Monday, July 7, 2014

Spotlight On...Douglas J. Cohen

Name: Douglas J. Cohen

Hometown: Storrs, CT

Education: B.A.  Amherst College

Favorite Credits: No Way to Treat a Lady (off-Broadway at the Hudson Guild and York Theatre Company), The Opposite of Sex (Williamstown Theater Festival), The Big Time (with Douglas Carter Beane, directed by Chris Ashley at NYMF), Boozy (Ohio Theatre in SoHo directed by Alex Timbers)

Why theater?: There's a tangible response from your audience...a sense that something is happening that's ephemeral.  It's also a place where writers are respected.  And it's so collaborative. 

Tell us about The Gig: It asks the question, "When was the last time you did something you really wanted?"  I first saw the movie by Frank D. Gilroy and was so emotionally affected by the second scene that I had to stop my vhs machine! (Sorry, it's not on DVD). Six guys with little in common except their love for jazz have a chance to live their dream 20 years later than expected. And in the Catskills!  Who could resist taking that journey?

What inspired you to write The Gig?: I have a little experience with middle age. I also used to be a pianist-vocalist on Cape Cod since I was 16 during my summer vacations.  My dad (a rabbi) used to have business vacations at Grossinger's. Talk about writing about what you know!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I'm a sucker for intelligence and heart.  Also melody.  I like to be able to identify with characters and experience their joy and pain.  I will always be inspired by Sondheim.  But I love Frank Loesser, Richard Rodgers, Gershwin, Berlin, Cy Coleman.  Adam Guettel, Jeanine Tesori, Michael Korey/Scott Frankel, and Ahrens & Flaherty are contemporary writers I love to hear. 

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I'd like to write a show with Rupert Holmes.  He's a very gifted man who writes a terrific email!  (We've corresponded briefly).  As far as performers, I'd love to work with Anika Noni Rose, especially on a musical I've written with Cheryl Davis entitled Barnstormer

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
If/Then.  It's a refreshing musical which was beautifully directed and performed.  I'm afraid it was overlooked this past season. 

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Tony Hale (from "Veep") could play me now, but I'd like Ansel Elgort to star in the flashbacks when I had hair.  He doesn't look remotely like me, but I think he would sell tickets.  It should be entitled "Shoots and Ladders" because I often feel my life/career has been modeled after a board game.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Watching Will Ferrell movies with my son, Jeremy.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: Can it be something I wrote?  Wow, that's tricky.  I listen to "Telephone Wire" from Fun Home a lot. 

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:
A therapist. 

What’s up next?: Nine Wives, my new musical co-written with Dan Elish (bookwriter on "13"). It's making its debut at the TriArts Sharon Playhouse July 24-27.  Am I allowed to publicize two shows in the same article?