Cariani Exits Fiddler March 13, Converting to Orthodox

By Kenneth Jones
March 13, 2005

John Cariani, Tony Award-nominated in 2004 for his loose-limbed portrayal of Motel the tailor in Fiddler on the Roof, leaves the revival March 13 to join the Off-Broadway company of Modern Orthodox.

A replacement for the choice role of Motel, who sings "Miracle of Miracles" in the famed musical, has not been named, but the actor can expect to work at least into the summer. A production spokesman confirmed that Harvey Fierstein and Andrea Martin have extended their contracts (respectively, they play Tevye and Golde) into mid-August at the Minskoff Theatre.

The new leads in the David Leveaux staging got solid reviews and good word of mouth in recent weeks, boosting the box office. Fierstein and Martin replaced Alfred Molina and Randy Graff Jan. 4.

This new production of the Joseph Stein-Jerome Bock Sheldon Harnick musical opened Feb. 26, 2004, and is produced by James L. Nederlander, Stewart F. Lane/Bonnie Comley, Harbor Entertainment, Terry Allen Kramer, Bob Boyett/Lawrence Horowitz and Clear Channel Entertainment.

Meanwhile, over at the Off-Broadway production of Daniel Goldfarb's Modern Orthodox, original leads Jason Biggs, Molly Ringwald and Craig Bierko left the show March 6, to be replaced in the coming weeks by Hunter Foster (in the Bierko role) and Sarah Chalke (in the Ringwald role). Cariani joins in the Biggs role March 15.

Jenn Harris will continue in the role she created in the New York premiere of Modern Orthodox. The James Lapine-directed play opened Dec. 6, 2004, at Dodger Stages; previews began Nov. 11.

Cariani will play "lovable schmuck" Hershel Klein in the comedy about Hershel's impact "on a young Jewish couple of lapsed faith."

Harris is a veteran of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, having acted there in God of Vengeance, The Winter's Tale, Once in a Lifetime and Street Scene. In New York, she's been seen in Plank Project, Will You Please Shut Up and Pains of Youth.

Chalke stars on TV's "Scrubs" and Foster is known for Urinetown, Little Shop of Horrors and for the current Kennedy Center run of Mr. Roberts (he plays Pulver).