “Through the socio-policital challenges both internally and externally, Don Cornelius’ uncompromised vision, and the revolutionary dance culture that the show made visible to the mainstream, there are a million handprints on what we know as Soul Train. I cannot wait to partner with this legendary creative team of incredible women to celebrate the history and the unsung heroes of our nation’s longest running televised music and dance series.”
At this time, an official open date has not been announced.