Justin Warner

Justin Warner

Justin Warner is a New York-based playwright, lyricist, and librettist. His plays have been produced in more than 30 cities, including NYC, London, LA, DC, Toronto, San Francisco, Austin, and Miami. He was recently named a Finalist for the 2019 Kleban Prize in Musical Theatre, and is presently a finalist for a Jonathan Larson Grant. Currently, he's writing the libretto on a musical adaptation of Andrew...
Justin Warner is a New York-based playwright, lyricist, and librettist. His plays have been produced in more than 30 cities, including NYC, London, LA, DC, Toronto, San Francisco, Austin, and Miami. He was recently named a Finalist for the 2019 Kleban Prize in Musical Theatre, and is presently a finalist for a Jonathan Larson Grant. Currently, he's writing the libretto on a musical adaptation of Andrew Solomon's best-selling non-fiction book FAR FROM THE TREE, in collaboration with composer Robert Maggio, lyricist Kristin Maloney, and director Michael Greif. The show was workshopped at Vineyard Arts in the summer of 2018.

Productions include the full-length plays AMERICAN WHUP-ASS (AlterTheater, San Rafael, CA; Global Age Project winner) and IMPOSTORS (NEUROFest, NYC; Union Theatre, London; Moving Arts, LA; Wichita State University), the children's musical CINDERELLA'S MICE (Vital Theatre, NYC, & tour), for which he wrote the book and additional lyrics, his full evening of short comedies, SCREWUPS: LITTLE PLAYS ABOUT BIG MISTAKES (Manhattan Theatre Source, NYC & Birmingham Festival Theatre, AL), three commissioned Gilbert & Sullivan adaptations for middle school performers, and short plays in theaters all over the US. His musicals THE MASKED ZINFANDEL and THE PASSION OF ED WOOD have been produced, developed, or showcased at the ASCAP/Disney Workshop with Stephen Schwartz, Raw Impressions, Manhattan Musical Theater Lab, the Triad, the York Theatre, and the Greenwich House Music School Theater Lab. His work is published by Samuel French and Original Works, and his monologues are published in many Smith & Kraus anthologies.

As a graduate student, Justin won the Kennedy Center-ACTF's Region II playwriting contest. He has also been a finalist for the Princess Grace Award, the Javits Fellowship in the Humanities, and the Actors Theatre of Louisville/City Theatre's National Ten-Minute Play contest (seven times).

Justin's play A WIRE IN WATER was commissioned by the EST-Sloan Foundation. He is a member and occasional moderator of the Tony Award-winning BMI Musical Theater Workshop, and a winner of its Jerry Harrington Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement. Other credits include a Peabody Award as part of the writing staff of "Kinetic City Super Crew," a children's radio show funded by the National Science Foundation.

Justin is a full-time Lecturer in Expository Writing at NYU, presently teaching in the Tisch School of the Arts. He has written for American Theatre, New Scientist, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Popular Science, Newsday, MediaPost, the American Association for the Advancement of Science's "Science Update" podcast, and many others. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Project Y Theatre's Playwrights Group, and an Associate Artist with AlterTheater in San Rafael, California.

Plays

  • AMERICAN WHUP-ASS
    A race for Nevada’s Senate seat quickly devolves into an actual wrestling match, live at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, with the loser ceding the election. Originally produced by AlterTheater in San Rafael, CA, the play spoofs the combative, idea-free, hyper-masculine atmosphere of our political process, which promises to be even sillier in the coming presidential election. AMERICAN WHUP-ASS was a winner of...
    A race for Nevada’s Senate seat quickly devolves into an actual wrestling match, live at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, with the loser ceding the election. Originally produced by AlterTheater in San Rafael, CA, the play spoofs the combative, idea-free, hyper-masculine atmosphere of our political process, which promises to be even sillier in the coming presidential election. AMERICAN WHUP-ASS was a winner of the Aurora Theatre’s Global Age Project, a competition for plays that tackle 21st-century concerns, and critics hailed AlterTheater’s production "the funniest, as well as the timeliest, show you will see this season" (Pacific Sun) and “as finely crafted as a real campaign” (Marin Independent Journal).
  • HEAD GAMES
    As promised, King Herod brings Salomé the head of John the Baptist. But is that really what she wanted?

    “Wildly amusing” - Off-Off Broadway Review
    “Funnier than anything I’ve seen on television in years... uproarious” – Off-Off Online

    Published and licensed by Original Works Publishing as part of SCREWUPS: LITTLE PLAYS ABOUT BIG MISTAKES (https://www.originalworksonline.com...
    As promised, King Herod brings Salomé the head of John the Baptist. But is that really what she wanted?

