Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

Owen22
Broadway Legend
joined:2/24/11
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/3/12 at 09:22am
So I'm down here in Atlanta to see what may be the worst Tier 1 professional theatre production I have ever witnessed. Well, not the production, the values, stagecraft, set and F/X were exquisite. I would well believe there was commercial producer money in this show (or something) cause it looks expensive and the money is on the stage. Gorgeous set. Horrible writing.

And it isn't just the banal songs that stop the show each and every time, songs that don't build plot or character, songs that don't even adhere to situation. I almost expected that from John Mellencamp, a pop/rock song writer who has never written for the stage. But the book is so horrendous, so just plain stupid it hurts (as Stephen King is one of my favorite writers ever). Not that he has ever written for the musical stage either, but he's written screenplays, he should know something about structural form. Oh my god it was bad. The book is at once convoluted and overly simplified. There are ghosts for no reason, There is a literal deux et machina (a device I hate anyway) in the form of a Devil creature. There is a plot point at the end that nullifies the reason for ghosts or a deux et machina Devil creature. I would say it needed a stronger director who was not intimidated by the reputation of the writers to say "This is sh*t, please rewrite three quarters of the show", but I'm not even sure Mathew Warchus or Jack O'Brien would have made a difference. Beautiful set though.



Updated On: 5/3/12 at 09:22 AM
themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/3/12 at 09:55am

Cool story, bro.
CHURCH DOOR TOUCAN GAY MARKETING PUPPIES MUSICAL THEATER STAPLES PERIOD CUM OIL
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/3/12 at 10:26am
Deus ex machina
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
shomeika
Stand-by
joined:6/24/08
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/3/12 at 10:54am
I've seen the show twice, I enjoyed it quite a bit. it's definitely a work in progress: i.e. in development. The ending needs a major fix (the bar scene), and then there is just a little too much jumping off the cliff, lol. And the little boy. Oh my.

I think there is some major potential there. I'm sure they will work out the kinks after it closes (as they did with Aida, SisterAct, Color Purple, etc).

Clint. Atlanta,GA
Playbilly
Broadway Legend
joined:3/30/12
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/3/12 at 03:22pm
Totally agree. Quite a disappointment. WHen the Big Mystery was revealed, I just couldn't believe how lame it was. And the fix (no spoiler) was so obvious...execpet to King, I guess. Even with a major (needed) re-write, it's still a "why?" production.
"Through The Sacrifice You Made, We Can't Believe The Price You Paid..For Love!"
shomeika
Stand-by
joined:6/24/08
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/3/12 at 04:35pm
I think the music is breathtaking....(hence the reason I went to see the show twice so far)...although there is some definite "fixing" needed, I think there is much potential here!
Clint. Atlanta,GA
songanddanceman2
Broadway Legend
joined:8/31/06
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/3/12 at 08:29pm
Shame, i had high hopes for this, the reviews are very mixed, some love it, some hate it.

Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
Updated On: 5/3/12 at 08:29 PM
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/3/12 at 09:07pm
Judging from the clips, I think it's the kind of score, anyway, that will divide audiences and that can't be helped. But it does sound like the story (yes, I read a spoiler filled synopsis) needs a lot of work still.
theaterdrew
Stand-by
joined:9/4/10
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/6/12 at 02:34pm
Saw the Saturday matinee and stayed for the talk back. I generally enjoyed the show but agree with the Times reviewer that the pieces in the end don't cohere. I think some of the criticism has been exaggerated, however, and that the show can find an audience with (or maybe even without) a re-write to the book. The guy sitting next to me turned to me after the show and said "good play!" In earlier press, Mellencamp and King disavowed a desire to take it to Broadway, but the AD who moderated the talk back made it clear they (at least the cast and crew) are hoping that it will.

Playbilly, I'm curious what you think the obvious fix is for "the secret?" What I kept thinking was that [[[[SPOILER]]]] they should have been fighting about whether to jump when young Joe startles them and they fall over. That would make much more sense about why Joe is so agonized and would have lied about what happened. And also gives the ghosts more of a reason to be hanging around the cabin, together.[[[[END SPOILER]]]]

Some of other problems I had were
-I didn't buy the actress playing Anna as a femme fatale, and it was crucial to the beginning of the story that we really get how she ramps up the brothers' rivalry, so the penultimate scene felt like a pay-off of the first scene. This was partially the failing of the actress, and partially the book. I think it hurt the whole first act.
-The story relied too much on the mother to tell us the father was conflicted.
-The set plus projections were too much. Get rid of the projected words.
-Not sure the "wise old black guy" tending the bar also needed to be the caretaker at the cabin. Was the point that Joe felt somehow responsible for his death, or for him being blamed for the events at the cabin? It just wasn't substantial enough.

