A Nice Little Twist of Fate: ‘The Other Josh Cohen’ (Review)

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.

Bridging the Gap: The Fight for Equal Pay in American Women’s Soccer (and Why it Matters)


By Mira-Rose Kingsbury Lee

In 2015, the US women’s soccer team won their third FIFA World Cup, scoring 5 goals against Germany in the final for a decisive victory.

The game broke records- it was watched by 26.7 million viewers, becoming the most-viewed soccer game in US history. But it was a celebration marked by disquiet.

For years, there had been objections from the women’s team surrounding the gender pay gap in American soccer. According to Sports Illustrated, “The [US women’s team] is paid almost four times less than the [US men’s team], despite producing nearly $20 million in revenues for U.S. Soccer in 2015.” The problem isn’t exclusive to the top tier of women’s soccer- players in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) often are paid barely above minimum wage for a full season of training and playing. The pay ceiling for an NWSL player is only $37,800. For reference, the average salary for a male soccer player in Major League Soccer (MLS) is $300,000.

    But the point is not to compare- as Carli Lloyd, star player for the USWNT, wrote: “Our beef is not with the men’s national team; we love those guys, and we support those guys. It’s with the federation, and its history of treating us as if we should be happy that we are professional players and not working in the kitchen or scrubbing the locker room.”

    The hostile environment toward advancement in women’s sports makes it difficult for young women to play professionally. As Beacon soccer player Ariel Portnoy says, the pay gap is “ridiculous, and totally unfair.” Most importantly, it dissuades women from playing soccer professionally, because it’s so difficult to make a living off of the relatively low salary, and the chances of becoming a professional player are incredibly small. Of the 388,000 girls who play soccer in high school, only 27,000 play in college. Of those 27,000, only 180 players go professional in America, and play in the NWSL. Some of those players are paid as little as $15,000 for a full six-month season of training, practicing, and playing games. That low income discourages girls from striving to play professionally, and robs the field of talent.

Carli Lloyd summed it up nicely when she wrote, “[the USWNT is] totally determined to right the unfairness in our field, not just for ourselves but for the young players coming up behind us.”

Sources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/colehaan/2018/10/08/changemakers-reboot-wearables-for-the-future-of-health/#169a6b787c3e

https://www.si.com/planet-futbol/2016/04/06/uswnt-us-soccer-wage-discrimination-revenue-unequal-pay

https://www.si.com/planet-futbol/2016/03/31/uswnt-eeoc-wage-discrimination-equal-pay

http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/estimated-probability-competing-professional-athletics

Stretching while Stressing: Quick and Easy Workouts for Working Students

By Mira-Rose Kingsbury Lee

ninja working at desk PNG Clip arts

As perpetually overworked high school students (looking at you, history teachers), we all know that feeling. The clock on your computer reads ‘3 AM’. The quiet blanketing the city is only broken by the furious clacking of computer keys. Unblinking, burrowed inside a blanket, you write a nearly-incomprehensible sentence about colonialism in South Africa. And re-write it. And re-write it again. Your wrists are bent at an uncomfortable angle, your fingers are cramping, and your back aches, but this essay is due tomorrow (technically, today) and it’s worth 20% of your overall grade in the class. What choice do you have?

Now, taking a break may not be an option, but before you toss aside all notions of healthy living, consider the exercise you can achieve right in your desk chair. Here are some example exercises from Shape, a fitness and health source, that can help you be a little healthier. And take it from me – they really do work.

  1. Stretching: Link your hands behind your back and extend your arms at an angle parallel to the ground. Twist to the sides to stretch out your back. Wrap your hands around your left knee and bring it to your chest. Release and then stretch your right leg in the same fashion.
  2. Buns and Guns: Sit up straight, push your knees together, place your hands under your bum, and extend your arms. You shouldn’t be all the way off your seat, but this exercise should be giving your thighs and abs a small workout.
  3. The Speedskater: Sit with your legs spread, your left foot planted on the ground and your right leg extended with one heel on the ground. Lean down and touch your right elbow to your left knee. Repeat this, switching sides.
  4. The Crunch (a reverse Speedskater): Place your hands behind your head. Lift your left leg as you touch your right elbow to your left knee. Do ten reps and then switch to the other side!
  5. The Couch Potato: Lift your feet slightly off the ground. Then extend your legs all the way out to be parallel with the ground. Hold that pose for ten seconds, then slowly lower your legs back to the original position. Do this ten to twenty times.

