David Rossmer and Steve Rosen’s music and lyrics are a pleasant assortment of bright songs in the mode of pop, disco and show tunes, but their book is thin, thought it has a charming tone. There’s amusement and thoughtfulness during the 90-minutes without much impact.
The beaming, scruffy and highly personable Mr. Rossmer is perpetually and joyously strumming a guitar as he portrays the narrator Josh Cohen. As the Josh Cohen in the actual events, the mustached Rosen is equally as delightful while enacting the tale. They’re identically dressed in jeans and plaid shirts and make a winning team. The lively band appears on view throughout.
The cheery ensemble of Kate Wetherhead, Hannah Elless, Elizabeth Nestlerode, Luke Darnell, Louis Tucci and Zach Spound all skillfully play variously “A bunch of other people.” These include Josh’s supportive parents, friends, relatives, acquaintances and love interests.
Director Hunter Foster keeps the pace zippy while realizing the piece’s humor and tenderness. Scenic Designer Carolyn Mraz’s shabby realization of a cramped Manhattan apartment is comically accurate. Jeff Croiter’s lighting design is a pleasing blend of warm hues. The musical performances and effects are finely balanced by sound designer Bart Fasbender. Besides the lumberjack apparel and Neil Diamond’s flashy getup, the variety of other characters are perfectly visualized by the garments assembled that comprise Nicole V. Moody’s clever costume design.
The Other Josh Cohen was originally developed at the New York Musical Festival and premiered in 2012 at Off-Broadway’s SoHo Playhouse where it played for four weeks. It starred Rossmer and Rosen and was nominated for several Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards including Best Musical and for the duo’s writing and acting. Since then it’s been performed at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and at Rochester, New York’s Geva Theatre Center.
This latest incarnation proves it to be spirited, innocuous and a mild diversion.
The Other Josh Cohen (through February 24, 2019)
Westside Theatre, 407 West 43rd Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 800-447-7400 or visit http://www.otherjoshcohen.com
Running time: one hour and 35 minutes with no intermission