The Broadway-aimed musical Soul Train, inspired by the TV series created and hosted by Don Cornelius, will feature a book by 2019 Tony nominee and MacArthur genius grant–winning playwright Dominique Morisseau (Ain’t Too Proud, The Detroit Project).
Apollo Theater’s Kamilah Forbes (By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; The Mountaintop) will direct the musical, which is planning a 2021 Broadway premiere in celebration of the series’ 50th anniversary, with choreography by 2019 Tony nominee Camille A. Brown (Choir Boy, Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC, Once on This Island).
Four-time Grammy winner Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, who penned Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation, has come on board as executive producer of the musical, alongside Don Cornelius’ son, Tony Cornelius, Emmy-nominated CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker, and Live Nation Urban President Shawn Gee. Devin Keudell is serving as executive producer with Bespoke Theatricals (The Color Purple, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child) as general manager. Nick Stern from Media Weaver will serve as a co-producer.
Through more than 20 hit songs from the era, Soul Train will tell the story of Cornelius as he creates the TV series.
“I am so excited to help bring the narrative of one of our culture’s most influential and legend-making endeavors to the stage,” said Morisseau in a statement. “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. Through the socio-political 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.”
“We’re thrilled that our extensive search for the best creative minds for Soul Train has yielded some of the finest talent in their fields, whether that be storytelling, dance, music, or direction. That this process also led us to a historic first—having African-American female artists as the creative core of a Broadway musical—only makes us more excited about the journey,” added Weaver, Tick, and Gay in a joint statement. “Don Cornelius created a television show that became a cornerstone in American Culture, and we are so humbled and honored to be bringing it to the stage with their brilliant vision.”
Soul Train was created in 1971 by Don Cornelius and predominantly featured performances by R&B, pop, soul, and hip-hop artists, in addition to the occasional funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artists. When the final episode of the show’s historic 35-year run aired in 2006, it was the longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history.