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ACT will present SOUL TRAIN musical world premiere in fall 2021

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jacobsnchz14
Broadway Legend
joined:12/13/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/13/06

In fall 2021, A.C.T. will present the world premiere of the pre-Broadway musical, Soul Train (September 24-October 31, 2021), based on the iconic television show that brought Black music, dance, and style into every living room in America. In 1971, at a time of revolutionary cultural change, Black entrepreneur and visionary Don Cornelius created Soul Train. For the next four decades, he wrote, hosted, produced, and owned the series-turning it into a cultural institution, and the longest-running show on US television. Inspired by the series and Cornelius's personal journey, Soul Train is the brand new, Broadway-bound musical featuring an acclaimed creative team, including 2019 Tony Award-nominated and MacArthur Genius Grant-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau (Ain't Too Proud; The Detroit Project), 2019 Tony Award nominee Camille A. Brown (A.C.T.'s Toni Stone; Tony Award-winning revival of Once on This Island) as choreographer, and the Apollo Theater's Kamilah Forbes (upcoming HBO adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me; By The Way, Meet Vera Stark) as director.

Elegant, determined, and complicated, Cornelius set trends for 40 years, and launched the careers of artists who created the soundtracks for generations-from Tina Turner, to Whitney Houston, to the Jackson 5. He also introduced dancers such as Rosie Perez and Jody Watley, whose attitude, steps, and style continue to influence the world today. The musical is produced by Tony Award-nominee Matthew Weaver (Rock of Ages), Jeffrey Tick (former owner of Broadway's Helen Hayes Theater), and Richard Gay (5Pack Entertainment founder, and former EVP of Viacom's Music Networks & BET Networks). Serving as executive producers are: four-time Grammy Award-winning artist and author of Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson; Don Cornelius's son Tony Cornelius; Emmy Award nominated CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker; Live Nation Urban president Shawn Gee, and Broadway veteran Devin Keudell (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical). Performances of Soul Train will take place at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater.

Says MacKinnon: "Choreographer Camille A. Brown is one of my most cherished collaborators. I cannot wait to see what she and the rest of this team of world-class thrilling artists bring. I love a musical that lets performers surprise even themselves. We are charged with creating a safe and brave Black space in the Geary so that this story about a brave Black space can soar. I cannot wait to be in the room."

https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/American-Conservatory-Theater-Announces-Season-Lineup-Including-the-World-Premiere-of-SOUL-TRAIN-and-More-20200729

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JBroadway
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joined:4/6/12
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As much as I adore Dominique Morisseau - she couldn't save Ain't Too Proud, and I'm not hopeful that she can save this. Seems like it's going to be yet another hollow jukebox musical. I like Camille Brown's work, and I enjoyed Forbes' work on the "By The Way, Meet Vera Stark." It's a strong team of artists, but unless the producers actually let the artists have enough creative control to do something interesting, and not shove them into the Jukebox template, then why even bother hiring talented artists? 

Also, ACT has not had the best track record with "pre-Broadway" tryouts. I put "pre-Broadway" in quotes because I actually don't think they've had a single Broadway transfer in decades, if ever. And they rarely even get the tryouts in the first place - the regional defaults tend to be Berkeley Rep, The Curran, or SHN/BSF.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can only think of 2 "Pre-Broadway tryouts" to have played at ACT in recent memory: "Tales of the City" and "A Walk on the Moon" - both seemingly dead in the water. 

Glad ACT is getting The Headlands. I loved that play, and it should be seen in SF. 

