Five Star Arts brings you a series of brief discussions with members of the independent theatre community prior to the openings of their works this fall. Here is
Matthew Joshua Cohen appearing in
Hansel & Gretel – Christmas
Tell us about you as an artist.
I have loved theatre for as long as I can remember. When I was applying to middle schools, I discovered that I could sing (in order to go to the best schools in my district, one had to apply with a “major”). I was accepted to and attended one, where I “majored” in vocal music. I then continued my vocal music studies at LaGuardia Arts HS (the Fame school). There, I engaged in numerous theatrical endeavors and discovered that I loved acting just as much as singing. After graduating from LaGuardia, I went to Brandeis University, where I double-majored in Theater Arts and Music and minored in Secondary Education. Additionally, I participated in a great deal of extracurricular (primarily musical) theatre. I knew that after graduating, I wanted to stay in NYC to pursue a professional acting career and obtain a Master’s degree. After returning home, I received an MA in Educational Theatre from NYU Steinhardt, and as a professional performer, I have performed in various plays, musicals, and operas in NY and regionally.
What’s your creative process like? How does it differ – if at all – for a children’s style show?
My creative process involves a great deal of character work. I don’t subscribe to one particular acting method, as I believe they all have their own merits. In a nutshell, I investigate the text and (with significant contributions from my director and castmates) ask myself a myriad of questions to discover WHY my character does what he does. My personal process does not differ at all for children’s shows, as I believe all works should be performed with integrity- any performative differences (such as broad comedy) are inherent to the particular show.
How’s the show doing?
The show is doing very well! Jack has written a wonderful script and assembled a phenomenal cast and creative team. Every rehearsal has been a blast, and I can’t wait to tell our story in front of an audience!
Give us your opinion of New York theatre.
I love New York Theatre because there is such a wide variety to choose from as both a performer and an audience member! From Broadway musicals to off-off-Broadway plays, one can have very different but equally fulfilling theatrical experiences, even all in the same day!
I’m coming into A Hansel and Gretel Christmas straight from a musical called The Open Gate at Theater for the New City, which couldn’t be more different stylistically. I have no upcoming gigs scheduled at the moment, but I am hoping the next one allows me to continue to grow as an artist and serves as a step forward in my career.