The Nashville Scene Says Ghost Brothers of Darkland County Excels On Stage

Check out the recent review of Ghost Brothers by The Nashville Scene!

Fright Night: Ghost Brothers of Darkland County Excels On Stage

POSTED BY  ON THU, OCT 17, 2013 AT 12:30 PM

It wasn’t exactly a dark and stormy night, but a chilly, rainy afternoon put me in just the right mood forGhost Brothers of Darkland County, the musical thriller dreamed up by Stephen King and John Mellencamp and brought to life by music producer T Bone Burnett and director Susan Booth. From listening to the all-star album Burnett recorded of the piece, and my email correspondence with Ms. Booth for a preview in last week’s Scene, I concluded that one CD just wasn’t long enough. Though the album gets an A+ for the recording and the performances, it barely scrapes a D in telling the story; it took me three careful listens to get even a shaky grasp of the ending.

At close to two and a half hours, the stage production of Ghost Brothers is a vast improvement, giving cast and crew room to stretch out and set us straight. Without giving anything away, crucial plot points that were outlined in a rush on the album are revealed plainly on the stage, and in a much more comprehensible order….

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The Indy Star says John Mellencamp-Stephen King collaboration packs an emotional wallop

Check out this amazing review of the “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” live show by!

John Mellencamp-Stephen King collaboration packs an emotional wallop

‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County’ tour will visit Clowes Hall

Written by David Lindquist
Eric Moore (from left), Kate Ferber, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Albrink and Travis Smith perform the song ‘What Kind of Man Am I’ during a ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County’ rehearsal in Bloomington. / Matt Kryger / The Star

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — John Mellencamp and Stephen King say “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” isn’t ready for Broadway, but their theatrical production can’t get much better than the version that debuted Thursday at IU Auditorium.

When the “Ghost Brothers” tour visits Clowes Hall on Oct. 18, attendees will experience a show that resembles an old-school radio play. Conventional acting and choreography are parts of the package, but only as accents — an approach that fits Mellencamp’s description of “Ghost Brothers” as a “play with music” rather than a musical.

The Hoosier rock star hasn’t wavered in that description through 13 years of collaboration with best-selling author King. Yet the first staging of “Ghost Brothers,” a production in Atlanta in 2012, featured visible spurts of “blood” and leaps from a stage-prop cliff. Too close to the processed and packaged Great White Way for Mellencamp’s tastes.

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USA Today: ‘Ghost Brothers’ made kin of Mellencamp and King

The heartland icons’ musical launches a tour on Thursday.


John Mellencamp won’t be performing in the new tour of Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, the musical he composed with Stephen King.

Neither, for that matter, will King — though he and Mellencamp did, in one of their early meetings, bond as musicians. “He tuned my guitar,” King recalls. “He said, ‘This thing’s a (expletive) mess.’ ”

In a separate phone interview, Mellencamp confirms this: “It was way out of tune.” He adds, with obvious affection, “Just like Steve’s way out of tune.”

It was more than a decade ago that the rock veteran approached the best-selling author with the concept for Ghost Brothers, a musical (or “a play with music,” as Mellencamp prefers to call it) inspired by actual events in Mellencamp’s home state of Indiana. In the show, which premiered last year at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, two brothers and one young woman lose their lives to a toxic mix of lust and sibling rivalry.

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Ghost Brothers of Darkland County Announces Cast For Tour, With Bruce Greenwood And Emily Skinner And Many More



AEG Live is pleased to announce the touring cast for the southern gothic, supernatural musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, libretto by Stephen King, with music and lyrics by John Mellencamp and musical direction by T Bone Burnett. The show will be appearing in 19 cities throughout the Midwest and Southeast beginning October 10 in Bloomington, IN, and ending November 6 in Grand Rapids, MI. Tickets are on sale now at

This extraordinary collaboration, 13 years in the making, is a haunting tale of fraternal love, lust, jealousy and revenge, which will be performed by an ensemble cast of 15 actors and a four-piece live band. The macabre story will feature a chorus of actors and singers, and musicians featuring members of Mellencamp’s band. The staging of Ghost Brothers will be an amalgam of different styles – both old fashioned, resembling in many ways an old-style radio show, and yet, modern and unique in its interactive use of actors, singers and musicians in order to move the Ghost Brothers story forward incorporating a mix of storytelling, music and singing.

The show stars actor Bruce Greenwood as the father Joe McCandless. Greenwood, is perhaps best known for his roles as JFK in the film Thirteen Days, Flight and Captain Christopher Pike in the 2009 Star Trek film and its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness. Also starring is Emily Skinner as Joe’s wife, Monique. Skinner is a well-known stage actress who received a Tony Award nomination for Side Show, and has had leading roles on Broadway in Jekyll & Hyde, James Joyce’s The Dead, The Full Monty and Billy Elliot.

Joe and Monique’s sons are the living brothers Frank and Drake McCandless. They are played by Lucas Kavner and Joe Tippett, respectively. Kavner has appeared in projects for Comedy Central, ESPN, VH1, and has performed or workshopped shows at the Kennedy Center, Playwrights Horizons, Atlanitc, Abingdon Theatre, Dixon Place and many more. Tippett most recently did a staged reading in Waterford, CT, as part of the 2013 National Playwrights Conference, as well as one in New York City at Hayden 5’s NoMad Loft. The female love interest of this ensemble, Anna, is played by Kylie Brown, who has recently appeared in Atlanta productions of Hello Dolly and Hair.

