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He’s not actually a vampire. He just plays one on TV. “True Blood” star Nelsan Ellis, a Juilliard graduate does have a life outside the hit TV show. He’s making the best of it these days by directing “Hoodoo Love” a play set in Memphis that will debut at Chicago’s Athenaeum Theatre on September 27th. The play is being produced by The Collective Theater, a group of six Illinois-based actors including Ellis who met in Dalton, Illinois over 15 years ago. Inspired by their shared love of theatre, the group decided to unite to create theater projects that allowed them creative expression and a chance to do things differently.

“Each of us is a testimony to the benefits of having arts in the public school system,” a statement released by the Collective said. “We are thrilled to continue the work we started so many years ago and to share our creativity with such a talented cast. Our goal has always been to bring people of various backgrounds together through the use of theater and to provide a forum for meaningful dialogue and creative expression.  The production of “HooDoo Love” accomplishes this.  It is a powerful masterpiece, wrought with complexity… yet so simplistically human; it’s a story that will move everyone who sees it.”  

“Hoodoo Love” was written by Katori Hall, who wrote the award-winning Broadway play “The Mountaintop” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, is a period piece set in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1930’s. When Toulou leaves Mississippi to follow her dream of singing the blues, she meets Ace of Spades, a bluesman who will help her accomplish her goal.

Tickets are currently available online at or by calling the Athenaeum Theatre Box Office at (773) 935-6875.


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