Stephen King’s musical gets all-star singing cast
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County has been in the works from the horror author and the rock musician for 13 years, ever since Mellencamp discovered that his own cabin in Bloomington, Indiana, was said to be haunted. The story goes, he told Rolling Stone, that back in the 1930s, two brothers fought over a woman there, and one ended up dead. The woman and the other brother fled, but their car crashed into a lake and they drowned.
“I called up Stephen King and told him I wanted to make a musical out of the thing,” Mellencamp. “It’s outside both of our wheelhouses.”
King said he “loved the idea they were brothers, and then years later history repeats itself. Something in that resonated with me deeply.”
They got to work, with King telling the story – it moves between two brothers in similar situations, 30 years apart – and Mellencamp writing the songs, but the process has been slow. “On a creative level we were always in harmony,” said King. “We have the same kinds of interests, same background, small town, regular people kind of thing. Also, the more I worked with him the more amazed I was by his level of talent.”
The show had its first performances in Atlanta in April, where reviews were mixed, ranging from “mesmerising” to criticism of its “sketchy character development, awkward staging and unclear storytelling”.
The songs have now been recorded for a soundtrack, out next March, with contributors including Costello, Crow, Kris Kristofferson and Mellencamp himself. There is also talk about taking the show to Broadway, and turning it into a film. “We were talking about Broadway right away,” King told Rolling Stone. “John believes in reaching for the stars in everything he does … But a lot of Broadway these days is fucking Disneyland. It’s blue-haired ladies from Westchester County. They come in buses and they want to see Aida or the Lion King. It’s almost like an amusement park.”