November 26, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
37°F

Highland High gets up close with actor, playwright

Actor John Cariani, left, teaches a Highland High School class on Thursday about acting and playwriting. He authored “Almost, Maine,” the play the school is putting on in November, in 2004. (Photo by Maria Kacik, The Gazette.)

Actor John Cariani, left, teaches a Highland High School class on Thursday about acting and playwriting. He authored “Almost, Maine,” the play the school is putting on in November, in 2004. (Photo by Maria Kacik, The Gazette.)

GRANGER TWP. — Highland High School students contemplated Thursday what would happen if male model Fabio and socialite Paris Hilton had discussions about the swine flu.

Cariani

Cariani

It wasn’t study-hall day-dreaming gone overboard. It was a class assignment aimed at getting students to think about creative writing and acting.

“Why do you go to school? To learn the rules. But inside the rules and structure lies freedom,” playwright and Tony-nominated actor John Cariani said about writing as the students completed the imagination exercise.

Cariani, of New York City, has starred on “Law and Order” and in several plays, musicals and movies. He wrote his first play, “Almost, Maine,” in 2004, and since then it’s been produced by 300 theaters throughout the country.

Highland will be one of the next to put on the play, which features several 10-minute dialogues between couples falling in and out of love in a fictional Maine town.

“I think it’s a great show for the high school students to put on because who doesn’t love a good love story? It’s sort of what makes the world go round,” said Kathy Fisher, high school drama director.

Cariani said he’s worked on one other high school production and several college and professional productions of his play.
High school students “bring a freshness that I wish I had,” he said. “Older actors find the sadness in the play and high school actors find the joy — and both are good things.”

Fisher has cast 17 students in the play, but will look to Cariani to help her figure out which students take which roles.
“The cool thing (about ‘Almost, Maine’) is anyone can play any of the parts,” Cariani said.

Fisher said some of the more advanced acting students will be able to take on multiple roles, bringing different characteristics to each.

“Almost, Maine” will be performed at the Black Box Studio Theater at the high school, 3880 Ridge Road, at 7 p.m. Nov. 5-7 and 12-14. Seating is limited. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $8 for adults and $4 for students.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.