The groundbreaking song-and-dance show "Soul Train" is chugging toward Broadway. Stage
and film producer Matthew Weaver, who helped create "Rock of Ages," has acquired the theatrical
stage rights to the TV show and said Tuesday he's hoping to repeat his success by turning "Soul
Train" into a show that attracts both die-hard Broadway fans and those who usually avoid Times Square.
"I'm nervous and I'm humbled and I'm excited," said Weaver, who heads the production company
MediaWeaver Entertainment. "I do think we're the right people to do it because I think it's got to have
that spirit of `Rock of Ages,' which is part old-fashioned musical but also part party." "Soul Train,"
with its trademark animated train opening, provided a national, weekly showcase for R&B artists,
black culture and fashion, and gave advertisers an entree to the black consumer market. It later
had to compete with video shows on BET that broadcast black artists, and eventually MTV and VH1.
The TV show, a sort of black version of "American Bandstand," featured such acts as James Brown,
Al Green, Ike and Tina Turner, Hall & Oates, Donna Summer, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, Aretha
Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Prince, Run D.M.C. and Destiny's
Child during its 35-year run. Moves that "Soul Train" dancers developed spread nationwide.
Don Cornelius started the music and dance show in 1970 in Chicago and served as its host until
1993. It aired in syndication from 1971 until 2006 and spun off an awards show that is still aired.
Cornelius killed himself in 2012. Weaver recalled growing up in New York and making sure to
watch "Soul Train" every Saturday morning, mesmerized by the dance, fashion and music. He
plans to next hire a writer and get music rights. His only timeframe for the stage is "when the story's
right." Weaver, who produced such films as "We're the Millers" and "The Heartbreak Kid," has grown
"Rock of Ages" into an international brand, with a film version, three national tours and productions
of the show in Las Vegas, London, Australia, Toronto, Japan and South Korea. With 35 years of
music on "Soul Train," Weaver has plenty of song possibilities, depending on what the final story
is. But he's hopeful he can build a powerful score. "We had a lot of luck on `Rock,' so hopefully we
have the same karma here," he said.