Age and Hometown: “Whatever the role requires”; St. Louis, MO
Current Role: A Broadway debut as Rosie, the sweet and outgoing Dynamo who joins her gal pals in belting “Dancing Queen” and other ABBA hits in Mamma Mia!
Don’t I Know You? This self-proclaimed “Broadway late bloomer” acted in musicals as a kid, but after graduating from NYU, she moved to Los Angeles and ended up staying for more than a decade, nabbing a slew of character roles, including Roger Bart’s “fake girlfriend” on Desperate Housewives and Tony Shalhoub’s librarian on Monk. As a crafts expert in the film Morning Glory, “I got to do papier mache with Diane Keaton,” Cohn says with a laugh. “But my biggest claim to fame is The Suite Life of Zach and Cody,” in which Cohn played the school secretary. “Adults think I look familiar, and kids know my lines because Disney shows get repeated so much.”
Writing Vs. Acting: While living in L.A., Cohn began collaborating on scripts with Lauren Bowles (now known as witchy waitress Holly Cleary on True Blood). Introduced to composer Curtis Moore and a then-known lyricist named Amanda Green, the two Laurens wrote the book for a pair of successful satirical musicals, Up a Week Without a Paddle and Once Upon a Primetime. Soon, Cohn recalls, “A lot of big, important people began approaching us about writing on a sitcom and asking if we had movie ideas. But neither of us was ready to turn away from acting.” In fact, Cohn was feeling an entirely different urge: to return to New York and concentrate on theater.
Take a Chance on Her: It takes guts to leave a successful career on one coast for an uncertain—and less lucrative—life pursuing musical theater. “I had some summer stock auditions where people said, ‘You realize that we’re going to pay you less per week than you are making in a day on these [TV jobs],” Cohn says with a chuckle. “I said, ‘Oh, I know!’ But I was on a path toward a goal I’d wanted to pursue all my life.” Now that she’s bringing her “spirit of giddiness” to Rosie in Mamma Mia!, Cohn is feeling anything but jaded. “The first time I walked on the Winter Garden Theatre stage for rehearsal, I cried,” she admits. “When the Dynamos come out of the ground at the finale, I want to well up every single time. My dream has come true!”