Atlanta's ALLIANCE THEATRE launches its world premiere of Stephen King and John Mellencamp's new blues and rock ghost musical tonight, April 11. The show plays now through May 13. King, Mellencamp, director Susan V. Booth and producer T Bone Burnett recently spoke at a press conference about the process of creating the musical.
King said that Mellencamp suggested an idea he'd heard in Indiana about two brothers who died and wanted to create a musical in which, "the ghosts would be there but the people wouldn't know, and the audience would." King said he wrote up a "treatment" in three weeks.
"I wanted to try something that was a little bit risky and something that was outside my comfort zone," King said. "For this show, we wanted a place that was cosmopolitan but not out of touch with country roots, and Atlanta looked to me like the middle of the bullseye."
The show has been in the works for 12 years, three or four of those in talks with Alliance. Described as a "Southern, gothic musical fraught with mystery, tragedy, and phantoms of the past, along with a roots and blues-tinged score," on the company's website, the show will be directed by Alliance Artistic Director Susan V. Booth, with musical direction provided by producer T Bone Burnett.
"We're really fortunate that we have an audience that's gone on a journey with us about new American musicals—that's really smart and receptive to that," Booth said. "Atlanta has an opportunity to introduce a major, new American musical into the cannon."
In the tiny town of Delight, 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.
Read more about the show and watch a clip from the press conference on Alliance's website here.
The band, including many members from Mellencamp's own group, includes Dane Clark (Percussion & Acoustic Guitar), Troye Kinnett (Keyboardist), Dave Roe (Upright Bass), Andy York (Band Leader, Guitarist, Vocal Arranger, Associate Musical Director).
Ghost Brothers' creative team includes Todd Rosenthal (Scenic Designer), Clay Benning (Sound Designer), Susan E Mickey (Costume Designer), Robert Wierzel (Lighting Designer), Adam Larsen (Projection Designer), Scot J. Mann and Kelly Martin (Fight Choreography) and Steve Tolin (Special Effects Designer).
The cast includes Jeremy Aggers (Ensemble/US Frank McCandless), Peter Albrink (Jack McCandless), Kylie Brown (Anna Wicklow), Russell Cook (US Male Ensemble), Lori Beth Edgeman (Ensemble/US Anna Wicklow & Jenna), Kate Ferber (Jenna), Justin Guarini (Drake McCandless), Shuler Hensley (Joe McCandless), Gwen Hughes (Ensemble/US Monique McCandless), Joe Jung (Newt/Ensemble/US The Shape), Lucas Kavner (Frank McCandless), Joe Knezevich (Ensemble, US Drake McCandless & Newt), Jake La Botz (The Shape), Stephanie Laubscher (US Female Ensemble), Rob Lawhon (Ensemble/US Andy McCandless & Zydeco Cowboy), Royce Mann (Young Joe), Christopher L. Morgan (Dan Coker), Joseph Signa (US Young Joe), Emily Skinner (Monique McCandless), Travis Smith (Andy McCandless), Dale Watson (Zydeco Cowboy/Ensemble/US Joe McCandless), DeWaye Woods (US Male Ensemble) and Ryan Wotherspoon (Ensemble/US Jack McCandless).