Attorney by Day, Performer by Night
Ben Cohen of Polsinelli wraps up role in DCPA production

by Jessica Folker

Scheduling is tricky when you’re a lawyer by day and have to make curtain call every evening.

For Ben Cohen, it helps that his firm, Polsinelli, is just two blocks from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, where he has taken the stage as part of the center’s production of the Tony Award-nominated musical “Indecent.” The show made its DCPA debut on Aug. 30 and finished its run Sunday.

It also helps that Polsinelli, where Cohen is of counsel, gave him a partial leave of absence to pursue what he called a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“It is an extraordinary piece of theater,” said Cohen of “Indecent,”which ran on Broadway in 2017.

“Indecent,” by Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel, is a play about a play. Based on true events, it tells the tale of playwright Sholem Asch, a Polish Jew, and his Yiddish play “God of Vengeance,” which was first performed in Berlin in 1907. Asch’s play about a same-sex romance between two women — a prostitute and the daughter of a brothel owner — finds success across Europe and is even performed to crowds in New York in the original Yiddish. But when “God of Vengeance” is performed in English on Broadway in 1923, the entire cast and producer are arrested for obscenity due to the play’s controversial content.

“It uses the underlying play and the obscenity arrest as a vehicle to tell the story of the Jewish experience from the beginning of the 20th century,” said Cohen, adding that the “incredibly poignant” way “Indecent” recounts the experience of immigration, assimilation and anti-Semitism has resonated among those he knows in the local Jewish community.

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