John Edward Cariani (born July 23, 1969) is an American actor and playwright. Cariani is best known 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 starred on Broadway in the Tony Award winning musical Something Rotten! as Nigel Bottom and starred in the Tony Award winning Broadway musical The Band's Visit.
Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, Cariani was eight 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, where 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 a B.A. in history, he studied acting and directing at now defunct StageWest in Springfield, Massachusetts. He then moved to New York at age 27 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, and also appeared in the TV series Ed
In 2001 he had a small role in the independent film, The Shaft and played Chuck in the film Kissing Jessica Stein He also played a villain in Warner Brothers' film Showtime (2002) and appeared on television in Big Apple. From 2001-2003, he played Perry in Law and Order: Criminal Intent. In 2002 he joined the cast of Law & Order, playing the role of forensic expert Julian Beck from 2002–2007. In 2003, he appeared in the film Robot Stories.
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. He also appeared in the films The Reunion and Messengers (1999).
In 2006, he appeared on the TV series Six Degrees. In 2008, appeared in the film High Street Plumbing. In 2009, Cariani joined the cast of the television show Numb3rs on CBS as physicist Otto Bahnoff. In 2011, Cariani played Henry in the short film Henry He also appeared in the film Certainty.
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, written and directed by Ed Simpson. 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.
In 2014, he played Ollie in the film Child of Grace.
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. He was also nominated for a Grammy Award as part of the original cast recording of Something Rotten. He left the production in July 2016.
In 2016, he performed in Transport Group's Off-Broadway productions of Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba. He also played Aaron Mulgrew on The Blacklist (TV Series).
In 2016, he performed in the Off-Broadway production of 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. It subsequently re-opened on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on November 9, 2017, with Cariani continuing in the cast.
In 2018, he played Hank in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and appeared in the film Thrasher Road.
In 2019, he played Marcellus Washburn in The Music Man at The Kennedy Center.
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. It was named the most-performed high school play not by a contemporary author in the United States in 2017. Cariani later adapted the play into a book of the same name.
Cariani's second play, cul-de-sac premiered Off-Broadway in April 2006 in a Transport Group production, with Cariani performing as Joe Jones. The New York Times described cul-de-sac as "charming, witty and macabre." 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, which was further revised following development at the Cape Cod Theatre Project.
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 High Point University in the fall of 2010, then was presented 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.
Cariani and his husband John Lloyd, a NYPD detective, have been together for 21 years and live in the Bronx.
|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 Aguecheek|
|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|
|2007||The Front Page||Mr. Pincus||Williamstown Theatre Festival|
|The Mystery of Irma Vep||Lord Edgar||The Old Globe Theatre|
|2011||Much Ado About Nothing||Dogberry|
|Something Rotten!||Nigel Bottom||Broadway|
|Come Back, Little Sheba||Postman/Milkman/Messenger||Transport Group|
|The Band's Visit||Itzik||Atlantic Theater Company|
|2017||The Band's Visit||Itzik||Broadway|
|2019||The Music Man||Marcellus Washburn||The Kennedy Center|
Awards and nominations
|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|
|Grammy Award||Best Musical Theater Album||Something Rotten!||Nominated|
|2019||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program (with the cast of The Band's Visit)||The Band's Visit||Won|