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Plays the Garner Galleria through May 1

BWW Review: THE OTHER JOSH COHEN at DCPA Josh Cohen is overweight, can't get a date, and his apartment was just emptied by a burglar--but that was a year ago, and a lot has improved since then, according to a much healthier and happier-looking Josh Cohen with a guitar. (You know they're the same because their shirts match.)

"The Other Josh Cohen" is a musical that gives you a look at how he got to a better place. The show's message is pretty easy to follow, they through it right in the lyrics of the opening number--"we're stubborn jerks 'til we're ready to listen." And the former Josh Cohen hasn't quite figured that out yet.

When his apartment is cleared, Josh's only remaining possession is a Neil Diamond CD. Of course, he happens to get robbed on Valentine's Day too, which traditionally hasn't been the most impressive day for him. (If you show up early enough, you get to watching the burglary happen.)

Then Josh receives a letter with his name on it, and enclosed is a check for tens of thousands of dollars seemingly from a distant relative. How he responds to that happenstance leads him through a frustrating set of twists and turns that -- not really a spoiler -- ends up working out pretty ok for him.

BWW Review: THE OTHER JOSH COHEN at DCPA Led balladeer-style by future Josh Cohen (Seth Dhonau), nearly all the songs are bouyant and playful, which is the general vibe of the show, despite everything that goes wrong. While the former Josh Cohen (Brett Ambler) suffers, his future self optimistically sings through his problems because he knows they'll get better. It's a small cast, featuring just a few other actors playing a multitude of roles: Nicole deBree (Several People), Valerie Igoe (A Lot of People) and Aaron Vega (A Bunch of People).

Both Ambler and Dhonau give Cohen an everyman vibe, although Ambler's Cohen has quirks that are much more relatable. (You know you've been that person buying several clearance bags of candy for yourself the day after a holiday.) It's easy to see why nothing is going right for him, but you're not mad at him for it. The others play everything from Neil Diamond and a Times Square Elmo to a Jewish grandmother and a typical landlord. Each actor was able to shift brilliantly between them, sometimes in just a few seconds.

BWW Review: THE OTHER JOSH COHEN at DCPA While it might be taboo to feature a depressed Josh Cohen who just happens to weigh a little more, to me it was one of the more personally relatable pieces. It's reasonable to expect that when his life got a little better, he shed a few pounds.

What I found to be the most charming was the show's inherent hopefulness. Even at his worst, Josh Cohen holds onto the hope his story won't have a tragic ending. It's the kind of message I feel like a lot of people need to experience at the moment, and what better way than through a musical you've probably never even heard of before. You might have had a tough year, but your day is gonna least, it did for Josh Cohen.

The Other Josh Cohen plays the Garner Galleria at the DCPA through May 1. Tickets are available at

Photos courtesy DCPA

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From This Author Chris Arneson