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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
THE OTHER JOSH COHEN
at Westside Theater

UNLUCKY AND UNFULFILLED
By DAVID LEFKOWITZ


Everybody has a little bit of Josh Cohen in them – something of the eccentric yet unremarkable nebbish who is unfulfilled in work, unlucky in love and occasionally pushed by a seemingly hostile world toward the brink of despair. Put a Josh Cohen onstage, make him likable and his story amusing, and a fun show almost writes itself.
 
Well, not quite, of course. The Other Josh Cohen, running since Nov. 12 at off-Broadway’s Westside Theater, has authors – David Rossmer and Steve Rosen – who not only musicalize this true story but appear in it – Rossmer as the guitar-playing narrator, Rosen as the agreeably shlubby protagonist. They are flanked by a talented quartet (Hannah Ellis, Kate Wetherhead, Louis Tucci, Luke Darnell) who play not only supporting roles but onstage rock instruments.
 
This is all in the service of a musical that tells of one Josh Cohen, a nice Jewish boy with maxed-out credit cards, zero game with women and an apartment that has just been thief-stripped of everything but a Neil Diamond CD, a porn DVD titled “Oversexed Injury Lawyers” and, God help him, one of those cute daily cat calendars. Worse, Valentine’s Day is approaching, and Josh’s numerous near-dates are all disastrous enough to be funny but believable enough to be real (back in the day, I had similar).
 
Then a life-changing opportunity arrives in the mail – a windfall that could not only pay all the bills but signal a 180-degree turnaround for Josh’s increasingly pathetic life. But is it too good to be true? Or more to the point, is Josh too good to pursue the truth?
 
Padded to nearly two intermission-less hours, The Other Josh Cohen could use trimming of its repetitions. And clever as many of the lyrics are, it can be difficult to decipher the others when the vocals abut the rock arrangements. Irresistible, however, are the Oh, Hello-style winks to mundane daily life (broken copiers, day-after-Halloween candy sales, relics of 70s kitsch), a hilarious scene of Josh’s dad (Tucci) leaving the world’s most detailed answering-machine message and (yay!) the happy ending that our mensch deserves. By show’s end, everybody wantsa little bit of Josh Cohen in them.
 

Staged by Hunter Foster, The Other Josh Cohen opened Nov. 12, 2018 and is scheduled to run through April 28 at off-Broadway’s Westside Theater.

 


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