The two dead brothers, Jack and Andy McCandless, are played by Peter Albrink and Travis Smith respectively. Albrink starred in the Long Wharf’s version of Sam Shepherd’s Curse of the Starving Class earlier in the year, while Smith, recently played John Carter Cash in the USA Network’s Johnny Cash biopic Ring of Fire, and appears in that network’s series, Necessary Roughness. This ensemble’s female love interest, Jenna, is played by Kate Ferber, whose recent credits include the one-woman show One Child Born: The Music of Laura Nyro.

The Shape, a devil-like character, is played by Jake LaBotz, who is a blues singer-songwriter and has acted in films by Sylvester Stallone and Steve Buscemi. LaBotz has released six of his own albums. The remaining cast members are: Eric Moore, Joe Jung, Rob Lawhon, Gwen Hughes, Jesse Lenat and Zac Ballard. The band on stage features bandleader Andy York on guitar, percussionist Dane Clark, Troye Kinnett on Keyboards and harmonica and upright bassist Jon Gunnell.

The show will be expertly lit by the award-winning Lighting Designer Steven Cohen, who in his 40-plus year career in the music and television industry has worked with the world’s most prominent artists, including: John Mellencamp, Billy Joel ,Elton John, Reba McEntire, Sugarland, Tim McGraw, Lenny Kravitz, Blake Shelton, Justin Timberlake, N’Sync, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, The Eagles, to name a few, and has worked on numerous TV productions for HBO, Showtime, MTV and VH1.

The director of Ghost Brothers is Susan V. Booth, who is currently the artistic director at the Alliance Theatre and directed the play during its Atlanta run in 2012. She has worked at theatres all over the country including La Jolla Playhouse, New York Stage and Film Actors Theatre of Louisville, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens, Court Theatre and many others. The casting director is Laura Stanczyk and the choreographer is Liza Genaro.

“This piece has been on a really long journey,” says Booth. “One of the things it has learned about itself is that it could never fit into existing molds. King, Mellencamp and Burnett don’t fit into existing molds either. So, for the stage production, we had to create a completely new form.”

The play follows the release of the Ghost Brothers of Darkland County album (Concord Records), which came out earlier in the year. The record, produced by musical director Burnett, reflects the wide range of styles and influences required for a work that jumps back and forth across decades. It features original music and lyrics by Mellencamp, along with a stellar cast of guest musicians and actors.

Full tour cast is listed below:

Bruce Greenwood – Joe McCandless

Emily Skinner – Monique McCandless

Joe Tippett – Drake McCandless

Lucas Kavner – Frank McCandless

Kylie Brown – Anna Wicklow

Eric Moore – Dan Coker

Travis Smith – Andy McCandless

Peter Albrink – Jack McCandless

Kate Ferber – Jenna Farrell

Joe Jung – Newt Hoggenbeck/Ensemble

Rob Lawhon – Ensemble

Gwen Hughes – Ensemble

Jake LaBotz – The Shape

Jesse Lenat – The Zydeco Cowboy/Ensemble

Zac Ballard – Young Joe



Andy York – Music Supervision and Arrangements, Band Leader, Guitarist

Dane Clark – Percussion

Jon Gunnell – Upright Bass

Troye Kinnett – Keyboards and Harmonica


Full tour dates are below:


10 – Bloomington, IN – Indiana University Auditorium

11 – Louisville, KY – The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts

12 – Knoxville, TN – Knoxville Civic Auditorium

13 – Asheville, NC – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium

16 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium

17 – Evansville, IN – Aiken Theatre at The Centre

18 – Indianapolis, IN – Clowes Memorial Hall

19 – Akron, OH – Akron Civic Theatre

22 – Columbus, OH – Palace Theatre

23 – Bloomington, IN – Indiana University Auditorium

24 – Ft. Wayne, IN – Embassy Theatre

25 – Madison, WI – Overture Hall

26 – Rockford, IL – Coronado Performing Arts Center

29 – Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theatre

31 – Minneapolis, MN – State Theatre



1 – Sioux City, IA – Orpheum Theatre

2 – Ames, IA – Stephens Auditorium

3 – Davenport, IA – Adler Theatre

5 – South Bend, IN – Morris Performing Arts Center

6 – Grand Rapids, MI – DeVos Performance Hall


To purchase tickets for the Ghost Brothers of Darkland County tour, go to:

To purchase the Ghost Brothers of Darkland County album, go to:


Amazon Hardcover Edition:

Amazon Deluxe Version:

Media Mikes Gives Ghost Brothers a 4 out of 5!

Check out the 4 star review of Ghost Brothers of Darkland County by Media Mikes!

CD/DVD Review “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County (Deluxe Edition)”

August 8, 2013 by  Leave a Comment

Stephen King, John Mellencamp, T Bone Burnett

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Number of Discs: 2
Label: Concord Music Group

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” is a very unique release. It comes from the great talented minds of Stephen King, John Mellencamp and T Bone Burnett. It was originally a musical stage performance, which was performed in Atlanta in April of 2012. So what is this actually?

Read on to find out!