Rossmer and Rosen: From Mario Kart to Off-Broadway

Great comedy duos often play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses, complement one another and feel as though they are one in the same.

David Rossmer and Steve Rosen do that in the off-Broadway production, “The Other Josh Cohen,” a story about a good guy on a quest for some luck.

Rossmer born in Manhattan and raised in New Jersey and Rosen, a Rochester native, met at an improvisation session at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts. Already a seasoned performer at the camp, Rosen saw new French Woodite Rossmer as stiff competition, but recognized his talent immediately.

“I had been going to that camp since I was a little boy,” said Rosen. “David came later because his parents sent him to sports camp because he’s that kind of theater kid – the one who’s good looking and can play sports. I was like, ‘Who is this older kid coming in here thinking he could just join in?’ and then it was like we had a new star in town and I was like, ‘This is someone to watch out for. He’s gonna be good.’”

Rosen knew acting was his passion and had to explain to his parents this was his calling.

“My parents always were encouraging me to get into medicine or law,” said Rosen. “I had to have the conversation with my parents, let them know and sit them down and say, ‘I’m sorry to tell you I wanna be an actor. I love this and I wanna do this.’ They were very receptive to it.”

Movie buff Rossmer joined an acting class to get extracurricular credits for school. Initially he was turned off to the class since they chose to perform musicals. Bribed by his mother for ten dollars to stay in the class, a girl in the same group caught his eye and Rossmer decided to stay.

“I always wanted to be a writer,” said Rossmer. “I played in bands and I wanted to write. I thought I would be a rock star. The writing of it was always more interesting to me and acting was just something I loved to do, but never in a billion years thought it would be part of my career.”

Rossmer and Rosen wrote and star in “The Other Josh Cohen,” a musical inspired by a song in Mario Kart. The two felt this particular song sounded like a Neil Diamond track. After several hours of guitar playing in Rosen’s Los Angeles sublet apartment, the musical score of the show was composed. With Tony Award winner Ted Sperling on board to direct and an involved behind the scenes team, Rossmer and Rosen saw their musical come to life.

“Everybody involved on this show is doing this with a huge sort of heart,” said Rosen. “They really love the piece and the message of the piece and it’s been a very sort of sweet collaboration. Everyone is putting in the time and making it happen. It’s a lovely thing.”

Rossmer and Rosen have worked together in the past before. They wrote a television pilot, “SAY AH” and worked on “Don’t Quit your Night Job,” an improvisational comedy show.

Things usually go off without a hitch, but Rossmer and Rosen have had their fair share of embarrassing moments on stage.

During a production at French Woods of “Fiddler on the Roof,” Rosen dealt with a fellow actor who recited numerous lines meant for a much later scene too early in the play. Another time, Rossmer played Charles Guitaeu in the musical “Assassins.” The door that he was supposed to fall through to get hung did not open. The door finally broke after Rossmer’s numerous attempts to jump on the door to break it.

“No one’s ever been more excited to get executed,” Rosen joked.

During less than perfect times on stage, both actors try to remain undeterred by technical difficulties.

“You roll with the punches. Sometimes technology works with you. Sometimes it works against you. You just have to make sure that you can figure out what happens next,” said Rosen.

Rossmer, more comfortable as a writer than an actor, has an individualized way to deal with pre-performance jitters.

“I try to remind myself to have fun,” Rossmer said. “In order to get rid of nerves, it helps me to just remind myself why I’m doing this and that this is not surgery and no one dies if I screw up. I try and just remind myself that I’m doing what I love.”

In the near future, Rosen would like to continue his life as an actor and enjoy every project he takes under his wing.

“I’d like to keep creating art that I’m proud of and creating things I find interesting and other people respond to,” said Rosen. “I just wanna continue to go where life takes me and not try to put too much pressure on myself to do certain things and make certain amounts of money.”

Rossmer has one goal in life — a very juicy and tender desire he’d like to satiate.

“I’d like to be able to afford a weekly visit to Peter Luger’s Steak House. If I have that, I’m a happy man,” said Rossmer.

Rosen and Rossmer believe the theater is a sanctuary. Theirs.

“[Theater] really feels like home to me,” said Rosen. “I’ve spent some of my best experiences in front of people with [Rossmer] doing improv over the years. I feel like this is an experience that happens every night. Whatever happens here tonight is what you saw and that’s your experience. People coming tomorrow night are gonna have a completely different time because anything else can happen. It’s never the same way twice.”
Rossmer and Rosen both agree that the success of their musical is rewarding, but are appreciative of all the things in their lives aside from “The Other Josh Cohen.”

Rossmer and Rosen both agree that the success of their musical is rewarding, but are appreciative of all the things in their lives aside from “The Other Josh Cohen.”

“We both are in very healthy life places,” affirmed Rossmer. “It’s nice to be in a place where the small things mean a lot and this is a really beautiful cherry on top of the sundae but the sundae’s pretty great without it.”

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