Christmas in New York with Hansel & Gretel !

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

MattQuebec.jpgMatthew 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!

What’s next?

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.


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