I liked most of the music and didn't care if it followed the conventions of musical theater. The three Broadway vets in the cast (Hensley, Skinner, Guarini) were all excellent, as was Kate Ferber as Jenna. I don't know that I would see it again if it ends up on Broadway, but like I said, I think there is definitely an audience for a piece like this. There was a GQ profile that called it a "man's man musical" or something like that, and I think I could, for example, convince my father who has zero interest in musical theater to go. The main hurdle may be getting that audience to pay the price of Broadway tickets.



Playbilly
Broadway Legend
joined:3/30/12
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/6/12 at 10:57pm
Drew, the better (((spoiler alert))) story fix would have been that the younger brother pushed the girl over the cliff, or even his brother. THAT might give someone some guilt. Just viewing the couple falling/brother forcing girl over the edge was hardly dramatic. And, why did the boy jump over the edge at the top of the show?

So, so many book problems. Afraid this show won't get much farther without a lot of work.

"Through The Sacrifice You Made, We Can't Believe The Price You Paid..For Love!"
Updated On: 5/6/12 at 10:57 PM
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/6/12 at 11:37pm
I saw it a couple of weeks ago. I made a conscious decision when I went in that I had paid full price for my seat and I was going to go into the theater and I was going to watch the show on its own terms and I was NOT going to fret about whether or not the show was going to go to Broadway, whether or not it was good enough for NYC, what the big "important" critics like Brantley might say (not that he makes any sense most of the time, anyway) or wonder just who they think the audience is for the show and all the other stupid, extraneous things people often get bogged down on. I just wanted to see some theater.

I decided I was going to Be. There. Then.

I have to say I kinda loved the show for what it is. It has an absolutely gorgeous set and atmospherics. I thought the acting and singing were fine. I loved being in Atlanta and listening to Southern accents on stage. I really liked the music, but I have a fondness for driving blues rhythms and crotch-based devil's music. It was nice to hear it coming from the stage of a legit theater. It was great to see Emily Skinner as a sort of pulled tight woman of a certain age in the New South. I have now seen Justin Guarini play a virginal Spaniard and a trashy redneck in two different musicals and I am now a true believer that he is the real deal.

As for the book, well, I haven't read a TON of Stephen King, but what I have read left me well-prepared for what I saw on stage. I don't think of him as somebody I would read if I were looking for narrative coherence and every single thing of his I've ever read telegraphed the ending miles before the arrival. All of my exposure to him has lead me to believe that it's about the journey and not the destination.

I really liked going on the journey of "Ghost Brothers..." It was a-ok by me that the songs expanded on the feelings and emotions of the scenes and didn't explicitly serve the forward momentum of the book. I liked the Hitchcockian twinning of certain characters. I like the sense of eeriness. At times it looked like Sleep No More on a proscenium stage. I liked that Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner got name checked. I left the theater with a feeling of fulfillment at having seen a satisfying night of musical theatre in Atlanta.

I am really glad I saw "Ghost Brothers"; if it got recorded, I would definitely buy it. The Alliance should be very proud of their accomplishment. They put on a musical that has an original story and original songs with a pretty big cast and a kick ass band. I definitely got my money's worth.

yes, you
Updated On: 5/6/12 at 11:37 PM
perfectliar
Broadway Star
joined:7/1/04
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/7/12 at 01:33am
What the hell is "crotch-based devil's music?"
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/7/12 at 02:04am
"In earlier press, Mellencamp and King disavowed a desire to take it to Broadway, but the AD who moderated the talk back made it clear they (at least the cast and crew) are hoping that it will. "

Isn't this common now? When I saw Tales of the City *every* interview went on about how they weren't worried about any Broadway chance, etc, but it was clear that on some level they were.
theaterdrew
Stand-by
joined:9/4/10
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Posted: 5/7/12 at 08:14am
I haven't heard about any commercial producers being involved with the show, and Mellencamp has said his goal was to create something that could be produced at a local/regional level because he felt that such audiences would connect with the rusticity of it all. That complex set belies both of those comments, and it's certainly possible they were doing some ego-protecting until they saw what reaction it got.

FindgNamo, I appreciated your approach. I was drawn to this because of T-Bone, and if you aren't into the blues/bluegrass/roots style, maybe then you'd call it "bland."

Updated On: 5/7/12 at 08:14 AM