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.
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 Collegewhere he was a member of the Zumbyes, Amherst’s oldest a cappella group, and the Glee Club. After graduating from Amherst College in 1991 with an B. A. in history, he studied acting and directing at now defunct StageWest in Springfield, Massachusetts. He then moved to New York to pursue acting.
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.  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 the 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. He won an Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding Featured Actor In A Musical, and a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Motel the tailor.
In 2009, Cariani joined the cast of the television show Numb3rs on CBS as physicist Otto Bahnoff. In 2011, his controversial and popular role as reporter Michael Falk on the IFC’s Onion News Network became recurring one. 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. 
As a playwright, Cariani is best known for his first play, Almost, Maine 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.
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. 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. Almost, Maine has also been translated into nearly 20 languages.
Cariani starred in the Transport Group’s 2014 Off-Broadway revival of Almost, Maine. The production was named one of the ten best of 2014 by The Advocate, 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.
Cariani’s second play, cul-de-sac premiered Off-Broadway in April 2006 in a Transport Group production, with Cariani performeing as Joe Jones. The New York Times described cul-de-sac as “charming, witty and macabre.” The play is not yet published as Cariani is still working it; a production at High Point University is slated for Spring 2016.
Cariani’s third play, Last Gas premiered at Portland Stage Company (Portland, Maine) in 2010.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.” 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 another…it’s an undeniable winner.” The play ran at Opera House Arts, Stonington Opera House, Maine, in 2013 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 the Portland Stage Company in the spring of 2013,and was produced by Hartford TheaterWorks in 2014. The play ran Off-Broadway in February 2015 at the Royal Family Performing Arts Space.
- As You Like It (1997) – Sylvius (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival)
- The Winter’s Tale (1998) – The Clown (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival)
- Much Ado About Nothing (1998) – Verges (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival)
- Twelfth Night (1999) – Andrew Agucheek (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival)
- It’s My Party (1999) – Ted (Arclight Theater Company)
- The Unrepeatable Moment (2003) – Robert (The Lark)
- Fiddler on the Roof (2004) – Motel (Broadway)
- Modern Orthodox (2005) – Hershel (Kara Medoff/Ars Nova at Dodger Stages)
- Two Gentlemen of Verona (2005) – Speed (The Public Theater)
- Cul-de-sac (2006) – Joe (Transport Group)
- The Front Page (2007) – Mr. Pincus (Williamstown Theatre Festival)
- Minsky’s (2009) – Jason (Center Theatre Group/The Ahmanson)
- The Mystery of Irma Vep (2009) – Lord Edgar, et al. (The Old Globe)
- Much Ado About Nothing (2011) – Dogberry (The Old Globe)
- The Tempest (2011) – Trinculo (The Old Globe)
- Almost, Maine (2014) – (Transport Group)
- Love/Sick (2015) – Various (Off-Broadway)
- Something Rotten (2015) – Nigel Bottom (Broadway, St. James Theatre)
|Productions||Date of Productions|
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
|Apr 22, 2015|
|Fiddler on the Roof
[Musical, Comedy, Drama, Revival]
|Show(s) (listed chronologically,
most recent first)
|Almost, Maine||Playwright||The Gym at Judson|
|Almost, Maine||Actor||Pete / Jimmy / Steve / Randy / Dave||The Gym at Judson|
|Almost, Maine||Playwright||Daryl Roth Theatre|
|Two Gentlemen of Verona||Actor||Speed||Delacorte Theater|
|Modern Orthodox||Actor||Hershel||New World Stages Stage III|
|It’s My Party (And I’ll Die If I Want To)||Actor||N/A||ArcLight Theatre|
|2001||Kissing Jessica Stein||Chuck|
|2001||Scotland, PA||Ed the ‘not-too-bright’ Cop|
|2001||The Shaft||Security Guard Gary|
|2004||Messengers||Derek the Cop|
|2008||High Street Plumbing||Big Boy||Short|
|2013||Sleeping With The Fishes||Louis Belsky|
|2014||Deliver us from Evil||Zookeeper|
|2014||Child of Grace||Ollie|
|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|
|2011||The Onion News Network||Michael Falk||IFC, 5 episodes|
|2014||The Good Wife||Stuart||CBS|
Awards and Nominations
|2004||Nominated||Best Featured Actor in a Musical||The 58th Annual Tony Awards|
|2004||Won||Best Featured Actor in a Musical||2004 Outer Critics Circle Award|
- Williams, Roger M. “One Up on Shakespeare” Amheart Magazine, Winter 2012 (amherst.edu), accessed March 17, 2015
- “Zumbyes alumni” thezumbyes.com, September 28, 2014
- Burns-Fusaro, Nancy. “10 questions with playwright John Cariani” thewesterlysun.com, February 2, 2015
- Jones, Kenneth and Lefkowitz, David. “Abraham and Van Patten Are Couple With No Time to Lose in ‘It’s My Party…’ “ playbill.com, August 4, 1999
- Fiddler on the Roof playbillvault
- Hernandez. ” ‘Wicked’, ‘Wonderful Town’, ‘I Am My Own Wife’ Top 2004 Outer Critics Circle Awards” playbill.com, May 2, 2004
- “2004 Tony Award AWard Winners” New York Times, 2004, accessed March 17, 1015
- ” ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Cast and Crew” allmovie.com, accessed March 17, 2015
- “Official Site, ‘Almost, Maine’” almostmaine.com, accessed March 17, 2015
- Rampell, Catherine. “Theater censorship is alive and well” washingtonpost.com, October 27, 2014
- Transport Group
- New York Theater 2014 advocate.com
- Gans, Andrew. “Transport Group’s ‘Almost, Maine’ Will Be Taped for Archives; One Scene Will Be Filmed Two Ways” playbill.com, February 25, 2014
- cul-de-sac transportgroup.org
- Horn, Miriam. “Review. ‘cul-de-sac’: A Study in Suburban Doldrums” The New York Times, May 3, 2006
- Feeney, Steve. ” Theater Review. Last Gas a full tank of unfulfilled desires” Portland Press Herald, November 7, 2010
- Considine, Basil. Playwright John Cariani talks ‘Almost, Maine’ and ‘Love/Sick’ “ tcdailyplanet.net, March 26, 2014
- Morphy, Marcia. “Review: Geva’s ‘Last Gas’ an everyday love story” democratandchronicle.com, January 13, 2014
- “Talk back to Maine playwright John Cariani” themaineedge.com, February 6, 2013
- “That Thing Called Love” pressherald.com, 2013
- Clement, Olivia. “John Cariani’s ‘Love/Sick’, Co-Starring the Playwright, Begins Tonight Off-Broadway” playbill.com, February 6, 2015
- Klein, Alvin. ” ‘Much Ado’ Reigns On Stage at Boscobel”, The New York Times, August 9, 1998: WE9, ISSN 03624331
- Something Rotten broadway.com, accessed March 17, 2015