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Author Topic: "Of Monsters & Mellencamp" - The Tennessean review  (Read 3965 times)
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« on: October 18, 2013, 12:51:37 pm »

Of Monsters and Mellencamp
Amy Stumpfl, theater reviewer for The Tennessean

Halloween is a couple of weeks off, but Ryman Auditorium played host to a good old-fashioned ghost story on Wednesday night, as the much-anticipated tour of Southern Gothic musical “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” hit Nashville.

A unique theatrical collaboration with libretto by Stephen King, music and lyrics by John Mellencamp and musical direction by T-Bone Burnett, “Ghost Brothers” offers a cautionary tale of sibling rivalry and revenge that spans 40 years.

It’s an interesting concept, but “Ghost Brothers” is far from traditional musical theater fare. At times, it feels more like an old-time radio play — a format that works especially well in the historic Ryman. With its stripped-down approach to storytelling, offbeat narration (featuring the lively Zydeco Cowboy and a devilish entity known as “The Shape”) and a stellar four-piece band, there’s a timeless quality to “Ghost Brothers.” As one character observes: “It ain’t then, and it ain’t now.” It just is.

The story is a bit uneven, but fans are sure to recognize King’s distinctive voice. Still, it’s Mellencamp’s bluesy, roots-tinged score that makes “Ghost Brothers” so engaging. And while his songs don’t necessarily advance the narrative, they do provide a sort of loose commentary, defining characters and developing themes. Highlights include “That’s Who I Am,” “Tear This Cabin Down,” “Away From This World” and “Truth.”

The 15-member ensemble provides many memorable moments. Canadian film star Bruce Greenwood (who recently reprised his role as Captain Christopher Pike in “Star Trek Into Darkness”) offers a strong moral compass as patriarch Joe McCandless. And Broadway’s Emily Skinner brings depth to the role of Monique.

“Ghost Brothers” continues its tour through Nov. 6. Meanwhile, local fans can check out the deluxe edition soundtrack — featuring Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow — available at

Ghost Brothers at The Ryman: Emily Skinner, left in front, and Bruce Greenwood; Kate Ferber, left in background, Peter Albrink, Travis Smith, Eric Moore, Joe Tippett. Photo credit: Harry Sandler
« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 02:27:07 pm by mitch1982 » Logged
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