By Lee Hubbard

“Soul Train was a music television show that began in Chicago in the 1970s and played a pivotal role in shaping black music and culture for decades. Inspired by the popular teen program American Bandstand, Soul Train was the brainchild of Don Cornelius, a black journalist from Chicago who aimed to spotlight Soul Music.”

“In 1970, he launched Soul Train on WCIU-TV as a daily show. Within a year, it transformed into a nationally syndicated program, relocating to Los Angeles in 1972. The show enjoyed a successful 35-year run until it concluded in 2006, featuring countless entertainers and promoting black culture to a wide audience.”

“Now, the musical “Hippest Trip – The Soul Train Musical,” which celebrates Soul Train and its musical influence, is gracing San Francisco’s American Conservatory. This production is a prelude to a Broadway run.”

““After seeing a documentary about Don Cornelius, I was inspired by his journey,” said Dominique Morisseau, a three-time Obie Award winner. “The producers had the same idea and the two found each other. They saw the various plays I have written and been involved with and they realized we should do the play together.” Questlove, the renowned drummer and hip-hop producer from the Roots, joined as a producer. The two-hour musical delves into the behind-the-scenes story of Soul Train’s creation.”

““Every Saturday in the morning, we watched one side of the TV,” said Morisseau. “Now, we are flipping it around, to show you the other side of the show, and all of the people that went into the show.””

“Morisseau, hailing from Detroit, discovered her talent for writing during her college years at the University of Michigan, where she turned to playwriting after facing limited casting opportunities. She gained recognition with her first major production, “Detroit 67,” which explored the Detroit rebellion and was released in 2013. Her subsequent works, “Paradise Blue” and “Skeleton Crew,” continued to focus on Detroit’s history.”

““These plays got a lot of attention with my focus on Detroit,” continued Morrisseau. “People began to see my voice on a larger scale, and since then I have written and produced a lot of plays throughout the country.””

“She also penned “Ain’t Too Proud,” a Broadway hit about the Temptations, which began in San Francisco before heading to New York. Morisseau hopes that, like “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Soul Train” will eventually find its way to Broadway.”

“While dancing and style are central to the play, “Soul Train” goes deeper, addressing the cultural shift in black America and American society. Politics played a role too, with Jesse Jackson making regular appearances on the show. The musical explores the broader impact of Soul Train, leaving the audience to ponder whether its legacy lies in Don Cornelius, the dancers, the performers, or the viewing audience.”

“The musical “Soul Train – The Hippest Trip” by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Kamilah Forbes, will run from September 6 to October 8 at the Toni Rembe Theater, 415 Geary St., San Francisco. Ticket prices range from $25 to $130, subject to change. For more information, call 415-749-2228 or visit”