John Cariani

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John Cariani
Born (1969-07-23) July 23, 1969 (age 47)
Brockton, Massachusetts

John Edward Cariani (born July 23, 1969) is an award-winning American actor and an accomplished playwright. Cariani is best known to television viewers as the unwavering forensic expert Julian Beck in Law & Order. On stage, he earned a Tony Award nomination for his role as Motel the Tailor in the 2004 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof. As a playwright, he is best known for his first play, Almost, Maine, which has become one of the most frequently produced plays in the United States. He has starred on Broadway in the Tony Award winning musical Something Rotten! as Nigel Bottom.

Early life[edit]

Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, Cariani was 8 when his family moved to Presque Isle, Maine.

He attended Presque Isle High School where he was active in the music and theater programs. After graduating in 1987, he attended Amherst College,[1] where he was a member of the Zumbyes,[2] Amherst's oldest a cappella group, and the Glee Club. After graduating from Amherst College in 1991 with a B. A. in history, he studied acting and directing at now defunct StageWest in Springfield, Massachusetts.[3] He then moved to New York to pursue acting.

Acting career[edit]

Cariani spent his early years in New York working with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and acting in Off-Broadway plays, television commercials, and films.

His first break came in 1999 when he was cast in the Off-Broadway play It's My Party (And I'll Die if I Want To), starring F. Murray Abraham and Joyce Van Patten.[4] In 2000 Cariani was cast in the independent film, Scotland, PA. In 2001 he had a small role in the independent hit, The Shaft and then played a villain in Warner Brothers' film Showtime. In 2002 he joined the cast of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, playing the role of forensic expert Julian Beck from 2002-2007.

In 2004 Cariani made his Broadway debut in a revival of Fiddler on the Roof, starring Alfred Molina.[5] He won an Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding Featured Actor In A Musical,[6] and a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Motel the tailor.[7]

In 2009, Cariani joined the cast of the television show Numb3rs on CBS as physicist Otto Bahnoff.

From 2011-2012, he appeared in several sketches on IFC's Onion News Network, playing the role of "Michael Falk, Autistic Reporter."

In 2012 he starred opposite Ed Asner in the independent film Elephant Sighs. That same year, he guest-starred on the Showtime series, Homeland. In 2014 he had a guest starring role on The Good Wife, and later in the year played the role of "Zookeeper" in Sony Pictures Deliver Us From Evil.[8]

In 2015, he originated the role of Nigel Bottom in the Broadway musical Something Rotten!, for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.[9] He left the production in July 2016.[10]

He is performing in a new musical based on the film The Band's Visit, with the book by Itamar Moses and music and lyrics by David Yazbek. The musical opened at the Off-Broadway Linda Gross Theater, produced by the Atlantic Theatre Company, on November 11, 2016, closing on December 23, 2016.[11]


As a playwright, Cariani is best known for his first play, Almost, Maine[12] which premiered at the Portland Stage Company in 2004 and became the company's most successful production to date garnering critical acclaim and breaking box office records. It was named "one of the ten must-see shows" in The Wall Street Journal's regional roundup for 2004/2005 regional theater season.[12]

Almost, Maine opened Off-Broadway in 2006 at the Daryl Roth Theatre. Since then, Almost, Maine has become one of the most frequently produced plays, produced by over 2500 theater companies in North America to date.[12] In 2014, The Washington Post reported that Almost, Maine had replaced Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream as the most frequently produced play in North American High Schools.[12][13] Almost, Maine has also been translated into nearly 20 languages.

Cariani starred in the Transport Group's 2014 Off-Broadway revival of Almost, Maine.[14] The production was named one of the ten best of 2014 by The Advocate,[15] and was also recorded by the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.[16]

Cariani's second play, cul-de-sac premiered Off-Broadway in April 2006 in a Transport Group production,[17] with Cariani performing as Joe Jones. The New York Times described cul-de-sac as "charming, witty and macabre."[18] A production was presented at High Point University in April 2016, and the play was performed at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (New York City) in October 2016. Playbill reported that he was in the process of revising the piece.[19]

Cariani's third play, Last Gas premiered at Portland Stage Company (Portland, Maine) in 2010.[20] Cariani noted that " 'Almost, Maine' is almost a love letter to northern Maine and 'Last Gas' is a more realistic look at that part of the world."[21] Last Gas became the biggest selling three-week run in Portland Stage Company's history. It has been described as "a bittersweet romance about two people who lack the courage to admit they love one's an undeniable winner."[22] The play ran at Opera House Arts, Stonington Opera House, Maine, in 2013[23] and at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York in the winter of 2014. It was published by Dramatists Play Service in 2014.

