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Broadway Q&A: David Rossmer of ‘The Other Josh Cohen’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |


David Rossmer reveals how a chance meeting at a performing arts camp led to his hit Off-Broadway show

David Rossmer wrote, and currently stars in, The Other Josh Cohen with Steve Rosen. In the charming and hysterical musical, Rossmer and Rosen both play Josh Cohen, but one year apart. The talented duo met as teenagers at French Woods, a performing arts camp in the Catskill Mountains. The Other Josh Cohen features a quadruple-threat cast of seven actors who perform more than 50 roles. The multitaskers even play several instruments, and make up the band as well. In the show, Josh Cohen is experiencing a string of bad luck. His life transforms when a strange and mysterious letter turns up in his mailbox. In addition to The Other Josh Cohen, Rossmer’s performing credits also include Law and Order SVU, Vinyl, Blue Bloods, The Good Fight and the Broadway shows Titanic, Fiddler on the Roof, Peter and the Starcatcher and Les Misérables. Both Rossmer and Rosen have also appeared in hit Amazon Prime series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Rossmer is also currently writing a musical adaptation of Monopoly for Broadway.

Steve Rosen and David Rossmer star in ‘The Other Josh Cohen’ (Photo: Caitlin McNaney)

Steve Rosen and David Rossmer star in ‘The Other Josh Cohen’ (Photo: Caitlin McNaney)

When did you know that you had to perform?
David Rossmer
: Honestly, I think I needed more extracurricular activities in high school for my college resume, and started taking an acting class. I thought they were making a film. I loved movies, but it ended up they were just videotaping a live performance of a musical. The classes were full of acting and dancing and singing. I found the whole thing embarrassing. That was until I developed a 9th grade crush on a girl there, whose name I still remember. But she was a girl who I’m pretty sure didn’t know I existed. I kept going back to see her, but started enjoying the class.  Next semester, she was gone, and I kept going.

Haven’t you and Steve been friends since you you meet when you were teenagers at camp? 
DR
: French Woods is a performing arts camp in Hancock, NY. I mean, sure, you can do sports there, but you’ll actually be less popular. We met in our mid-teens, and before we even exchanged names or shook hands, we were paired up during a comedy improv troupe audition, which, at an arts camp, is remarkably cutthroat. 

Can you talk about making your Broadway debut in Titanic, and when you heard you were cast? 
DR
: I’m pretty sure I was in a movie theater on the Upper East Side when I found out. I left the movie to call them back. I was totally shocked. I kept thinking they were calling the wrong person, which is ironic since that kind of happens in The Other Josh Cohen. The experience was mind-boggling.  It was all so new, and I lucked into the warmest, most generous bunch of people you could ask for in a debut experience. 

How cool that you and Steve Rosen were both in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. What stands out about that for you?
DR
: I share Steve’s admiration for (the show’s creator, writer and producer) Amy Sherman-Palladino. Dan Palladino (Amy’s collaborator) ain’t too shabby either. Talented and nice is a rare and awe-inspiring combination, and they are that in spades. I play Stan Benning on the show, a crude comedian who slights the main character, Midge, and then gets his due in the end. It’s been fun hearing from people who watch the show, saying “Gosh, you’re such a jerk!” I tell them to come see The Other Josh Cohen, so I can have a chance to balance out the sliminess of my role on Mrs. Maisel with the sweeter, gentler role I play in the musical. It’s fun to play both ends of the spectrum.

In the show, Josh gets wisdom and reassurance from his prior self. What advice do you wish you could give to your younger self? 
DR
: I think I’d sum it up with a quote by good ol’ Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

When were you bitten by the writing bug? 
DR
: It’s strange, but I blame Indiana Jones. I absolutely worshipped those movies as a kid. I mean, I was Indiana Jones for eight Halloweens in a row, no joke. I think it truly upset me that I couldn’t be him, but I could create my own stories where anything could happen, and get lost in that adventure. 

What was one of the first Broadway shows you ever saw? 
DR
: I remember seeing Cats as a kid and a cast member putting a slipper on my foot in the audience. I thought, okay, this is creepy but really cool. We saw a lot of shows, because my parents loved theater and we lived nearby. One of my core young Broadway memories is actually seeing a short-lived play called Solitary Confinement by Rupert Holmes, which is still one of the most clever things I’ve ever seen in my life (and he wrote “The Piña Colada Song”)!

Why do think people should see The Other Josh Cohen
DR
: It's great to see this musical if you're single or in a relationship. It celebrates how, before anything else, we have to learn to be kind to ourselves. It’s the best way to prepare yourself to love and be loved. And you don’t need to be in a relationship to be a successful human – being kind is far more important. In our show, we play the same character, one year apart, but we get to interact, and drive home some of these points in a very funny way.

When you are not working, what do you love to do?
DR
: In my free time, my wife and I like to travel. We just went to Barcelona and ate more food than anyone should ever put in their tummies. I’m also a big music lover, so we see a lot of concerts. I’m also trying to learn Russian. Does that count as work?
***
For more of the best of Broadway and Off-Broadway, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in March 2019.

 

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