Adam Markovitz
April 06, 2012 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Stephen King is tackling a challenge even more fraught with danger than killer clowns or undead pets: musical theater. The best-selling author (and former EW columnist) has written the book for a new musical, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, due to premiere on April 11 at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. Featuring songs by rocker John Mellencamp and musical production by T Bone Burnett, the Southern Gothic tale explores the legacy of a lethal tragedy in small-town Mississippi.

Though the play stars Broadway vets Shuler Hensley, Emily Skinner, and American Idol runner-up Justin Guarini, don’t expect typical show tunes. ”We wanted to do a musical that was homey, folksy, with a bluesy roots feel,” King tells EW via email. ”The last thing we wanted was a Phantom of the Opera or Cats vibe.”

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