The Other Josh Cohen

Paper Mill Playhouse

Millburn, NJ - February 2014

Reviewed by John Kenrick

A few years ago, a duo of struggling actors who were also musical theatre writers dramatised their lives in the quirky [title of show]. A determined and innovative social media campaign eventually got the show to Broadway starring the authors, but ticket buyers proved relentlessly uninterested in their musicalized navel-gazing. At the time, I feared that other writers and composers would be inspired to offer musicals based on their non-careers. Unfortunately, it seems that I was right.

The Other Josh Cohen is yet another musical that assumes people want to see an unknown writer sing about himself. I have no idea if Steve Rosen (or his co-author David Rossmer) really experienced any of the events depicted in this show. Rosen portrays the supposedly fictional title character -- an aspiring writer singing about a time when his fortunes were at their worst, until an unexpected check in the mail offered the hope of better times.

This act of self-glorification drags on for ninety endless minutes. Despite a few scattered moments of mirth and a parade of terribly loud and utterly forgettable songs, I found it impossible to give even a tiny damn about the fictional Josh Cohen or any of the one-dimensional supporting characters surrounding him -- all impersonated by the six musicians of the band. By the time that Darth Vader strode onto the stage to sing alongside an actress impersonating Neil Diamond (no, I am not kidding), it was clear that this show was careening past the point of desperation.

I applaud Paper Mill's decsion to showcase new musicals, but it was a mistake to present anything as amateruish and wildly self indulgent as The Other Josh Cohen. Much as I hate to have to write such a negative review, I would hate it far more if anyone blamed me for encouraging them to see this disappointing and downright boring musical.

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