By Ilaria Cutolo

storytime with What Will the Neighbors Say? was founded by writers-directors-producers Sam Hood Adrain and James Clements in 2016. As stated on their website, “storytime is meant to bring us all together through the communal art forms of storytelling and live music. Each night has a unique host and musical guest who curate the theme and bring in new communities at each gathering. In between sets, audience members are encouraged to get up on stage and tell a story relating to that evening’s theme, creating an authentic and powerful collective experience. The only rule is that the story is true!” 

The company, What Will the Neighbors Say?, has debuted 9 original plays, including numerous new works all over the world and hosts free community events to boot. Tonight’s event was about bringing together a community, sharing stories in a safe space-exploring what it means to be a human being living this experience at this time on this planet. And that is what I experienced as the night kicked off with the sharp, witty banter of Comedian  Abby Feldman providing a nice balance to the heavy and often sentimental mood that events such as this can sometimes bring on. Her opening number, “Call me by My Hebrew Name”, followed by, “Yoga Gurl”, with audience singing along to the chorus, had us all giggly and belly laughing. She delivers the kind of snarky banter that you actually enjoy and wouldn’t mind more of. Also performing 2 sets was the musically gifted and rising star Eleri Ward sharing her personal stories while offering  breathtaking acoustic covers of Sondheim classics. It was difficult not to be affected by her soul-stirring, rich vocals leaving most of us in the audience misty eyed.

The heart of the show happened in between sets as 8 brave souls volunteered to share one true story that changed their lives forever. There was no script, just a microphone and 5 minutes to tell a story, not unlike The Moth. Participation is optional. storytime with What Will the Neighbors Say? happens once a month with the next show on Monday, June 19th. Wine, non-alcoholic beverages and tasty treats are provided making this night feel like you’ve entered someone’s living room. The environment is cozy, welcoming, and friendly. It’s an evening well spent, bring a friend or come alone. You might just meet your neighbor and make a new friend. 

Doors open at 7pm with music and stories from 7:30-9pm. Next show is on Monday, June 19th.

Location: Nancy Manocherian’s the cell theatre . 338 West 23rd Street New York, NY 10011. Admission FREE. Reservations required for entry.