COURTESY  PHOTORocker John Mellencamp wrote the score to “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

COURTESY PHOTORocker John Mellencamp wrote the score to “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

John Mellencamp, Stephen King make a new musical

The theatrical production “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” is not easy to classify, says composer and lyricist John Mellencamp, who joined forces on the show with producer T-Bone Burnett and an unusual librettist – horror author Stephen King. It began as a Southern Gothic tale of two squabbling teenage brothers, locked in a haunted cabin by their father where – after visitations from the spirits of other historical dead brothers – they finally learn fraternal unity. But – after spawning an all-star soundtrack last year — it evolved into the streamlined version that hits The City this weekend, starring Billy Burke and Gina Gershon as parents Joe and Monique McCandless. Mellencamp elaborates on his pet project.

Are you coming to San Francisco for the two-night run?

I know that I’m going to be at the first show. It just depends on how much work Steve and I think needs to still be done on it. We’re still looking at it like, “Would it make it better if we do this?” Because this thing has gone through a lot of changes.

Your initial plan was to have the songs represent several generations of American music, right?

Yes. But the songs are very specific now, a very specific type and style. And the characters have evolved tremendously. The first showing of this was done in Atlanta a few years ago, and it was presented as a traditional Broadway show. And Steve and I wanted to kill ourselves. So we had to revamp it. Now it’s more of a play with music than a musical.

Do you have a brother?

That’s how I got introduced to musicals, because my older brother was the star, in the ’60s, of all the high school musicals. And of course when your older brother plays the lead role, your parents insist that you go to see “South Pacific,” “Kismet,” you name it. And we had a very ambitious choir director doing very serious stuff in Seymour, Ind. during the ’60s. I was in early junior high, and he was a senior, so I went to many, many musicals. And as I got older, I kept going, because I liked it.

What’s your brother doing now?

He tried to be in a rock band, but he had a Broadway voice. So he was in a group called Pure Jam that made a couple of record on Chess, but they didn’t go anywhere. So my brother Joe is now vice president of a big company. But if we ever get in trouble with the male lead for “Ghost Brothers,” I can always have him play the part. I have confidence that he could do it.

IF YOU GO

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

Where: SHN Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 5-6

Tickets: $57 to $107

Contact: (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com

artsGhost Brothers of Darkland CountyJohn MellencampStephen King

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Jill Bonny, owner of Studio Kazoku tattoo parlor in the Haight, tattoos client Lam Vo on Friday, March 5, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
No one was fighting for tattoo artists, so they started advocating for themselves

Jill Bonny has been tattooing in the Bay Area since 2000. Four… Continue reading

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

At a rally in February, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, left, and Eric Lawson remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after he was pushed to the pavement in San Francisco. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Examiner file photo)
The criminal justice system can’t fix what’s wrong in our community

My 87-year-old mother walks gingerly, slowly, deliberately, one step in front of… Continue reading

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

José Victor Luna and Maria Anabella Ochoa, who cite health reasons for continuing distance learning, say they have been enjoying walking in Golden Gate Park with their daughters Jazmin, a first grader, and Jessica, a third grader. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Some SFUSD families prefer distance learning

Health issues, classroom uncertainties among reasons for staying home

Most Read