By Melissa Arnold
When you’re on a mission to find your perfect match, it’s safe to say you’ll have some less-than-great experiences along the way. It happens to the best of us.
Whether you’re partnered up or flying solo, an evening of Valentines-themed storytelling is sure to be relatable and entertaining.
The Performing Arts Studio in Port Jefferson will host a production of (Mostly) True Things, a recurring show featuring people from all walks of life sharing real, personal experiences. Their Feb. 11 production is themed “Bad Valentines and Worst Dates Ever.”
There’s also a game wrapped into the evening — while all four stories are true, three storytellers will change subtle little details. In Act 2, the audience will have a chance to question each person and decide for themselves who’s being sneaky. Winners get a tote bag, and the whole truth about each story is shared before the end of the night. It’s a combination of comedy, heart and community that is truly a unique experience every time.
The host and creator of (Mostly) True Things is Selden resident Jude Treder-Wolff, a creative soul who has worn a number of hats.
“I grew up in a family where everyone learned to play piano, and I fell in love with it. I’ve always been a musician and a performer, and I got a degree in music therapy in my 20s,” Treder-Wolff explained. “Music has always been a healing art form for me … I love helping people tap into their creativity and use the arts as a way to express their feelings.”
After working as a music therapist in hospitals, rehab facilities and sessions with children, Treder-Wolff went to graduate school for social work and began a private practice.
She was also growing creatively, getting involved with the cabaret scene in New York City and writing her own material. A mentor encouraged her to share true stories from her own life as well.
(Mostly) True Things has appeared around New York City, Long Island and the Midwest since 2014, weaving the performers’ stories with original songs written and performed by Treder-Wolff.
This Valentine’s edition is special, she notes.
“I don’t usually do themed shows, but a while back I was in a show called ‘Worst Dates Ever,’ and it was hilarious, so I put out a request for story pitches on that theme,” she said.
To be cast in the show, potential storytellers meet with Jude, often via Zoom, to present their ideas. If it’s a good fit, they’ll work with her to develop a carefully-crafted and polished story for the show — possibly with those little white lies added in.
Among the Feb. 11 performers is Kelly Massaro, a Westhampton Beach middle school teacher and writer.
“I was a scarecrow in my elementary school play, and that’s all the theater experience I have. I’m feeling terrified and thrilled,” Massaro admitted, laughing. “But I made a New Year’s resolution to try new things. I saw (Mostly) True Things in the past and knew I wanted to share some of my writing with Jude … The show was so evocative, thoughtful and funny — the little twist of trying to find who’s telling their story straight is really engaging for the audience.”
Massaro will share the ups and downs of learning to own her romantic history while giving herself permission to love. It may not be the funniest story of the night, but she hopes it will resonate.
“The most important stories come from being vulnerable,” Massaro said. “I want to reach the person in the audience who might be nursing a broken heart.”
The evening will also feature performances by humor writer Ivy Eisenberg; playwright Jack Canfora; and political comedian Joey Novick.
Ultimately, the goal is to leave the audience feeling hopeful, Treder-Wolff said.
“Everyone can enjoy this because it’s both comedic and real,” she added. “I think it can help people to feel a lot less alone in their life experiences.”
See (Mostly) True Things: “Bad Valentines and Worst Dates Ever” at The Performing Arts Studio, 224 E. Main St., Port Jefferson on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 online at www.mostlytruethings.com or $20 at the door (cash only). The show is recommended for teens and adults. For more information, call 631-928-6529.