    “Wildly amusing” - Off-Off Broadway Review
    “Funnier than anything I’ve seen on television in years... uproarious” – Off-Off Online

    Published and licensed by Original Works Publishing as part of SCREWUPS: LITTLE PLAYS ABOUT BIG MISTAKES (https://www.originalworksonline.com/SCREWUPS-by-Justin-Warner_p_148.html)
  • THE MASKED ZINFANDEL
    Book & Lyrics by Justin Warner, Music by Peter Yarin

    Long ago, in the Grand Fiefdom of Helvetica, a Zorro-like hero-outlaw known as The Masked Zinfandel saves the peasants from persecution at the hands of the evil Lord Governor Dredmoor. One day, the Zinfandel's number-one fan, Sam the Shoemaker, discovers that the Zinfandel and Dredmoor are actually in cahoots, staging phony rescues...
    Book & Lyrics by Justin Warner, Music by Peter Yarin

    Long ago, in the Grand Fiefdom of Helvetica, a Zorro-like hero-outlaw known as The Masked Zinfandel saves the peasants from persecution at the hands of the evil Lord Governor Dredmoor. One day, the Zinfandel's number-one fan, Sam the Shoemaker, discovers that the Zinfandel and Dredmoor are actually in cahoots, staging phony rescues while mutually exploiting the masses. A fight ensues, the Zinfandel is knocked out, and Sam takes the Zinfandel's mask and steals his identity in order to restore justice to Helvetica. But he soon finds out being a hero isn't as straightforward as he thought it was.

    Semi-finalist, FWD: Theatre Project, Chicago, 2015
    Semi-finalist, National Musical Theater Conference, O'Neill

    Songs featured in the NEO5 Benefit Concert at the York Theatre (NYC), and in the official BMI Workshop podcast and songbook.
  • THE PASSION OF ED WOOD
    Book & Lyrics by Justin Warner, Music by Rob Kendt

    THE PASSION OF ED WOOD is about infamous Z-movie director Ed Wood, creator of iconic bombs like GLEN OR GLENDA, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, and PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. The musical appears to be Ed's life story, narrated (reluctantly) by Ed's hero ORSON WELLES. In fact, it's a hallucination that Ed experiences as he lays dying in a...
    Book & Lyrics by Justin Warner, Music by Rob Kendt

    THE PASSION OF ED WOOD is about infamous Z-movie director Ed Wood, creator of iconic bombs like GLEN OR GLENDA, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, and PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. The musical appears to be Ed's life story, narrated (reluctantly) by Ed's hero ORSON WELLES. In fact, it's a hallucination that Ed experiences as he lays dying in a friend's bedroom in 1978. Ed's had a vision that if he can just tell his own story right, he'll finally be appreciated.

    While Ed portrays himself as a visionary who overcame naysayers, ORSON constantly confronts Ed with his failures, and the ghost of his old friend BELA LUGOSI gently invites him to let go and move on. Ultimately, THE PASSION OF ED WOOD challenges a typical American narrative: What if you follow your dream, but you're incompetent? Are you wasting your time, or can you still reap rewards?
  • GHOST LITE
    A comic rewrite of HAMLET, Act 1, scene 5.

    Finalist, Red Bull Theatre's Short New Play Festival competition, NYC, 2014
    Finalist, National Ten-Minute Play Contest, Actors Theatre of Louisville, 2012

    “The best short play of this year’s 10 by 10 Festival... Wonderfully witty.” - Triangle Arts and Entertainment

    “Most of the plays went for laughs, much to the...
    A comic rewrite of HAMLET, Act 1, scene 5.

    Finalist, Red Bull Theatre's Short New Play Festival competition, NYC, 2014
    Finalist, National Ten-Minute Play Contest, Actors Theatre of Louisville, 2012

    “The best short play of this year’s 10 by 10 Festival... Wonderfully witty.” - Triangle Arts and Entertainment

    “Most of the plays went for laughs, much to the delight of this packed house, with the winner of the evening being Ghost Lite.” - CVNC Arts Journal
  • PARENT INTERVIEW
    A New York couple might get their daughter into an elite preschool – but it will cost them more than money.

    Winner, 19th Annual NYC 15-Minute Play Festival, 2013: Best Play, Audience Favorite, Best Actress (Christine Brooks Bokhour), Best Actor (Dan Hodapp), Best Director (Jim Santangeli)

    Finalist, National Ten-Minute Play Contest, Actors Theatre of Louisville/City Theatre
    ...
    A New York couple might get their daughter into an elite preschool – but it will cost them more than money.

    Winner, 19th Annual NYC 15-Minute Play Festival, 2013: Best Play, Audience Favorite, Best Actress (Christine Brooks Bokhour), Best Actor (Dan Hodapp), Best Director (Jim Santangeli)

    Finalist, National Ten-Minute Play Contest, Actors Theatre of Louisville/City Theatre

    "Parent Interview by Justin Warner was the cream of the proverbial crop" -- Outerstage
    “One of the funniest shorts [is] Justin Warner’s Parent Interview” – Miami ArtZine
    “Other standouts are Parent Interview...” - Miami Sun-Sentinel
  • A WIRE IN WATER
    Did Alexander Graham Bell steal a key element of the telephone patent? That question was hotly disputed in headlines and multiple trials in the late 19th century, and some scholars today believe he did. A WIRE IN WATER explores the complicated relationships and conflicting interests that may have forced Bell's hand, and his struggle to neutralize his actions after the fact.

    Commissioned by...
    Did Alexander Graham Bell steal a key element of the telephone patent? That question was hotly disputed in headlines and multiple trials in the late 19th century, and some scholars today believe he did. A WIRE IN WATER explores the complicated relationships and conflicting interests that may have forced Bell's hand, and his struggle to neutralize his actions after the fact.

    Commissioned by the EST-Sloan Foundation. Semi-finalist, nuVoices, Actors Theatre of Charlotte, 2014.