Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
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|Ghost Brothers of Darkland County|
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County is a musical written by novelist Stephen King with original music written by rock musician John Mellencamp that debuted at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia on April 4, 2012. A hardcover CD/DVD deluxe edition, featuring the musical's libretto as written by King, soundtrack, handwritten lyrics and a mini-documentary about the making of the musical, will be released on June 4, 2013.
The project was first announced by Billboard in 2000. At that time, the title was Mississippi Ghost Brothers. According to King, Mellencamp conceived the plot.
In 2005, Mellencamp said in an interview, "He's got a hundred pages of dialogue, and I've got 15 songs. We have to figure how to cut it all down. We're having our first run-through in New York with actors and actresses to see what the hell it looks like."
In November 2010, Mellencamp provided this update of the musical's progress to the Chicago Tribune:
- "T Bone and I and Stephen King are working on a musical. All the music has been recorded. We had Kris Kristofferson, Neko Case, Elvis Costello, Taj Mahal, all singing different characters’ roles. I wrote all the songs, 17 songs. (T Bone) produced. It sounds like the “Sgt. Pepper” of Americana to me. Forget about the play, just the songs, the way these people sing them. I’m sitting there listening to it and thinking, “Did Rosanne Cash just kill that song or what!” The play is called “Ghost Brothers of Darkling [sic] County,” about two brothers who hate each other. If you could imagine Tennessee Williams meets Stephen King. They’re recording the dialogue now and we’re putting out a record of the entire show before it comes out. Right now, Elvis Costello, Meg Ryan, Kris Kristofferson and Matthew McConaughey are doing table readings like an old radio play. So you’ll get all the dialogue, all the sound effects, and all the songs sung by different people so you can follow the story. The CD will come out ahead of time. So many people are involved, it’s taken a long time. But we don’t have to worry about money or record companies – it’s our own money we’re putting into it, so we said, let’s just make something beautiful."
Opening night is April 11, 2012. The musical will be directed by Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan V. Booth, with musical direction by T Bone Burnett. The cast of the upcoming production is led by Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley (Young Frankenstein, Oklahoma, Sweet and Sad) and Tony Award nominee Emily Skinner (Billy Elliot, Side Show, James Joyce's The Dead), and includes Justin Guarini ("American Idol," American Idiot, Women on the Verge…), blues musician and actor Jake La Botz, Lucas Kavner (Completeness, The Blue Flower), Kate Ferber (One Child Born: the Music of Laura Nyro), Christopher Morgan (Gut Bucket Blues) and country musician Dale Watson. Completing the cast are Peter Albrink, Kylie Brown, Lori Beth Edgeman, Gwen Hughes, Joe Jung, Joe Knezevich, Rob Lawhon, Royce Mann, Travis Smith, and Jeremy Aggers. Also, Russell Cook (Little Country Giants), Stephanie Laubscher, Joseph Signa, and DeWayne Woods. Also featuring the blood effects of Joseph Jefferson Award winning special effects artist Steve Tolin of Tolin FX, most notable for his international work on Martin McDonagh's, The Lieutenant of Inishmore 
King and Mellencamp sought a regional theater to stage the show, and decided an Atlanta location offered unique advantages. “We wanted a place that was cosmopolitan but not out of touch with country roots. Atlanta seemed like the middle of the bulls-eye,” King said at a press conference for the musical on December 15, 2011. “You know that song, ‘If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere?’ That’s how I feel about Atlanta and this show.”
Regarding the plot, Mellencamp says, "I can tell what it's not going to be like: It won't be Jack and Diane meets Cujo. He's already written the story -- it's very beautiful, more like The Green Mile. It's an American story about an American family. Some of the characters are 100 years old, some are 15. So that will give me the opportunity to write for each character in a different style. I ain't writing a bunch of rock songs."
In a later interview he said, "[It's about] two brothers; they're 19 years old or 20, maybe 18 or 21, who are very competitive and dislike each other immensely. The father takes them to the family vacation place, a cabin that the boys hadn't been to since they were kids. What has happened is that the father had two older brothers who hated each other and killed each other in that cabin There's a confederacy of ghosts who also live in this house. The older [dead] brothers are there, and they speak to the audience, and they sing to the audience. That's all I want to say, except through this family vacation, many things are learned about the family, and many interesting songs are sung."
