The two writer-stars of The Other Josh Cohen, a very winning portrait of a loser, wear their musical like a comfy flannel shirt. Steve Rosen plays the title role: a menschy schlub, with a mustache as droopy as his romantic prospects, whose apartment has been robbed of everything but a single Neil Diamond CD. David Rossmer plays the title role as well, but a year later; his Josh, who narrates the show, is clean-shaven, fitter and happier. So we know from the start that, though the world may seem to conspire against him, Josh’s lot is bound to improve—a process that begins with a check for $56,000 that he receives by mistake in the mail. Will he cash it, or will decency stop him? What would Neil Diamond do?
Directed with amiable looseness by Ted Sperling, The Other Josh Cohen has a warm, [title of show]–y vibe as the Joshes riff off each other and the protean Kate Wetherhead, who plays roughly a dozen supporting roles. The show doesn’t want to amaze; it aspires to be decent, and its values are as catchy as its tunes. Though the score may be jokey, its stylistic homage to Diamond is not just a sprinkling of savory cheese—suited to a perfomer who “sounds like parmesan”—but a tribute to confident vulnerability. With the courage to own our own luck, Rossmer and Rosen suggest, we all might be Diamonds in the rough.—Adam Feldman
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam