Two exciting new adventures came my way, first I am writing my inaugural
piece for the The Backstage Beat and second I got a chance to meet the maker of
scary dreams Stephen King and get a book signed.
All this came together on opening night of Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
at the Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff on April 12, 2012. This show has been
the most anticipated premiere of the year as it merges the tales of Stephen King
with the music and lyrics of rocker John Mellencamp.
The buzz was in the air as the red carpet hosted celebrities arriving for the
big night. When Stephen King came through he admitted that he was a “bit
nervous”. When asked to why folks should check out this show, King slyly replied
because “it’s a good story and John’s music is good”. Rocker John Mellencamp was
all smiles as he was accompanied by the glamorous actress Meg Ryan.
Spotted in the crowd were sports great Charles Barkley, actress Kim Fields,
and playwright Pearl Cleage. Local theatre support came from the attendance of
Actor’s Express Freddie Ashley and Aurora Theatre’s Al Stilo.
Ghost Brothers of Darkland is a story of what makes urban legends spicy. In
the opening scene you are taken to a night when two brothers in a feud over a
blond beauty bring out the worst of each other, lust, betrayal, and envy. This
battle tragically ends in a trio of deaths witnessed by their younger brother
Joe (Royce Mann).
Now fast forward from 1967 to 2007 and an adult Joe’s (Shuler Hensley) boys’
Frank (Lucas Kavner) and Drake (Justin Guarini) fall into the same dilemma as
they fall for the same girl Anna Wicklow (Kylie Brown).
However the kicker is that lurking in the shadow are Joe’s late brother’s
ghost Jack (Peter Albrink) and Andy (Travis Smith) with their vixen love
interest Jenna (Kate Ferber) that have haunt the cabin Joe stands in present day
All is muddied when these unsuspecting souls are taunted from the man
downstairs the devil himself in malevolent character the Shape (Jake La Botz).
Not to despair a voice of reason chimes in as the man from upstairs Dan Coker
(Christopher L. Morgan) throws in his two cents.
This production quality is outstanding as there is a seamless mix of
multimedia, staging effects, and a multilevel set design.
Mellencamp’s sounds serve as homage to the rockabilly Johnny Cash with a spin
of good rock and roll flair. This story has a multitude of twist and turns with
a little of Stephen King’s naughty unexpected horror thrown in.
Young Royce Mann is a stand out as he brings to the character the
vulnerability of youth facing ugly fate of life’s tragedies.
Led by Tony Award® Winner Shuler Hensley (Young Frankenstein, Tarzan,
Oklahoma!) this is the must see show of the year and will give you bragging
rights that you saw it first before it went on to Broadway. Ghost Brothers of
Darkland County is surely on its way for a Tony Award® nomination and win.
Do what you can to check out this show, if not you will be haunted that you missed it.