My “Hoodoo Love” Spell

| June 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

I walked into the 10th Avenue Theater eagerly anticipating my experience with a “meet and greet.”  At any one time, this vintage building right off of Broadway, houses several productions including the prestigious and award winning Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company. In the theater world, it is tradition to host a meet and greet where the actors read through their roles together, usually the first time they have met each other, and meet with the director, stage manager and other essential people affiliated with the production.

Mo`olelo is about to stage “Hoodoo Love,” a play by renowned  playwright  Katori  Hall, who has seen several of her plays open on Broadway, including “The Mountaintop,” with Samuel  L. Jackson as Martin Luther King Jr. As I walked in the energy was apparent. Guests were mingling with the cast, director and others until Mo`olelo’s Executive Artistic Director Seema Sueko urged everyone to take a seat so we could go around the room with introductions.

Mo`olelo’s mission is to create, produce and educate and through these aspects broaden the scope of San Diego’s cultural environment by staging socially-conscious theater that provides a voice for diverse and underrepresented populations. In keeping with that mission, various members of the African American community were there to see this first snapshot of “Hoodoo Love,” a play with blues music, set during the depression that deals with a young black woman who falls for a rambling blues man and whips up a potion of hoodoo magic to win his love. Always in the background is the legacy of slavery and the question – how does survival come about.

As I sat quietly watching these talented actors  read their parts and interact with each other for the first time, I was taken back to the first years of Mo`olelo when the mission was first formed and how faithful this theater has stayed to that original concept. Every play has touched on a specific segment of the community, an important cause, or a social issue that brings people of many backgrounds together through the use of theater. The plays have generated dialogues, served as a basis for educational pieces in local schools and provided forums for those who are typically underserved in mainstream American theater.

Yet, all of these lofty ideals would be nothing without the main ingredient, good entertaining professional theater. Audiences walk away with more than just a dose of consciousness-raising, they walk away talking about what a great experience they just had.  Conversations are heard as they leave the theater stimulated by the provocative story and the quality of the acting and directing. It is no wonder that Mo`olelo has recently won national attention including the American Theatre Wing (producers of the Tony Awards) 2011 National Theatre Company grant and the Ivy Bethune Award from Actors Equity Association, as well as numerous others.

“Hoodoo Love” is filled with pathos, comedy, blues music and a story that both entertains and unnerves. It is rich with a cultural legacy, a uniquely American history and a universally human component that makes this play a joy to experience. The production runs at the 10th Ave. Theater from June 7 – July 1 and is usually a sell-out. For more information and tickets visit

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