Family and forgiveness take center stage in 'Your Best One' at Capital Repertory Theatre

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ALBANY, N.Y. — When asked what tempted him to spend January in Albany, which can be a bleak month, Gordon Greenberg replied, "Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill and the brownies at Miranda's Deli on Columbia Street." Clearly, Greenberg is no stranger either to Albany or Capital Repertory Theatre.

Greenberg is in town to direct "Your Best One" for Cap Rep in downtown Albany, one block away from Miranda's. He says Mancinelli-Cahill, Cap Rep's producing director "drew me to it by sending me the script with the note, `This would be terrific for you.'" The food at his favorite Albany deli is a bonus.

In a recent telephone interview, the 50-year old director said, "She was right. It spoke to me as a person at mid-life. It's an articulate play, wedded to humanity. It asks how do you define being a good person, a good child, a good parent, a good husband? It asks the essential question, `How do you cope with imperfection?'"

"Your Best One" — which begins previews Friday and officially opens Tuesday — is about a happy couple, Richard and David, who seem to have it all. They are in a loving relationship, both have good jobs which permits them to have an extremely comfortable lifestyle. When David initiates the process of adopting a young boy, Richard walks away from the relationship.

Eight years later, when David faces a health crisis, Richard returns asking for forgiveness for his past behavior. Clearly, David and the now-teenager, Josh, have difficulty with the idea of letting Richard reenter their lives.

In a news release from Capital Rep, Mancinelli-Cahill wrote, "It's a play about family and forgiveness. "We've all had to say I'm sorry to a family member for the mistakes we made at one point or another," she continued. "Conversely, we've all been in a position where we are the ones being asked for forgiveness."

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Greenberg said that what sets this play apart from a typical family drama is its appeal to adults. "It's probably not a play that will resonate with really young people. I don't think a 12-year old will grasp the subtleties of a long term relationship. `Your Best One' is a play about mature, nuanced, issues. I love that about it."

Greenberg has directed at Cap Rep almost annually for the past decade. He is usually given the honored slot of directing the world premieres. In recent years he's directed "Paris Time" (2018), "Assisted Loving," (2017), "Blue Sky Boys" (2016) and "How Water Behaves" (2015). All were world premieres that were developed at Next Act, Cap Rep's play reading series.

"Your Best One," which runs through Feb. 9, is a regional premiere and this is only its second production. It was written by West Coast television and film writer Meridith Friedman, whose work has long been an audience favorite at the play reading series.

You might notice that Greenberg was not here last year. That's because he was tending to his own project. He co-wrote and directed the musical "Holiday Inn: An Irving Berlin Musical," which was produced by the Roundabout Theater on Broadway in 2016. It was filmed and shown on PBS television as a companion piece to the 1942 Bing Crosby-Fred Astaire film from which the musical is adapted. It's turned into a mini-industry as it is produced frequently by theater companies throughout the country and the world.

Greenberg will soon bring another show to Broadway. He's directing "The Heart of Rock and Roll," a Huey Lewis musical, which opens in NYC next season. Combined with his recent successful and much-honored production of "Guys and Dolls" in London, it is clear that Greenberg is a major player in the world of theater.

However, he works to adjust his busy schedule to find time to work in Albany every year. The reason, he says, is his admiration of Mancinelli-Cahill. "Not only do I respect her dedication to new plays," he said, "but she has a remarkable ability to cast them with the perfect actors."

About the cast of "Your Best One," he said, "It's an honor and a luxury to be able to dig deeply into a play of substance. I am so grateful to have skilled actors who also have deep emotional intellect. This combination doesn't always happen in theater, in general. But it's not an infrequent occurrence at Capital Rep. It's certainly the case with `Your Best One.'"


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