From The Buffalo News - 4/22/22
By Melinda Miller
MusicalFare's 'The Other Josh Cohen' is fun, frisky
The comic musical “The Other Josh Cohen,” a New York City fairy tale told with an offbeat narrative and pop song score, could not have found a better spot for its regional premiere than MusicalFare Theatre.
This is just the type of production MusicalFare does best – fun and frisky, with plenty of jokes and lots of music from a well-tuned cast, all with one goal: Pure entertainment. Once again, they deliver.
The premise of the show, written by David Rossmer and Steve Rosen, is lightweight, but still serious enough to make us care:
Valentine’s Day is approaching and, in a tiny New York City flat, an adorable mustachioed mensch is all alone and wondering, "Why me?"
Meet Josh Cohen. He has no girlfriend, no money and, he has just discovered, no possessions. Even before the lights have gone down for the performance, a stealthy burglar was silently stripping the set, e.g. Josh’s apartment, bare to the walls. All that remains for the hapless hero are a Neil Diamond CD and “Hang In There!” kitty calendar.
In the middle of his nothingness, Josh (Joseph Donohue III) is left bereft. Fortunately for his story, he is not alone. At stage left, a man dressed exactly like Josh takes a much more sanguine view of the situation. Meet “Narrator Josh” (Zak Ward), a much calmer, clean-shaven version of his rumpled doppelganger.
Narrator Josh has the wisdom of hindsight; he’s talking to us a year after the events that are unfolding for mustached-Josh. Ward plays him with a delicious deadpan humor, a great counterpart to Donohue’s needy nerd.
The journey that turns one Josh into the other is a 90-minute whirlwind of surprising encounters, laugh-out-loud twists and more bad luck. Along the way, Donohue and Ward anchor a ridiculously talented ensemble of singing-actor-musicians.
Brandon Barry, Solange Gosselin, Robert Insana and the incomparable Theresa Quinn create a host of friends, relatives and strangers who come and go throughout Josh’s waking dream/nightmare. Guest appearances by Neil Diamond, Darth Vader and (spoiler alert) a cat with a hairball underline the challenge Josh faces between staying true to his good guy/bad luck self or turning to the dark side when no one is looking.
The ensemble is pure pleasure to watch as they artfully switch roles between – and even within – scene after scene with comically choreographed precision. As if that isn’t enough, they are also the band for the show, performing on keyboards, guitar, mandolin, accordion, saxophone, violin and keytar. (Peggy Scalzo provides the percussion.
MusicalFare's Randall Kramer has made sure each character gets his or her wings, supported by Quinn’s musical direction. Chris Cavanagh, as usual, has devised a set that makes all the action appear effortless while also accommodating the onstage musicians.
While its funny pop-rock numbers won’t be propelling “Josh Cohen” into the musical pantheon, Rossmer and Rosen clearly had a good time writing this so-called “true story.” Now, for the first time in Western New York, it’s a good time that can be shared by all.
3.5 stars (out of 4).