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 2007.
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.
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County runs through May 13 at the Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff, for tickets and show times visit: 404.733.5000 or www.alliancetheatre.org
Photos by Ashley Staley and C. David Trivino