Playwright and Actor John Cariani

Playwright and Actor John Cariani

The Public Theatre in Lewiston is presenting "Last Gas," a comedy by actor and playwright John Cariani.

Cariani grew up in Presque Isle and he is that rarest of writers: a playwright who has become successful telling stories set in rural Maine.

He's best known for writing "Almost, Maine," which has become one of the most-produced plays in the world (it's been translated to Flemish, among other languages, and recently went up in The Philippines).

"Last Gas" was first performed in 2010 and Cariani has been editing and re-writing it ever since. He's trying to make it leaner.

"I love where I'm from. And I love Maine and I love Northern Maine. I love the people from there," Cariani explains, "I feel like people from Northern Maine are kind of ignored in the artistic and cultural landscape."

He's committed to telling the stories of everyday people, people who fall in love and overcome challenges everyday but aren't the fabulous types that tend to show up in regular media. "Sometimes it's kind of cool to see people who don't seem like the most spectacular people... when you tell a story like 'Last Gas' and watch them work through some pretty difficult situations you realize they're pretty awesome people," he says with a chuckle. "And I think the most awesome people solve problems and approach problems with love. And that's what I think is interesting about this play."

This past summer Cariani finished his run as one of the leads in the Broadway musical "Something Rotten." He's especially excited about his next project, in part because of a Maine connection: he'll be acting in a new off-Broadway musical with Tony Shalhoub, who went to what is now the University of Southern Maine.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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