Sioux City Journal: John Mellencamp, Stephen King Hope To Learn From 'Ghost Brothers' Tour

John Mellencamp, Stephen King hope to learn from 'Ghost Brothers' tour
BRUCE MILLER - Sioux City Journal

There wasn’t a guide to help Stephen King and John Mellencamp write their first musical so, says the latter, “it took us time to figure out what was happening.”

Now, some 15 years later, the two are eager to let others see what they’ve done with “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” an eerie musical about two dead brothers and the impact they had on their family.

The show will be in Sioux City Friday (Nov. 1) at the Orpheum Theatre as a pre-Broadway tryout. Bruce Greenwood and Emily Skinner star in the show. But King’s and Mellencamp’s fingerprints are everywhere on the production. /p>

“We had to write outside ourselves,” Mellencamp says. “I had to write for a teenage kids and females. If I just looked inside myself I figured I could feel what it was like to be the mother who’s being ignored or the kid who doesn’t understand.”

The experiment was fun, he says, “for a pale white American.”

Like King – who shares many traits – Mellencamp doesn’t mind going out of his comfort zone. Too many musicians, he says, listen to record executives who want them to make their next record sound like their last.

“They’re trying to jump through hoops or be a monkey on a string. That’s not me.”

While “Ghost Brothers” had a tryout in Atlanta last year, it didn’t live up to the authors’ expectations, so they decided to take another shot at it. That’s the production coming to Sioux City.

Mellencamp says it’s good for artists to get out of their comfort zones: Sometimes, that’s when the magic happens.

To make sure “Ghost Brothers” approached that, the two called in veteran producer T Bone Burnett and asked for advice. “He and his wife (Oscar-winning writer Callie Khouri) came in and said, ‘This song stinks, move this’ and that helped point us in a direction. We knew we were doing it ass backwards. They just set us straight.”

Now, “Ghost Brothers” is looking for its next incarnation. What King and Mellencamp learn from their 2013 tour could pave the way for a Broadway run.

“Our goal is to make people walk out of the theater and say, ‘Wow!’” Mellencamp says.