Review: ‘Chick Flick the Musical’ and ‘The Other Josh Cohen’ at Westside Theatre

By Jonathan Spira on 15 March 2019
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Two musicals are currently at the Westside Theatre, an historic building that opened in 1889 as the Second German Baptist Church: “Chick Flick the Musical” and “The Other Josh Cohen.”

“Chick Flick the Musical,” the story of four female friends trying to spend a night together watching, well, a chick flick, is making its Off-Broadway debut upstairs at the Westside Theatre. Employing the term used (sometimes in the pejorative) for the film genre dealing largely with love and romance, the occasionally uneven “Chick Flick” brings together the overextended working woman trying to balance career and family, the aging actress who never made it and now sells beauty products, the pastry chef who refuses to acknowledge the infidelity of her husband, and the one in the group who has never bothered to grow up.

The extremely talented and high-energy cast –Karen (Sharon Catherine Brown), Sheila (Lindsay Nicole Chambers), Meg (Carla Duren), and Dawn (Megan Sikora) – manages to endear their characters to the audience with some powerful songs conducted by Matt Castle as they go about their evening with drinking games, makeovers, and discussions of chick flicks as marital drama and career crises bubble to the top.

The cast of "Chick Flick the Musical"

The cast of “Chick Flick the Musical”

Jason Sherwood’s wonderfully fluorescent set along with Suzy Benzinger’s character-defining costumes are worth the price of admission.

Meanwhile, downstairs, “The Other Josh Cohen” is the awkward tale of none other than two Josh Cohens side-by-side yet one year apart played by David Rossmer (Narrator Josh of today) and Steve Rosen (Josh one year ago), who also wrote the show.  From the very beginning, I kept thinking of the 2018 television commercial “The Old Me,” which also features a side-by-side of “me” in the present and 30 days earlier before switching to Spectrum high-speed Internet and cable television, although the show predates the commercial.

The premise, just as with the TV commercial, is recognizable to any New Yorker: Josh scrapes by as a temp, has his apartment burgled, doesn’t have a date for Valentine’s Day, and has a rather embarrassing looking moustache.

We know what’s bashert, in Yiddish באַשערט or foreordained, because we have today’s Narrator Josh right in front of us looking bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

But along the way, we have to struggle – along with the two Joshes – how would a $56,000 check out of nowhere impact the life of someone who clearly is a shlub. In the case of the TV commercial, we only struggle with the question of whether high-speed Internet would effect a similar transformation.

The show frequently strains to reach the 90-minute mark (the commercial tortures us for a mere 59 seconds) and brisker direction and the removal of several false endings would have made for a far more satisfying theater experience.

What is worthwhile, however, are the performances of the five other cast members who play a host of characters including Neil Diamond (Jane Bruce) and the sequin-bedazzled Aunt Bea (Cathryn Wake), as well as the three others –Louis Tucci, Luke Darnell, and Elizabeth Nestlerode – who also doubled as the show’s band.

THE DETAILS

Chick Flick the Musical
Closing March 16
The Other Josh Cohen
Closing April 7
Westside Theatre
407 W 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
www.chickflickthemusical.com
http://otherjoshcohen.com

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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