Saturday, March 31, 2012

Stephen King, John Mellencamp 'Ghost Brothers' debuts

BY AMANDA POOLE

When John Mellencamp bought a cabin in his home state Indiana in the early 1990s, he probably never guessed it would lead him to creating a musical with one of the most famous horror scribes in history, Stephen King.

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County - a Southern Gothic play based on a real-life love triangle and homicide that happened at Mellencamp’s cabin in the 1950s - opens to previews Wednesday, April 4, at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, Ga.

The New York Times recently reported on the background of the play:

"The younger brother hit the older brother with a fire poker and killed him," Mr. Mellencamp said recently, his voice dropping to a whisper as he explained why he had hardly spent a night at the cabin. When the panicked killer and the girl tried to run, they accidentally drove their car into the lake and drowned.

"I got this call out of the blue from John Mellencamp, saying he wanted to write a play," Stephen King said. "What I always remember was he tuned my guitar while we talked," Mr. King added of their first meeting at Mr. King’s Florida home. "He said, 'I have this idea for a story,' and the idea was a classic, about ghosts in a cabin. And what I really liked is that we could put ghosts and live people in a cabin, and they wouldn’t see each other. Visually, that turned my dials."
12 years later - and after a postponed, Broadway-bound 2008 season - Ghost Brothers is ready to debut. The musical has 19 performers and a 4-piece band- including Dave Roe, Johnny Cash’s old bass player - and the music director is legendary musician/producer T Bone Burnett.

Directed by Susan V. Booth, the show bounced back and forth in time as the younger sibling of the “ghost brothers” tries to prevent his own two sons from entering the same deadly fate. King and Mellencamp’s collaboration is such that the songs are stand-alone features that do not move the story forward. Also, the show will feature signature King gore, and Mellencamp-esque anthems (albeit dark ones).

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County officially opens April 11 and runs through May 13.

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