by Mira-Rose Kingsbury Lee
You might have seen the bright yellow signs on the way to school, if you take the unbeaten track down West 43rd. They’re certainly difficult to miss: “The Other Josh Cohen” displayed in star-studded red letters next to pictures of a cast dressed almost entirely in flannel. Intrigued, I decided to take the leap, and bought a ticket (about $80 for orchestra tickets).
“The Other Josh Cohen” is a delightfully upbeat new musical from Steve Rosen and David Rossmer, preaching the power of positivity in 90 minutes (with one intermission) at the West Side theater. It’s charming if a little unpolished, a product of the Cell Theatre Company.
Narrator Josh (David Rossmer) sketches out a portrait of himself one year ago, alone and unhappy on Valentine’s Day. The old Josh Cohen (Steve Rosen), sporting a terrible mustache, has had plenty of woes over his past Valentine’s Days, and now he comes home to find that a burglar has broken into his home, leaving him with only a Neil Diamond CD, the DVD case of a dirty movie, and a kitten-themed calendar.
At the last moment, Josh’s luck changes when he receives a giftㅡ a check bearing enough money to turn his life aroundㅡ if it actually does belong to him. The cast, featuring Neil Diamond (Kate Wetherhead), sings an encouraging soundtrack over Josh’s grapple with whether or not to cash the cheque.
“The Other Josh Cohen” is ultimately a testament to having faith in the ‘what goes
around, comes around’ principle. Even as Josh’s life hits an all-time-low, Narrator Josh is always there to remind the audience that it does get better. In a season of dismal shows (Dear Evan Hansen, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables–even Wicked can’t be relied on for a happy ending) reflecting the bitterness of the human condition, it might be exactly what Broadway needs.
“The Other Josh Cohen” runs until February 24, 6 days a week. Anyone needing a boost of positivity in the upcoming days of semester finals should put aside an evening and get this rock-Broadway mix of a soundtrack stuck in their head.