Creative Team Announced for ‘Soul Train’
(NEW YORK, NY – Monday, August 19, 2019) Tony Award-nominated Producer Matthew Weaver (Rock of Ages) and Jeffrey Tick (former owner of Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theater), alongside new general producing partner Richard Gay (5Pack Entertainment founder, and former EVP of Viacom’s Music Networks & BET Networks) announce the creative team and producing team for the Broadway-bound musical SOUL TRAIN, inspired by the iconic television series created and hosted by Don Cornelius. SOUL TRAIN will feature a trailblazing creative team with 2019 Tony Award Nominated and MacArthur Genius Grant-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau (Ain’t Too Proud, The Detroit Project), the Apollo Theater’s Kamilah Forbes (By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; The Mountaintop, Assoc.) as director, and 2019 Tony Award Nominee Camille A. Brown (Choir Boy, Emmy-winning Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC; Tony-winning revival of Once on This Island) as choreographer. The production is planning a Broadway premiere in 2021 in celebration of the landmark series’ 50th Anniversary.
Four-time Grammy Award winner and author of Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has come on board as Executive Producer of the musical, alongside Don Cornelius’s son Tony Cornelius, Emmy-nominated CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker, who is making his Broadway debut as an Executive Producer, 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 classic hit songs from the era, the musical tells the personal story of Cornelius as he creates the iconic television 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,” saidDominique Morisseau. “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.” 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.”
“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,” said the General Partners Matthew Weaver, Jeffrey Tick, and Richard 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.”
“With many years of experience working directly with my father, I’m forever grateful and deeply humbled by the impact “Soul Train” has had on the culture at large both here and abroad,” said Tony Cornelius. “For 37 years, and with purpose, through music, dance and style, “Soul Train” brought Love, Peace & Soul to a national audience. 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.”
“Soul Train” was created in 1971 by visionary 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 thirty-five-year run aired in 2006, it was the longest running first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history. “Soul Train” highlighted a cast of incredible, ethnically diverse dancers who famously introduced the world to a whole new series of dance moves and styles on a weekly basis. Cornelius opened every show welcoming the audience to “the hippest trip in America” and closed each show wishing the audience “love, peace and soul.” Today, the legacy of “Soul Train” lives on through the legendary Soul Train dance line, which has become a timeless staple on dance floors across America.
In 2016, BET Networks, the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs programming for the African American audience, acquired the “Soul Train” brand and remains dedicated to revitalizing the brand while also honoring its heritage. BET is the home of the annual Soul Train Awards that honors the best in urban music and entertainment and the critically acclaimed period drama “American Soul.” Based on the untold rise of the iconic music and dance program “Soul Train,” the original scripted series, has been picked up for Season 2 by the Network.
DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU (Book) is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre), and Detroit ’67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie’s (Premiere Stages). She is also the TONY nominated book writer on the new Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial Theatre). Dominique is alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, Women’s Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Conference. She most recently served as Co-Producer on the Showtime series “Shameless” (3 seasons). Additional awards include: Spirit of Detroit Award, PoNY Fellowship, TEER Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Audelco Awards, NBFT August Wilson Playwriting Award, Kennedy Prize for Drama, OBIE Award (2), Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, Variety’s Women of Impact for 2017-18, Variety’s Broadway Impact List 2019, and a MacArthur Genius Grant.
KAMILAH FORBES (Director) Broadway—associate director credits include Holler if Ya Hear Me, A Raisin in the Sun, Lucky Guy, Stick Fly, The Mountaintop, Def Poetry Jam (tour). Recent directing—Detroit 67 Baltimore Center Stage; People’s Light: All My Sons; People’s Light: Fences; Arena Stage: Blood Quilt; True Colors: Detroit ’67; Labyrinth Theater Company: Sunset Baby; 651 Arts: Circle Unbroken; Kennedy Center: Nas Live from the Kennedy Center, Tribute to Marvin Gaye featuring John Legend and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Ceelo Green’s Lady Killer Love story the musical (workshop); Drumline the Musical (workshop); Summer Stage: SweetBilly and the Zooloos; Other—Lincoln Center Theater, Public Theater, Lark Play Development Center, Arena Stage and Artistic Director of Hip-Hop Theater Festival. TV—credits include The Wiz Live(associate director, NBC); HBO’s Def Poetry Jam (producer); and HBO’s Brave New Voices (executive producer) PBS THE WOMEN”S LIST DOCUMENTARY (executive producer), PBS Nas Live from the Kennedy Center (producer) Professional—Executive Producer Apollo Theater, Kennedy Center: Curator in Residence. Education—Howard University, Oxford University.
