PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A Presque Isle High School graduate who is now an actor and playwright will return to his roots tonight when he addresses the PIHS Class of 2009.
John Cariani, who grew up in Presque Isle and graduated from Presque Isle High School in 1987, has appeared on NBC’s “Law & Order” and has taken roles in movies headlined by stars such as Christopher Walken and Robert DeNiro. He won critical acclaim in 2004 for his performance as Motel the tailor in the Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.” The role earned him an American Theatre Wing’s Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical.
Judy Cleaves, an administrative assistant at PIHS, said Thursday that Principal Eric Waddell contacted Cariani and asked him to speak.
Superintendent Gehrig Johnson said he and others are looking forward to the speech.
“He is one of our own,” he said Thursday. “This is very exciting, and I know the graduates will enjoy it.”
Cariani and his younger brother, Jeff, were in grade school when their family moved from Massachusetts to Presque Isle, according to previous BDN reports. Cariani’s father, Paul, served as president and chief executive officer of Maine Public Service Co., while his mother, Sheila, taught at Pine Street Elementary School.
Cariani graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in history.
“Law & Order” writers later gave him a regular role on the show as Julian Beck, an expert on blood, dirt and shoe tracks.
Cariani also has appeared on other television shows and in films.
In 2006, Cariani became a playwright after penning “Almost, Maine” a romantic comedy about residents of a town loosely based on Presque Isle.
The play debuted off-Broadway and was presented by the Portland Stage Company and the Penobscot Theatre Company in Bangor. It also was performed by a traveling Penobscot Theatre troupe.
Graduation is scheduled to be held at 7 tonight in the lower gym of the high school.