Official production synopsis: "In the tiny town of Lake Belle Reve, Mississippi in 1967, a terrible tragedy took the lives of two brothers and a beautiful young girl. During the next forty years, the events of that night became the stuff of local legend. But legend is often just another word for lie. Joe McCandless knows what really happened; he saw it all. The question is whether or not he can bring himself to tell the truth in time to save his own troubled sons, and whether the ghosts left behind by an act of violence will help him – or tear the McCandless family apart forever."
The songs Mellencamp wrote for the production are:
That's Who I Am
So Goddamn Smart
How Many Days
And You Are Blind
What's Going On Here?
My Name is Joe
Tear This Cabin Down
Lounging Around in Heaven
And Your Days are Gone
On Belle Reve Time
Put Me in the Ground
What Kind of Man Am I?
Away From This World
A Rose for Poor Anna
Cut during previews
The End is Here
Mellencamp said in 2002, "I plan to have every person sing from their generation. This is what I'm thinking right now, but it may not work out this way. When the 18-year-old sings, he'll be rapping at you. When the people in their 70s are singing, they'll be singing in the style of Broadway or the style of Frank Sinatra or country. I intend to cover any type of music that Americans have invented." Mellencamp did not wind up following this format, as all the songs in the final production are performed in a folk/rock style.
|Ghost Brothers of Darkland County|
|Soundtrack album by Various Artists|
|Released||June 4, 2013|
|Producer||T Bone Burnett|
Album release 
A CD/DVD deluxe edition, featuring the dialog, soundtrack, handwritten lyrics and a mini-documentary about the making of the musical, will be released on June 4, 2013. The soundtrack contains other artists, such as Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Taj Mahal and Rosanne Cash, performing the songs Mellencamp wrote. The album was produced by T-Bone Burnett.
Soundtrack song list (the performer(s) of each track is listed next to the title. This list differs slightly from the songs performed at the Atlanta production in the spring of 2012):
"That's Me," Elvis Costello
"That's Who I Am," Neko Case
"So Goddamn Smart," Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin, Sheryl Crow
"Wrong, Wrong, Wrong About Me," Elvis Costello
"Brotherly Love," Ryan Bingham, Will Dailey
"How Many Days," Kris Kristofferson
"You Are Blind," Ryan Bingham
"Home Again," Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin, Taj Mahal
"What's Going On Here," Rosanne Cash
"My Name Is Joe," Clyde Mulroney
"Tear This Cabin Down," Taj Mahal
"And Your Days Are Gone," Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin
"Jukin'," Sheryl Crow
"What Kind of Man Am I," Kris Kristofferson, Phil Alvin, Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, Taj Mahal
"So Goddamn Good," Phil Alvin, Dave Alvin, Sheryl Crow
"Away From This World," Sheryl Crow
"Truth," John Mellencamp
All songs written by John Mellencamp.
Ryan D'Agostino of Esquire Magazine sat in on a New York rehearsal of "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County" in the fall of 2007 and had this to say in his review: "Musicals aren't usually a guy thing. This one, though, is not only tolerable, it's good. It may be the first-ever musical written by men for men. There's no orchestra, just two twangy acoustic guitars, an accordion, and a fiddle. The songs are both haunting and all-American."
- Hetrick, Adam (March 31, 2011). "Stephen King-John Mellencamp Musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County Will Materialize in Atlanta". playbill.com. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
- Hetrick, Adam (November 9, 2011). "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County Musical to Star Shuler Hensley, Emily Skinner and Justin Guarini". playbill.com. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
- "Stephen King's Down-Home Nightmare". American Theatre. April 2012.
- "King, Mellencamp stage musical in Midtown". Neighbor Newspapers. April 18, 2000.
- "John Mellencamp to speak at IUB commencement" (Press release). Indiana University. April 18, 2000.
- "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County Songs". ovrtur.com. April, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
- "John Mellencamp's Musical With Stephen King Nearing Completion". Rolling Stone. 2012-11-14. Retrieved 2012-11-14.
- "Elvis Costello, Neko Case Join Stephen King/John Mellencamp Musical | News". Pitchfork. January 4, 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- "John Mellencamp - News - 527". Mellencamp.com. Retrieved 2012-01-21.[not in citation given]
- "No. 88: 'Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,' a Musical for Men". Esquire. 2007-09-18. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- Official site
- "News 2000: Exclusive: Mellencamp, Stephen King Developing Musical". Liljas-library.com.
- "News - The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County Fox reports about Ghost Brothers" Liljas-Library.com. December 27, 2011
- "Work Progresses on John Mellencamp-Stephen King Musical Darkland County". Playbill.com. 3 January 2006.
- "Interview - Stephen King part 3". Liljas-library.com. January 18, 2007.