CAMILLE A. BROWN (Choreography)) Broadway: Choir Boy (Nominee: Tony and Drama Desk Awards), Once on This Island – Revival (Nominee: Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Chita Rivera awards), A Streetcar Named Desire. Off-Broadway: Toni Stone (Roundabout), Much Ado About Nothing (Public Theater/Shakespeare in the Park), This Ain’t No Disco (Atlantic), Bella: An American Tall Tale (Playwrights Horizons, Lucille Lortel Award nominee), Fortress of Solitude (Public Theater, Lucille Lortel Award nominee). Regional: The Wiz (MUNY); ink(The Kennedy Center); Bella and Stagger Lee (Dallas Theatre Center); Cabin in the Sky (Encores! City Center); and tick, tick… BOOM!(Encores! City Center) starring Lin-Manuel Miranda. Television: “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” (NBC), “New Year’s Eve in Rockefeller Center” (NBC). Upcoming: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Feature Film, July 2019); Once (Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, July 2019),Porgy & Bess (Metropolitan Opera, September 2019), For Colored Girls (The Public Theater October 2019), and Once on This Island – Revival (National Tour October 2019). Camille is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, and a TED Fellowship, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award and is a four-time winner of the Princess Grace Award. Her concert dance company, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, received a 2014 Bessie Award & 2016 Bessie Award Nomination for ‘Outstanding Production’ for Mr. TOL E. RAncE and BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play, respectively. www.camilleabrown.org
MATTHEW WEAVER (Producer) began his foray into musical theatre after conceiving the Broadway phenomenon Rock of Ages. As lead producer, he ushered the concept from a small showcase in an LA bar, to a full-fledged smash-hit that ran close to 6 straight years on Broadway and grossed $140 million. The show was nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Musical and is the 27th longest running Broadway show of all time. The musical went on to play around the world including two national tours, London, Toronto, Vegas, Japan, Korea, Australia, Scandinavia, Mexico, Philippines, and currently is on the Norwegian Cruise Line ship, Breakaway. A Tony, Emmy, and Grammy nominee, Matthew Weaver has produced not only theatrical productions, but also countless scripted projects for film and television, full-length documentaries, and digital series.
JEFFREY TICK (Producer) was the co-owner of the Helen Hayes Theatre, the only independently owned venue on Broadway, whose longest and most successful show was the musical Rock of Ages. After selling the Helen Hayes to a nonprofit theatre company in 2015, Jeff Tick joined the producing team of Soul Train. Jeff also currently co-owns Tick & Co. a full-service insurance brokerage company based in New York.
RICHARD GAY (Producer) is the Founder and CEO of 5Pack Entertainment, a company focused on content creation, producing live events and investing in media-related opportunities. Prior to launching 5Pack Entertainment, Mr. Gay spent a 13-year career at Viacom as head of strategy and operations for various brands within the Viacom portfolio including MTV, Vh1, CMT and BET. In addition to his day-to-day role as head of strategy and operations, Mr. Gay managed the Soul Train brand for six years in roles at the Music Group and then BET and served as its General Manager after championing the acquisition of the Soul Train library and intellectual property by Viacom in 2016. Prior to joining Viacom, Mr. Gay was a Partner in the Media and Entertainment practice of Booz, Allen & Hamilton. Mr. Gay earned his B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of Business and his MBA from Stanford University. He currently serves on the Board of Overseers for the Weill Cornell Medical Center and the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.
