Theatre Focus: Grave Lullaby @ the Magnetic Theatre October 12 – 28

Halloween Season is here!

And there is no better place to go on a date than somewhere to scare the bejesus out of them!

And yeah sure, you can pay to go to a haunted house and be scared by people jumping out of closets or darkened hallways.  You can even go to a corn maze and be afraid you will be trapped until spring by the tall walls of stalks.  You can even go to the movie theatre and jump in your seat every time a crescendo in the soundtrack hits a dramatic reveal of a murder or the killer chasing the scared teenagers.

It’s that ghostly time of year again and the The Magnetic Theatre has produced a hauntingly, dramatic tragedy called Grave Lullaby to ring in the fall season.




Jamieson Ridenhour – photo courtesy of UNC Asheville website.


After last year’s critically acclaimed TERRY TEMPEST: The Final Interview, Asheville writer/director Jamieson Ridenhour returns to the Magnetic with his latest GRAVE LULLABY.

Jamie has been teaching writing and literature for 18 years. In addition to publishing scholarly articles on Dickens, LeFanu, and contemporary vampire film, Ridenhour edited the Valancourt edition of Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla (2009) and wrote a book-length study of urban Gothic fiction, In Darkest London (Scarecrow, 2014).

Jamie is also the creator/writer/producer of the popular (and creepy) horror/suspense podcast Palimpsest, which is currently in its second season, and is available on every podcast platform.

During Asheville Date Night Guide’s interview with the cast and crew of GRAVE LULLABY Jamieson Ridenhour revealed that his latest production came from – a true story. When Jamieson was pursuing his PhD and he and his wife moved into a new home in Columbia, South Carolina.  They happened upon while while digging in their backyard an infant tombstone dated in the 1800s.

This is the seed that began Grave Lullaby which later became a National Finalist for the 2013 Kennedy Center ACTF David Cohen Play-writing Award.


The cast includes some of the greats of the local Asheville theatre scene –

Carrie Kimbrell Kimzey


Adam Christopher Lentini


Serena Dotson-Smith


Murphy Funkhouser Capps


Rodney Smith

– and not pictured is Jason Williams.

And watch the 25 minute immersive 360° interview on stage with the cast of GRAVE LULLABY featuring writer / director Jamieson Ridenhour, Adam Lentini, Serena Dotson-Smith, Murphy Funkhouser Capps, and Rodney Smith – here.


When Mark (Adam) and Kristen (Carrie Kimbrell Kimzey) move into an old house in a new town, it feels like the perfect opportunity to escape their recent tragedy and start afresh. But the new neighbors have their own secrets, and the neighborhood may be as haunted as the James’ own past.

A classic ghost story in the tradition of M.R. James and Peter Straub, with a twist (or two) you will never see coming.


Contributed by Asheville Date Guide co-founder Jenn Gordon

The entire story takes place in an old, decrepit house newly purchased by Kristen and Mark James, a sweet, young couple trying to relocate from their past.

In the wake of their own personal nightmare, Kristen and Mark are hoping that the purchase of fixer-upper home, in an unfamiliar town surrounded by new neighbors will help them move on from the misfortune of losing their first baby.

Early on, one by one, Kristen is visited and welcomed by different neighbors with whom she immediately finds herself confiding in, while piecing together the mysterious nature of her own new home.

It doesn’t take long before Kristen is caught off guard by terrifying voices in the walls, moving cabinets and is suddenly startled by objects falling off shelves.

The story takes a serious turn when Mark unveils a grave stone, from outside under their bedroom window, marking the grave of a 3 day old baby in the late 1800’s.

This is the first of many events that occur that begin to haunt Kristen from deep inside.

With the help of a new friend Lilly, you find yourself solving the mystery of not only the house but who Lilly is and why she is there. Kristen’s own secrecy is haunting her but it allows her to comfort Lilly into revealing her truth.

The audience quickly drawn into the conundrum of Kristen, the hauntings of the house and the people who come to greet her.

The acting is superb. The lead role of Kristen is marvelously played by Carrie Kimbrell Kimzey who instantly wins you over with her humble charm and deep sadness. Her husband Mark, played by Adam Lentini, works tirelessly trying to make her happy again and to provide her with new happy beginning.

Each neighbor you meet is different from the last. First you are introduced to Michelle, who wins you over with her witty personality and snarky remarks. I found my self giggling at her silly, in your face bluntness. She is overwhelmingly nice and insists on calling on some neighborhood teens to help Kristen unpack. This is why Lily enters the story. Lily is an obviously troubled teen who is grateful just to be in a safe home where she gets to help Kristen rearrange furniture, hang pictures and unpack boxes. During this time, Lily’s misfortune becomes apparent.

Throughout the play, you’ll remain eager to find out what happens next and never let your guard down, unexpected horror by moving furniture or creaking doors will take you by surprise.

In the final act, Lily and Kristen become so comfortable with each other that the truth of their pain and sorrow make their way to the stage.


The scariest thing about Grave Lullaby isn’t the theme of secrets, the infant tombstone that inspired it, or the Halloween season that we are in.  It’s that Asheville has a theatre dedicated to local actors, local playwrights which only shows local, original works – and local Asheville sometimes stays away.

GRAVE LULLABY is one of those plays that prompts you to put on your best casual wear and get a ticket ASAP.

And yeah sure, you can pay to go to a haunted house and be scared by people jumping out of closets or darkened hallways.

Or you can go to your local playhouse and support the arts!  And seeing the smile of the person you love sitting beside you when the cast comes out to take a bow is worth all the effort.

Because imagine Asheville without local art and creativity?

Scary thought.

GRAVE LULLABY / written and directed by

Saturdays at 7:30pm

All performances- $18 (+$2 tax and service fee) and buy tickets here.
For more information visit the Magnetic Theatre website.

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