by J.D. Rhoades
Recently, the publishing news website Galleycat reported that multi-million-bestselling novelist Stephen King and legacy rocker John Mellencamp had teamed up to write a musical. The show, titled Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, “is based on the real 1957 deaths of two brothers and a young girl. Mellencamp is in charge of the ‘roots and blues-tinged score.’ ”
Well, you know, why not? I mean, if U2 can make a horrendously expensive and insanely hazardous Broadway show based on Spider-Man, who’s to say King and Mellencamp can’t make a major hit? They’ve even played together before:
(This is, apparently, the kind of cool shit you get to do when you’re Stephen King).
Admittedly, “the real 1957 deaths of two brothers and a young girl” does not sound like the kind of subject matter to make for toe-tappin’ musical theater, but whern you think about it, there’s a lot of dark stuff and killing in musicals. Look at Porgy and Bess. Look at West Side Story. Hell, look at Lion King (so I don’t have to.)
Musicals are huge these days. A quick glance at last years offerings shows that there were musicals based on The Addams Family (with Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Mortica, because apparently there is a law on Broadway that Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth must be employed at all times); Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown; and, (Lord give me strength) Love Story. I guess if you’re trying to get that all important tourist dollar into your theater on the Great White Way, you just can’t count on packin’ ’em in with Long Day’s Journey Into Night or The Cherry Orchard, unless you set them to music.
Which of course, raises the question: why shouldn’t we jump on this bandwagon? We’ve got some musicians in our midst, and I sing a little. How about So Close the Hand of Death–The Musical, featuring a show stopping rendition by Hugh Jackman of “The Great Pretender”? Or Zoe, we could always do Charlie-The Charlie Fox Musical (“kinda young, kinda wow”!)
The possibilities are endless. Maybe when Mellencamp and King get their show up and running, I can get Mellencamp to pen a couple of tunes for the musical version of Lawyers, Guns and Money:
(The lights come up on the southern town of Blainesville, a once prosperous but now fading mill town. Enter ANDY COLE, stage right He sings to the tune of Melencamp’s “Small Town”):
ANDY: Well I was born in a small town
Practice law in this small town,
Think I got life knocked in this small town.
But there’s a lot of which I’m unaware….
(Enter local crime boss VOIT FAIRGREEN from stage left):
VOIT: I run the crime in this small town,
Make a lot of cash in this small town,
Know where the bodies are buried in this small town,
Cause I’m the one that put them there…
(Then the Chorus of TOWNSPEOPLE enters):
Well a barmaid’s been murdered and Andy’s been hired
To make sure Voit’s brother Danny gets away
But there’s a lot of secrets hidden in this small town
And when they come out there’ll be hell to pay…
Okay, maybe I’d better leave this stuff to the pros.
So tell me–which of your books–or your favorite books– would you like to see done as a musical? Who’d star? And what woud the score and songs be like? Show tunes? Blues? Rock opera? Most importantly, Where would Nathan Lane or Bebe Neuwirth fit in?
C’mon, kids! Let’s put on a show!