AHMIR “QUESTLOVE” THOMPSON (Executive Producer) Drummer, DJ, producer, culinary entrepreneur, New
York Times best-selling author, and member of The Roots – Questlove, is the unmistakable heartbeat of Philadelphia’s most influential hip-hop group. He is the Musical Director for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”, where his beloved Roots crew serves as house band. Beyond that, this 4-time GRAMMY Award winning musician’s indisputable reputation has landed him musical directing positions with everyone from D’Angelo to Eminem to Jay-Z. Questlove has also released four books including the New York Times bestseller Mo’ Meta Blues; Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation; the James Beard Award nominated and AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers award winning booksomethingtofoodabout: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs, and the New York Times bestseller, and GRAMMY nominated Creative Quest. Additionally, Questlove is a strategic advisor, and the first artist ambassador for Pandora, as well as hosting a new series Questlove Supreme on his Questlove Station. He also recently co-produced the GRAMMY Award winning Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hamilton, alongside Alex Lacamoire, Bill Sherman, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter. He served as the Executive Music Producer and Composer on the A&E Mini Series “Roots.” Questlove and The Roots also announced that they are developing an animated children’s series, along with a live action children show, in partnership with Amazon. Most recently, The Roots released the track “It Ain’t Fair” featuring Bilal in conjunction with the critically acclaimed new film DETROIT. Questlove has also cemented himself as one of the most sought-after DJs in pop culture. He is the first and only DJ to ever perform on a commercial airline for Delta’s Silent Disco in the sky. He’s performed everywhere from the Obama’s White House Farewell Party to the Governor’s Ball Oscar Party and on stage during The Golden Globes. He also currently has a residency in Las Vegas at the new Park MGM Grand On the Record and Nomad Hotel’s Jemaa Pool.
ANTHONY E. ZUIKER (Executive Producer) is the creator of television’s hugely successful “CSI” franchise. When “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation premiered in 2000, it broke new ground for its unique storytelling and production values, and ranked as television’s number one drama for seven seasons. “CSI” has become a global phenomenon, earning the title of the “most-watched show in the world,” spawning three television spin-offs (“CSI: Cyber,” “CSI: Miami,” and “CSI: New York”), airing hundreds of episodes, and even breaking a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD®. As one of the most innovative cross-platform storytellers today, Zuiker has pushed the envelope on both scripted and reality television. His first foray into the reality genre, “Whodunnit?”, ran on ABC in 2013. Zuiker also created and executive produced “Cybergeddon,” a digital blockbuster for Yahoo! The project caught the attention of the International Digital Emmy Awards, and in April of 2013, Zuiker received the 2013 Pioneer Prize at MIPTV in Cannes. Zuiker is also credited as pioneering the “Digi-novel” genre and is the author of the best-selling series Level 26, published by Dutton/Penguin Group. In 2011, Zuiker published his personal memoir, Mr. CSI: How a Vegas Dreamer Made a Killing in Hollywood, One Body at a Time, with Harper Collins. In 2018, Zuiker and his wife Michelle founded Zuiker Press, a publishing company that champions the voice of young authors.
SHAWN GEE (Executive Producer) is the President of Live Nation Urban and has built a strong portfolio of urban facing festivals which reflects his standing as a leader in the urban music space. These include Broccoli City Festival, The Roots Picnic, Summer Block Parties Series and more. The Live Nation Urban venture Gee founded creates concert and festival platforms, produces live music based content and foster artist touring partnerships and branding opportunities specifically focused in the genres of hip-hop, R&B, and gospel. Recognizing the rapid growth and untapped potential of the urban content space, Live Nation Urban is an active and powerful global hub for urban-focused live content. Shawn Gee is the longtime manager of one of the most influential bands and brands in hip hop, The Roots, and iconic soul singer / actress Jill Scott He is also founding partner in the Maverick management company.
TONY CORNELIUS (Executive Producer) who is the son of the late Don Cornelius, began his twenty-five-year television career on the set ofSoul Train. Currently, he runs Don Cornelius Productions Inc. and is the Managing Director of The Don Cornelius Foundation whose dedicated mission is to establish programs for awareness, prevention, and support for those contemplating suicide, or survivors of those who have lost loved ones.
BET NETWORKS, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel is in nearly 85 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER (formerly CENTRIC), a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET Networks around the globe.