BWW Review: Neil Diamond Is A Boy's Best Friend in THE OTHER JOSH COHEN
Steve Rosen and David Rossmer's pop rock musical charmer The Other Josh Cohen has been hitting the regional circuit a bit since its 2012 Off-Broadway production that picked up Drama Desk, Lortel and Off-Broadway Alliance Award Nominations for Best Musical. It's great to have this very funny, very tuneful and very uplifting show back in town.
Just be sure to arrive at director Hunter Foster's snazzy, pepped-up production a little early for the full effect of designer Carolyn Mraz's set, since there isn't much of it left by the time the show starts. Since the story begins when our leading man comes home to find his apartment nearly completely cleaned out by thief, pre-show activities include seeing the crook robbing our hero of his television, his beloved poster from "Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory" and the delicious Bundt cake he had planned on enjoying.
All that remains, we eventually find out, is an empty porn DVD case ("Oversexed Injury Lawyers), a "365 Days of Hang On Kitties" calendar and his "Neil Diamond III" CD.
But it's no spoiler to tell you that things are going to work out okay for ol' Josh, because there he is at the top of the show, played by Rossmer, looking fit and happy and flashing a million-dollar smile as he strums a guitar and narrates the happenings that began spinning a year ago that very night.
Rosen plays the Josh he once was; awkward, shlubby and overweight with a thick mustache that makes him a ringer for David Merrick. A struggling writer with a love life laced with broken hearts, he's a nerdy fixer-upper with the positive attitude that comes with thinking that life can't possibly get any worse.
Aided by an onstage band of actors jumping in and out of multiple roles -- Hannah Elless, Luke Darnell, Elizabeth Nestlerode, Louis Tucci and the always terrific Kate Wetherhead -- Josh and Josh give us a recount of his romantic and family foibles before a potentially life-changing quirk of fate occurs. And yes, it involves someone else named Josh Cohen.
With a fun score that sometimes riffs off of Josh's beloved Neil Diamond ("Neil life is better than real life," sings Wetherhead, costumed as the iconic singer for an intentionally cheesy, yet insanely catch number) and a clever book that's heavy on urban Jewish humor and pop culture references (Darth Vader makes an appearance.), The Other Josh Cohen is a solid winner.