Some other tips: If you have a rubber band, wrap it around your fingers and stretch out your hands; this will exercise your wrists and forearms. Make sure to keep your wrists flat and lined up with your forearms on your keyboard or notebook. Having your wrists at an awkward position for extended periods of time may cause discomfort (and potentially, carpal tunnel syndrome).

Remember to drink water, sleep (your bloodstream should not be 20% coffee), and enjoy studying!

Dinner with Eddy Lee: Career Advice from a “Hamilton” Swing

211b3982ae3542b359cff63e46667494_400x400By Mira-Rose Kingsbury Lee

 

The theatre lights of the Richard Rodgers fade to darkness. The buzzing audience quiets as a spotlight appears on the stage. A man, dressed in 18th century garb, strides onto the stage, and begins: “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean…”

In the unlikely event that you don’t recognize it, this is the beginning of “Hamilton” – revolutionary musical, winner of eleven Tony awards and all the praise theatre critics can muster. As the audience erupts into applause, the rest of the revolutionaries join Aaron Burr on stage. Among them is Eddy Lee, the first Asian-American male actor in “Hamilton.” His movements across the stage are uniquely graceful. When I tell him so, he laughs with characteristic modesty. “Oh! Thank you,” he says. “That’s so nice!”

I have the pleasure of having dinner with Eddy between the matinee and the evening show. He’s his typical charismatic self, downplaying his talent with self-deprecating humour and the kindness that he’s known for amongst the cast.

“This guy is so cool,” says James Iglehart, who, despite shining in the role of Lafayette/Jefferson, is better known for his role as the genie in the original Aladdin musical on Broadway.

Eddy plays George Eacker, and is an ensemble swing, meaning he alternates between all six male ensemble parts depending on the night. “It’s a little weird to have a different role to play each night,” Eddy says, “Sometimes I think I’m going to start taking the wrong steps, but it’s worked out pretty well so far!”

No kidding! “Hamilton” is even harder to get a role in than to get a ticket for. So how did Eddy do it?

“Well, I definitely didn’t have your conventional training process! I mean, I started [acting] late in high school- tenth grade, to be exact – and didn’t even start seriously training until four years later, after I graduated college… I just started auditioning, meeting people, going to dance classes, acting classes, and learning anything and everything I could on the jobs I booked.”

It’s simple, but it works! Ask any theater kid at Beacon what the secret is to making a brilliant show and they’ll tell you that it’s hard work.

“I auditioned for [“Hamilton”] thirteen times over two years! Every six months they have an open call that I would always go to. Sometimes I would get called back, sometimes not, but I went to everything I could.”

Hard work indeed.

And what drew Eddy to “Hamilton” in the first place? “The statement of inclusion and diversity, the history of America told by Americans today! The unconventional casting! I mean, this is how I’ve always wanted the theater community to be. It didn’t matter what you were, so long as you could portray a character honestly, and truthfully, and could make people feel – that’s all that mattered,” Eddy explains. “This show means a lot to me on so many levels.”

According to the New York Times, “Hamilton” is embodies a “sense of momentum, of [a] wave that you ride or drown in.” Eddy is a part of that wave.

It’s almost time for him to go back to the theater for the evening performance, but he makes sure to provide one last piece of advice: “Be open to anything! Broadway is great, but there are so many ways to express yourself now that it really depends on what you say and how you want to say it. There is no right or wrong way to navigate this business and you never know what something might lead to. So be open to learning constantly. Be open to broadening your experiences. Be open to being wrong! More often than not, that’s when we learn the most. Acting is a study of life. So experience everything it has to offer!”

I can’t help but notice one thing. As he bounds back to the Richard Rodgers, there’s only one way he’s looking: forward.

Additional Note from the Author:

One of Eddy’s favorite moments in “Hamilton” is when he’s playing Man 3. “During ‘Guns and Ships’, right before Washington’s lyrical segment, one of the ensemble vocal parts barks – literally, ‘woof woof!’ Listen for it! It’ll blow your mind if notice it!”