Love/Sick is Cariani's most recent play. It premiered at High Point University in the fall of 2010, then was presented at the Portland Stage Company in the spring of 2013,[24] and was produced by Hartford TheaterWorks in 2014. The play ran Off-Broadway in February 2015 at the Royal Family Performing Arts Space.[25]


Film roles[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
2001 Kissing Jessica Stein Chuck
2001 Scotland, PA Ed the 'not-too-bright' Cop
2001 The Shaft Security Guard Gary
2002 Showtime Charlie Hertz
2003 Robot Stories Salesman
2004 The Reunion Scott Short
2004 Messengers Derek the Cop
2008 High Street Plumbing Big Boy Short
2011 Certainty Odd Interviewer
2011 Henry Henry Short
2012 Elephant Sighs Joel
2013 Sleeping With The Fishes Louis Belsky
2014 Deliver us from Evil Zookeeper
2014 Child of Grace Ollie
2015 Paper Dreams Ethan


Year Title Role Notes
2000 Ed Howard Pissle NBC, episode 1.2: "The World of Possibility"
2001 Big Apple ER Doctor CBS, Episode 1.7
2001-2003 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Perry NBC, 2 episodes
2002-2007 Law & Order CSU Tech Beck NBC, 26 episodes
2006 Six Degrees Blogger ABC
2009-2010 Numb3rs Otto Bahnoff CBS
2011 The Onion News Network Michael Falk IFC, 5 episodes
2012 Homeland Jeff Ricker Showtime, episode "The Choice"
2014 The Good Wife Stuart CBS
2016 The Blacklist Aaron Mulgrew NBC, episode "Drexel"

Stage appearances[edit]

Start year Production Role Notes
1997 As You Like It Sylvius Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1998 The Winter's Tale The Clown
Much Ado About Nothing Verges
1999 Twelfth Night Andrew Agucheek
It's My Party Ted Arclight Theatre Company
2003 The Unrepeatable Robert The Lark
2004 Fiddler on the Roof Motel Broadway
2005 Modern Orthodox Hershel Ars Nova
Two Gentlemen of Verona Speed Off-Broadway
2006 Cul-de-sac Joe Transport Group
2007 The Front Page Mr. Pincus Williamstown Theatre Festival
2009 Minsky's Jason The Ahmanson
The Mystery of Irma Vep Lord Edgar The Old Globe Theatre
2011 Much Ado About Nothing Dogberry
The Tempest Trinculo
2015 Love/Sick Various Off-Broadway
Something Rotten! Nigel Bottom Broadway
2016 The Band's Visit Itzik Off-Broadway

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
2004 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Musical Fiddler on the Roof Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Best Featured Actor in a Musical Won
2015 Something Rotten! Nominated

Playwriting bibliography[edit]

Year Title
2004 Almost, Maine
2006 cul-de-sac
2010 Last Gas
2012 Love/Sick


  1. ^ Williams, Roger M. "One Up on Shakespeare" Amheart Magazine, Winter 2012 (, accessed March 17, 2015
  2. ^ "Zumbyes alumni", September 28, 2014
  3. ^ Burns-Fusaro, Nancy. "10 questions with playwright John Cariani", February 2, 2015
  4. ^ Jones, Kenneth and Lefkowitz, David. "Abraham and Van Patten Are Couple With No Time to Lose in 'It's My Party...' ", August 4, 1999
  5. ^ Fiddler on the Roof playbillvault
  6. ^ Hernandez. " 'Wicked', 'Wonderful Town', 'I Am My Own Wife' Top 2004 Outer Critics Circle Awards", May 2, 2004
  7. ^ "2004 Tony Award AWard Winners" New York Times, 2004, accessed March 17, 1015
  8. ^ " 'Deliver Us From Evil' Cast and Crew", accessed March 17, 2015
  9. ^ Feinberg, Scott. "Tonys: 'Something Rotten!' Leads Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations" Hollywood Reporter, April 20, 2015
  10. ^ Rickwald, Bethany. "Broadway's 'Something Rotten!' Announces a New Trio of Stars", May 26, 2016
  11. ^ Clement, Olivia. "'The Band’s Visit' Musical Begins Tonight Off-Broadway" Playbill, November 11, 2016
  12. ^ a b c d "Official Site, 'Almost, Maine'", accessed March 17, 2015
  13. ^ Rampell, Catherine. "Theater censorship is alive and well", October 27, 2014
  14. ^ Transport Group
  15. ^ New York Theater 2014
  16. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Transport Group's 'Almost, Maine' Will Be Taped for Archives; One Scene Will Be Filmed Two Ways", February 25, 2014
  17. ^ cul-de-sac
  18. ^ Horn, Miriam. "Review. 'cul-de-sac': A Study in Suburban Doldrums" The New York Times, May 3, 2006
  19. ^ Viagas, Robert. " 'Almost, Maine' Author John Cariani Revises 'Cul-de-sac' for NY Revival" Playbill, October 5, 2016
  20. ^ Feeney, Steve. " Theater Review. Last Gas a full tank of unfulfilled desires" Portland Press Herald, November 7, 2010
  21. ^ Considine, Basil. Playwright John Cariani talks 'Almost, Maine' and 'Love/Sick' ", March 26, 2014
  22. ^ Morphy, Marcia. "Review: Geva's 'Last Gas' an everyday love story", January 13, 2014
  23. ^ "Talk back to Maine playwright John Cariani", February 6, 2013
  24. ^ "That Thing Called Love", 2013
  25. ^ Clement, Olivia. "John Cariani's 'Love/Sick', Co-Starring the Playwright, Begins Tonight Off-Broadway", February 6, 2015

External links[edit]