Playwright and actor John Cariani talked about his career, his childhood in rural Maine and his favorite chapter in his forthcoming novel in a candid on-stage interview Tuesday at One Longfellow Square.

Portland Press Herald arts writer Bob Keyes interviewed the affable Cariani in the latest installment of Maine Voices Live, an event series in which the newspaper staff interviews notable Mainers in front of an audience.

Cariani, who grew up in Presque Isle, is currently starring in a revival of his first play, “Almost, Maine,” at Portland Stage, where it premiered 15 years ago. The play, which he describes as “a love letter to northern Maine,” opened off-Broadway in 2006, has since become one of the most frequently produced plays in the United States and has been translated into nearly 20 languages. Other plays he has written include “Cul-de-sac,” “Last Gas” and “Love/Sick.”

As an actor, Cariani is best known for his “Law & Order” character, forensics tech Julian Beck, whom he played from 2002 to 2007 and who frequently shows up in reruns. He was nominated for a Tony Award for his role as Motel the Tailor in the 2004 Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” and played Itzik in “The Band’s Visit,” which won the Tony for best musical in 2018. 

Following his performances in “Almost, Maine,” he heads to Broadway for a revival of “Caroline, or Change.”


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