Several years ago I applied for a job at the public library in Seymour, Indiana. I met a LOT of people during the interview process, including some of the regular patrons (customers), and at some point I brought up the topic of rock star resident John Mellencamp. I said something gushy like, “Maybe I’ll run into him at the grocery store!”
Whoever I was talking with made a face and said, “He’s no saint, you know. We’re proud of him, but he’s no saint.”
Now, years later, after driving down to Bloomington, Indiana last night for the premiere performance of the Midwest tour of “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” that’s kind of how I feel about the show: it’s not perfect, but I’m proud of John Mellencamp (music and lyrics) and Stephen King (libretto) for trying something new while still letting their audiences enjoy their musical and storyelling strengths. I’m glad I paid $65 and drove two hours there and back after work to be with a gazillion other excited fans in the Indiana University Auditorium on opening night of the tour.
Should you go see “Ghost Brothers” when it comes through Indianapolis next week? Well, you know my first answer is always, “Of course you should go see a show that interests you. Go see it and form your own opinion!”
But in this case I’ll add that if you already are a Mellencamp and/or a King fan, then yes, you should definitely go, because the a) the songs are fresh but have that relatable, tormented-yet-honest Mellencamp feel and the singers and instrumental musicians performing them are outstanding. And b) the story has that Ahh-I’m-so-comfortable-no-wait-I’m-in-a-nightmare-no-wait-no-what-oh-awesome feel that Stephen King does so well and it is told in this production by excellent actors.
As a theatre piece “Ghost Brothers” disappointed me a bit. I always hope for a core-shaker when I go to the theatre, but this was merely interesting, not immediately transformational. I’m going to try to figure out why by writing about it at length in another post without worrying about spoilers. After I do that, I’m going to read and respond to two or more other local reviewers that I know blogged about last night’s performance, but first I want to see if I can figure out “what I think” all by myself.
So please check back for Part Two of this review, and in the meantime, if you go see “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” I hope you’ll leave me a courteous comment, too.
I suspect that even though I didn’t join in standing and cheering at the end last night, I will be thinking about this piece for a long time. It is no accident that delayed transformation is one of the themes of “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.”
‘See you at the theatres!
Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com and @IndyTheatre on Twitter.