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Some houses are born bad

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Encore Theatre Company will present "The Haunting of Hill House," directed by Joel Meriwether, on Friday, Oct. 21 and on weekends through Oct. 30. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon shows are at 2:30 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes

Play 'The Haunting of Hill House' begins Friday in MJ

Timed just right for the Halloween season, veteran director Joel Meriwether will present "The Haunting of Hill House" starting this weekend in Mt. Juliet at the Encore Theatre located at 6978 Lebanon Road.

The scary classic, written by Shirley Jackson, will take to the stage starting today (Friday, Oct. 21) through Oct. 30, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

"I just love scary," Meriwether said. "The first time I directed this show was in 1999 at the former jail for the criminally insane, off Church Street in downtown Nashville. The building was haunted and our production, in a converted auditorium, did not sit well with the spirits in that building. And with this production, we have expounded on the scary with a larger budget and with a much larger stage."

Eleanor Vance (played by Rachel Lynn Sweeney, making her Tennessee stage debut) is a shy young woman who has lived as a recluse caring for her demanding invalid mother; Theodora (Amy McManus), a flamboyant, bohemian, possibly lesbian artist; and Luke Sanderson (Matt Brown), is the young playboy heir to Hill House, and who is host to the others.

Dr. Montague (veteran actor Doug Allen) hopes to find scientific evidence of the existence of the supernatural. He rents Hill House for a summer and invites as his guests several people whom he has chosen because of their past experience with paranormal events. Of these, only Eleanor and Theodora accept. Eleanor travels to the house, where she and Theodora live in isolation with Montague and Luke.

Mrs. Dudley (Linda Patrick) is the caretaker of Hill House who refuses to stay near the house at night. The four overnight visitors begin to form friendships as Dr. Montague explains the building's history, which encompasses suicide and other violent deaths.

Meriwether noted paranormal activity begins to stir the house, like unseen noises and ghost, as well as other unexplained events.

Eleanor may be losing touch with reality, and the narrative implies that at least some of what Eleanor witnesses may be products of her imagination. Another implied possibility is that Eleanor possesses a subconscious telekinetic ability that is itself the cause of many of the disturbances experienced by her and other members of the investigative team (which might indicate there is no ghost in the house at all). This possibility is suggested especially by references early in the novel to Eleanor's childhood memories about episodes of a poltergeist-like entity that seemed to involve mainly her.

Two, including the headmaster of a school, spend the weekend to invistigate and provide a little comic relief to the play.

"I am so thrilled to be working with this cast," said Meriwether. "Most of whom are new to Encore and two of them are making their theatrical debuts. We are having such a good time, and we are looking forward to making our audiences jump in their seats."

Tickets for "The Haunting of Hill House" can be purchased at the door on the evening of the performance; reserved by calling the Encore ticket line at (615) 598-8950 or through Prices are $15 adults, $12 seniors, and $10 students; not recommended for children under the age of 13.

Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at

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