Clifton Park native, and now New York City thespian, comes back home to star in an award winning dramatic comedy on the Capital Repertory Theatre stage.
Amy Herzog’s Obie Award-winning dramatic comedy, “4000 Miles,” next up at Capital Repertory Theatre, Sept. 25 through Oct. 18, is a month in Leo’s life after an epic cross-country bike ride from his home in Seattle, to his grandmother’s couch in Greenwich Village. The 100-minute play — a Pulitzer Prize finalist that has been grabbing laughs at regional theatres nationwide — is a contemporary piece of work theREP’s producing artistic director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill describes as, “an unexpected Odd Couple for the 21st century.”
Leo has just hammered across the continent on his own, grinding the distance from Seattle to New York, where his grandmother, Vera opens her door to him. It’s a bit of a modern-day “Odd Couple,” with Leo as an idealistic millennial and Vera an ancient, 91-year-old, wise enough to know when to hold her tongue and when to lose it.
Cara O’Brien stars as Bec, Leo’s girlfriend from back home, who is attending college in New York City.
“One of the things that drew me to Bec is that she is a huge feminist,” said O’Brien, who attended Cap21 Conservatory in New York City after her high school days in upstate New York. “She stands her ground and knows what she believes in, which I think is a good trait for a young woman to have.”
O’Brien was exposed to the arts at a young age, having grown up in an extended family who was active in the local theatre community. By the time she was 15, she said she wanted to be an actor. She has since come up through the ranks at theREP, performing in both James Joyce’s “The Dead and Gypsy: A Musical Fable” (as the young Louise). She was also frequently seen at Cohoes Music Hall.
In addition to the character, the overall writing of the play impressed the young, 24-year-old actor.
“It’s a really wonderful play,” said O’Brien. “It has something for everyone. There’s comedy relief, and it tugs at your heartstrings. It will make you want to have those conversations you haven’t had with your grandmother.”
Mancinelli-Cahill notes Herzog’s use of contemporary colloquialisms; the characters speak as we all speak, she said. “It’s a moving, funny story about unlikely people taking care of each other,” said Mancinelli-Cahill. “I appreciate seeing a 91-year-old who still wakes up in the morning concerned about others around her. Goodness knows, I wish that for myself.”
Eileen Schuyler returns to theREP as the peppery Vera Joseph, a dyed-in-the-wool New York Jew who has largely replaced religion with politics. Schuyler, most recently seen as the Player Queen in Kevin McGuire’s Hamlet, is a longtime friend of the theatre, having appeared in “33 Variations,” “You Can’t Take It With You,” “Our Town” and “Fuddy Meers.” Known locally for extensive work with Stageworks/Hudson and the New York State Theatre Institute, she is an Audie Award winner and serves as artistic director of Theatre Voices.
Miles G. Jackson makes his Capital Repertory Theatre debut as Leo Joseph-Connell, a young man as shattered by the death of a friend as he is scattered in his feelings about life.
For more information, call the REP at 445-7469.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.