‘Hybrid’ King-Mellencamp musical kicks off tour

MICHAEL CONROY, Associated Press
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Musician John Mellencamp, left, and writer Stephen King at a press preview of the musical "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County" at the Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Musician John Mellencamp, left, and writer Stephen King at a press preview of the musical “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” at the Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A musical production that’s a result of a collaboration between rocker John Mellencamp and horror writer Stephen King is launching a 20-city theatrical tour in Indiana.

“Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” was 13 years in the making as King and Mellencamp worked on it between what the rocker calls their “real jobs.”

The musical’s roots lie in a cabin Mellencamp bought on Lake Monroe in southern Indiana to use as a family retreat. He said he quickly noticed strange occurrences, such as window blinds opening and items moving around. He learned from the previous owners that the cabin was believed to be haunted by two young men who had died there decades before in a quarrel over a girl.

Mellencamp went to King with an idea for a musical play featuring two brothers who are ghosts and haunt the cabin.

“I just kind of went … that’s my sweet spot,” King said.

The unconventional musical, which King describes as a “real hybrid of the musical experience and radio show,” has evolved since the pair conceived the idea. Spoken words drive the story just as they do in a play. The music helps flesh out the characters.

King said the pair met in Florida, New York, Maine and at Mellencamp’s southern Indiana studio to work on the production.

Mellencamp said they don’t have a long-range plan for the show, but both say they never set out to do a traditional Broadway production.

“I don’t have a problem with Broadway, but I do think that a lot of the shows and a lot of the musicals are really, really big. And we wanted to do something that was kind of like ‘Big River,'” King said. “It was a little bit smaller, a little bit grittier, a little bit more down-home America.”

 

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