×

‘CSI’ Creator Anthony Zuiker to Write ‘Soul Train’ Musical for Broadway

The brewing Broadway musical version of “Soul Train” has found its conductor, and it’s Anthony Zuiker, the creator of the “CSI” franchise.

TV procedural maven Zuiker, who wrote the two-hour series finale that wrapped up the 15-year run of the original “CSI” on Sunday, may not seem an obvious match for the “Soul Train” property. But Zuiker wears his love for soul music on his sleeve, and earlier this year demonstrated his enthusiasm in a closed industry presentation in New York, where he energetically pitched his take on the musical in a black velour track suit and gold high-tops.

“My parents would play soul music all night long,” Zuiker, who was raised in Las Vegas, said in a recent interview. “In the showroom at the Riviera Hotel where my mother worked, they had Bill Withers, the 5th Dimension. I grew up listening to this music.”

Zuiker was tapped for “Soul Train” by producer Matthew Weaver, who has experience crafting a musical from a catalog of hit songs as one of the lead producers of “Rock of Ages.” Weaver and Zuiker previously collaborated some 20 years ago on “The Harlem Globetrotters Story,” which never got off the ground at TriStar Pictures. Last year the producer and his company, MediaWeaver Entertainment, made a deal with Soul Train Holdings (chaired by Earvin “Magic” Johnson) to develop the stage version of the property.

In Zuiker’s conception, the “Soul Train” musical will tell the backstage story of producer and host Don Cornelius as well as a handful of the “Soul Train” dancers — making it sound, in broad outline, like the kind of behind-the-music tale that has found Broadway success in current shows “Jersey Boys” and “Beautiful.”

“The goal for me is to take 25 to 30 songs and string them together in a way that tells the story of Don Cornelius and the ‘Soul Train’ dancers,” Zuiker said. “The first thing the ‘Soul Train’ folks did was hand me a binder of 20,000 songs and say, ‘Hey, pick 20.’ “

The exact song list has yet to be ironed out, but the show looks certain to include Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” the Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around,” Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You” and Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me.” According to Weaver, the “Soul Train” capitalization will be on par with the average for relatively large-scale musicals, which can tend to cost somewhere between $12 million and $16 million.

Zuiker said that although he was familiar with “Soul Train”– which ran in syndication for a whopping 35 years, from 1971 to 2006 — his writing process has included “square-one research,” boning up on the show’s history and talking to some of the people who were there in the early days. (Creator and host Cornelius died in 2012.) He added that although he’s never written a stage musical, he’s always had a healthy respect for stage productions, citing recent titles he’s enjoyed (“Jersey Boys,” “Wicked,” “Kinky Boots”) and adding that since he was a kid he’s wanted to write a show for Broadway.

He said he spent his summer writing “Soul Train” from 5:00 am to 11:00 am every morning, and switching to the “CSI” finale from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. “I was putting one dream to bed and opening a new chapter on another,” he said.

Weaver said that no workshop or production timeline had yet been set for “Soul Train,” and that the next step will to get a director on board for the project. “We have dreams of being on Broadway in 2017,” he said.

More Legit

  • HBO's 'SUCCESSION

    Brian Cox Playing LBJ in Broadway Run of 'The Great Society'

    Brian Cox will play President Lyndon Johnson in the Broadway run of “The Great Society,” playwright Robert Schenkkan’s follow-up to “All the Way.” The role of Johnson, a crude, but visionary politician who used the office of the presidency to pass landmark civil rights legislation and social programs, was originally played by Bryan Cranston in [...]

  • Paul McCartney Has Penned Score for

    Paul McCartney Has Been Secretly Writing an 'It's a Wonderful Life' Musical

    The pop superstar who once released a movie and album called “Give My Regards to Broad Street” really does have designs on Broadway, after all. It was revealed Wednesday that Paul McCartney has already written a song score for a stage musical adaptation of the 1946 Frank Capra film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The [...]

  • The Night of the Iguana review

    West End Review: 'The Night of the Iguana' With Clive Owen

    If Tennessee Williams is the poet laureate of lost souls, none of his characters as are off-grid as the restless travelers trying to make it through his little-seen 1961 play, “The Night of the Iguana.” Holed up in a remote Mexican homestay, its ragtag itinerants live hand-to-mouth, day by day, as they seek refuge from [...]

  • Moulin Rouge Broadway

    Listen: The Special Sauce in Broadway's 'Moulin Rouge!'

    There are songs in the new Broadway version of “Moulin Rouge!” that weren’t in Baz Luhrmann’s hit movie — but you probably know them anyway. They’re popular tunes by superstars like Beyoncé, Adele and Rihanna, released after the 2001 movie came out, and they’ll probably unleash a flood of memories and associations in every audience [...]

  • Greta Gerwig and Oscar Isaac

    Greta Gerwig and Oscar Isaac to Star in Anton Chekhov's 'Three Sisters' Adaptation

    Greta Gerwig and Oscar Isaac are taking on an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” for New York Theatre Workshop in Manhattan. The company announced on Tuesday that they will feature two final performances to round out the 2019 to 2020 season, including the Chekhov play. “Three Sisters” will be directed by Tony award-winning Sam [...]

  • montreal just for laughs Comedy Festival

    Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival Is the 'Coachella of Comedy'

    Every summer, Montreal becomes the epicenter of the comedy world as the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival takes over the Canadian city. Now in its 37th year, the mindboggling scale of the festival is there in the numbers: more than 1,600 artists from across the globe (speaking English, French and other languages) performing 250 shows [...]

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content