SouthernCakes
Broadway Legend
joined:7/29/19
Broadway Legend
joined:
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This doesn’t sound great but it’s not my money...
SouthernCakes
Broadway Legend
joined:7/29/19
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/29/19
This doesn’t sound great but it’s not my money...
ArtMan
Broadway Legend
joined:9/10/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/10/08

Where is the drama to support the book for this show? Act 1 showstopper .....the creation of the Soul Train line. It is just an excuse to showcase the songs during the show's run.  I would never go see this.  But I hope they feature Cheryl Song.  She was the really pretty Asian dancer with the really long straight black hair.  When she danced, she would work that hair.  Whenever I watched Soul Train, I would look forward to her on the show.

bear88
Broadway Star
joined:4/26/16
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JBroadway said: "As much as I adore Dominique Morisseau - she couldn't save Ain't Too Proud, and I'm not hopeful that she can save this. Seems like it's going to be yet another hollow jukebox musical. I like Camille Brown's work, and I enjoyed Forbes' work on the "By The Way, Meet Vera Stark."It's a strongteam of artists, but unless the producers actually let the artists have enough creative control to do something interesting, and not shove them into the Jukebox template, then why even bother hiring talented artists?

Also, ACT has not had the best track record with "pre-Broadway" tryouts. I put "pre-Broadway" in quotes because I actually don't think they've had a single Broadway transfer in decades, if ever. And they rarely even get the tryouts in the first place - the regional defaults tend to be Berkeley Rep, The Curran, or SHN/BSF.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can only think of 2 "Pre-Broadway tryouts" to have played at ACT in recent memory: "Tales of the City" and "A Walk on the Moon" - both seemingly dead in the water.

Glad ACT is getting The Headlands. I loved that play, and it should be seen in SF.
"

As with all of these announcements, I just shake my head about anything before the fall of 2021. Those probably get cancelled, and even fall of 2021 is optimistic even though San Francisco has done well keeping COVID-19 under control.

Soul Train looks like an attempt to find a show with Black creatives that can more easily find an audience because it's a jukebox. Ain't Too Proud started at the Berkeley Rep and sold out its entire run, so a musical that can be promoted in similar fashion will probably do pretty well unless it's terrible or the coronavirus keeps people away. My cautious hope is that Dominique Morrisseau, having proven she can write a commercially successful Broadway musical, will have a little more latitude to write a book that isn't just filler between the songs. It's not the worst idea I've ever heard, as a commercial venture, although I hope it's not just standard jukebox fare.

ACT has a relatively new artistic director, Pam MacKinnon, who probably wouldn't mind a hit, pre-Broadway musical to draw audiences. You're right that most SF-area tryouts start elsewhere, especially the Berkeley Rep or the Curran. But the Curran is occupied with Harry Potter for the foreseeable future, whenever "the future" of SF-area theater returns. 

My biggest disappointment is that Poor Yella Rednecks, the sequel to Vietgone, which had been scheduled to premiere at the ACT's Geary Theater this spring, has apparently disappeared for the time being. But given all the uncertainties, that's probably OK. I strongly suspect it will be back in San Francisco, as Vietgone was such a nice hit for ACT that the sequel was moved to the larger Geary.

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George in DC
Understudy
joined:5/21/19
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I want live theatre to return , but not another jukebox musical. If this were the only thing open, I still wouldn't go.

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uncageg
Broadway Legend
joined:5/13/04
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Don't know if this is the same project or people involved (I have a feeling it isn't), but I went to a presentation for a Soul Train Musical in NYC somewhere around 2013. I know the idea has been kicking around for years.

Just give the world Love.
SisterGeorge
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JBroadway said: "Also, ACT has not had the best track record with "pre-Broadway" tryouts. I put "pre-Broadway" in quotes because I actually don't think they've had a single Broadway transfer in decades, if ever. And they rarely even get the tryouts in thefirst place - the regional defaults tend to be Berkeley Rep, The Curran, or SHN/BSF.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can only think of 2 "Pre-Broadway tryouts" to have played at ACT in recent memory: "Tales of the City" and "A Walk on the Moon" - both seemingly dead in the water.
"

I can think of one: "High Society" starring Melissa Errico and a big-name supporting cast premiered at ACT in the fall of 1997 in pretty good shape ("...a world-premiere musical loaded with talent and driven by terrific theatrical invention." SF Chronicle), but was ruined by six months of unnecessary tinkering before opening on Broadway to disappointing reviews, audience indifference. and the most baffling poster art I can remember.