John Mellencamp and Stephen King Conjure Ghost Brothers Musical, Materializing in 2009

By Kenneth Jones
February 27, 2008

Horror writer Stephen King and rocker John Mellencamp are collaborating on a new thriller of a musical, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, to premiere in spring 2009 at the Tony Award-honored Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.

"It is John Mellencamp's musical style and it's Stephen King's gothic style, and I just thought it was too cool to pass up," Alliance artistic director Susan V. Booth told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The Mississippi-set show reportedly takes place in 1957 in fictional Lake Belle Reve (a sly reference to Blanche du Bois' past?) and concerns an old legend of the deaths of two brothers and a young girl. Pop music star Mellencamp said the music has a Southern, country feel, with zydeco influences.

In a Rolling Stone interview, Mellencamp said, "If it goes well in Atlanta, then we'll come to Broadway. If it don't go well in Atlanta, we're done."

Mellencamp had the idea for the show and went to King. Booth told the paper that the idea for the musical was inspired by a story Mellencamp (known for the hits "Jack and Diane" and "Hurts So Good") heard when he was a kid.

Peter Askin (Eve Ensler's The Good Body, John Leguizamo's Sexaholix and John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch) will direct.

Both Mellencamp and King are newcomers to the theatre, though King's "Misery" was adapted for the stage (as was "Carrie," as a famous flop musical). His popular mystery-horror novels "Carrie," "The Shining," "Cujo," "The Shawshank Redemption" and more have been adapted into smash films.

Alliance is not afraid of new musicals. It has recently produced the musicals Sister Act, The Women of Brewster Place, The Color Purple and (less recently) the formative version of what would become Aida.

Visit www.alliancetheatre.org.