Warner Brown works with equal ease on both sides of the Atlantic. His work in straight plays and musical theatre encompasses everything from the traditional form to the radical avant garde. With Michael Feinstein, he has been commissioned by MGM to write the Broadway musical of The Thomas Crown Affair and, with Adding Machine composer Joshua Schmidt, he has been commissioned by Florentine Opera, Milwaukee to write the libretto to the opera Harley’s Place, to be directed by Michael Gieleta. He has been commissioned by Eclipse Live to write the musical Son Of A Preacher Man and commissioned by the St Petersburg Theatre of Musical Comedy in Russia to write the musical A Simple Time. He has been commissioned by Bill Kenwright Films to write the screenplay for the movie A Minute To Midnight. Warner’s new musical The Gold Room, again with music by Feinstein, was recently workshopped with Victoria Clark, Melissa Errico and Jonathan Groff, directed by Jeremy Sams. It is scheduled for production in 2017. Warner is part of the consortium, including choreographer Arlene Phillips and musical director Mike Dixon, for the new internet-based project Reality – The Musical.
For BBC Worldwide, Warner wrote the arena show Walking With Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular, creating an entirely new genre of theatrical presentation. His work on this has won many international awards, including the Billboard Magazine Creative Content Award. Two companies have toured internationally – playing in venues from Madison Square Garden to the Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai – making it ‘the most popular family show of all time’. An episode of CSI: Las Vegas was based upon the show and it has even earned the ultimate honour of being parodied on The Simpsons.
The Cole Porter Trusts granted Warner stage rights to the songs of Cole Porter for his dark original musical The Black and White Ball, which opened in London. With director Jonathan Butterell, he is developing the musical Elsie de Wolfe Isn’t Dead and with New York composer Jenny Giering he is developing the platform musical The Collector.
Warner has also written a number of plays, including Laughing Dove, Wavelength and The Prospero Suite, directed by John Doyle. He has worked extensively in Europe, beginning with Musical Of The Year – starring the unlikely combination of Sir Peter Ustinov and Al Jarreau – and directed by Julia McKenzie. His musical, Garbo – The Musical, received its world premiere at Oscarsteatern in Stockholm, Sweden. For this he wrote book and lyrics, with music by Michael Reed and ‘Meatloaf’ rock legend Jim Steinman. Warner’s musical Flickers premiered at Broadway’s Circle-In-The Square Theater. For Gillian Lynne, and at the request of Diana, Princess Of Wales, he wrote Dance For Life at London’s Her Majesty’s Theatre, starring Moira Shearer, Darcey Bussell, Irek Mukhamedov and Sir Derek Jacobi.
Warner has extensive writing credits for the BBC and was Script Associate of the BBC Classic Musicals Series, for which he adapted fourteen musicals and directed such artists as Anthony Newley, Tyne Daley, Barbara Cook, Julia Migenes and Steven Berkoff. He has music publishing deals with Warner/Chappell Music, Josef Weinberger and Samuel French for a number of his musical theatre works.
Warner began his London career by having two works open within two weeks of each other: the political study Scandal and the musical The Biograph Girl, written with his mentor Irma la Douce composer/lyricist David Heneker. The Biograph Girl went on to play worldwide and, in a centenary tribute to Mr Heneker, Warner was commissioned to write a new version of the classic Heneker/Cross musical Half A Sixpence. This went out on a year-long UK national tour, produced by Bill Kenwright, starring Gary Wilmot.
Further work in London includes Six For Gold, a critically-acclaimed series of six one-act musical plays performed over a two-night cycle; his new version of Cinderella at the London Palladium; the ‘musical noir’ Tallulah For A Day, starring Marti Webb, and the revue Sleep With Friends, starring Janie Dee. His musical fable The House On The Corner was reviewed as “the class act” of the Edinburgh International Festival and David Heneker and Warner Brown were the subjects of the BBC 2 TV documentary The Making Of A Musical.
In October 2012 Warner inaugurated The Sidney Brown Memorial Award in honour of his late father. This international Award is judged by a panel of industry luminaries, including Nica Burns of Nimax Theatres, Nikolai Foster of Curve, Leicester and Kent Nicholson of Playwrights Horizons in New York, and goes to the best new unproduced musical of the year. It was presented by Michael Ball. In 2013 the Award was re-named The S&S Award, now in honour of both his late parents, and was presented at a special gala at the St James Theatre by Don Black. At the 2014 Gala, again at the St James, the Award was presented by Nigel Harman and at the 2015 Gala by Janie Dee. In 2017 the Award is due to expand, with a gala in New York City.