April 1, 2013

Premiering at Portland Stage: That thing called love

It's intoxicating, it's infuriating, it's ever-elusive. Maine playwright John Cariani tries to pin it down with his latest, 'Love/Sick,' which is getting its world premiere at Portland Stage.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Tim (Torsten Hillhouse) tries to talk his bride-to-be Celia (Abigail Killeen) through her cold feet in “Love/Sick.”

Aaron Flacke photo courtesy of Portland Stage Company

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Cariani also collaborated with Portland Stage on his plays “Almost, Maine” and “Last Gas.”

Additional Photos Below


WHERE: Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave.

WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday. Additional performances at 7:30 p.m. April 16 and 2 p.m. April 18. Through April 21.

HOW MUCH: $39 to $44; discounts for seniors and students

INFO: 774-0465; portlandstage.org


CAST: Patricia Buckley, Torsten Hillhouse, Abigail Killeen and David Mason

"I want people from Maine to know that it didn't do well in New York (but) people from other parts of the country would seem fascinated by the place. It was not just a cute little play that did well at Portland Stage," he said.

He also got some sweet revenge. While the Times barely blinked when "Almost, Maine" opened in New York, the paper just gave it a very good review for a recent production in Hartford.

"That's crazy," Cariani said, noting the irony of the conflicting reviews seven years apart in the same esteemed newspaper. "It was neat to feel like a failure -- and then not."


One more note about "Almost, Maine." Cariani said it is being readied for a movie production, most likely to be shot in 2014 in upstate New York.

He had hoped to shoot in Maine, but the financing and tax incentives offered by the state of New York are enticing, he said. "It's tough to make a movie in Maine," he said.

He's trying to recruit actress and former Portland resident Anna Kendrick for the film.

The fate of Cariani's other play, "Last Gas," evolves. It will get a professional production at Geva Theatre in Rochester, N.Y., next winter, and is slated for an Off-Broadway opening in 2014 as well.

Among the companies that have produced "Last Gas" is Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House in Deer Isle. Cariani has an association with Stonington, as well as Portland. Several winters in a row, he has led writing workshops in the community. This year, he worked with high school students.

Cariani is an influential role model, not just for Stonington but for the state as a whole, said Linda Nelson, Opera House Arts' executive director.

"It's important that people of all ages can see what it means to come from Maine and come from a very rural place and make a living in the arts," she said.

Most important, Nelson added, Cariani has not forgotten his roots. He celebrates them in his work and with his actions.

"He's committed to the state of Maine and committed to high-quality art that reflects what happens in rural places and not just New York," Nelson said. "There's not enough drama on stage that reflects Maine experiences and rural voices. John's work does that."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:


Twitter: pphbkeyes


Cariani in a TD Bank commercial:

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Additional Photos

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Abigail Killeen and Patricia Buckley in one of the 10 short plays of “Love/Sick.”

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For the characters played by Abigail Killeen and David Mason, it’s love at first sight in a big box store.

Aaron Flacke photo courtesy of Portland Stage Company


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