The Best of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The Grinning Man

The Grinning Man – A Dark and Dazzling Fairytale Comes to Melbourne’s Alex Theatre 

The lights of Melbourne’s theatre scene are set to dim as The Grinning Man makes its Australian debut at the iconic Alex Theatre in St Kilda. This award-winning musical, based on Victor Hugo’s novel The Man Who Laughs, promises to take audiences on a wild ride through a world of pitch-black humour, magic, mayhem, and alluring romance. 

From the creative minds of Carl Grose, Tim Phillips, Marc Teitler, and Tom Morris, The Grinning Man is a wildly different fairytale that unfolds in the grim and blackened streets of Trafalgar Square. At the heart of the story is Grinpayne, a mysterious figure with a hideous smile, whose tale is intertwined with that of an old puppeteer, his pet wolf, and a blind girl. Together, they embark on a journey into a cruel world, seeking the truth about Grinpayne’s past and the secrets behind his disfigurement. 

The musical is well-written, with catchy songs and a great balance of comedy and suspenseful drama. The presentational style of performance, coupled with the performance being staged in the small venue of the Alex Theatre, made for an incredibly intimate experience between the performers and the audience. The proscenium was designed creatively to create humorous entrances and exits, and the overall aesthetic is grungy and mysterious, adding depth to the overall performance. 

Maxwell Simon takes on the challenging role of Grinpayne, bringing his impressive mainstage experience to the fore. His performance promises to be a highlight of the production, as he navigates the complexities of the character with skill and nuance, his stunning vocal display capturing the pain and emotion of the character exceptionally well. Opposite him, Luisa Scrofani shines as the sightless young woman who holds the key to Grinpayne’s past, adding depth and emotion to their evolving relationship. Jennifer Vuletic also stood out as Barkilphedro, bringing great energy to the role, along with a dry sense of humour and a sharp tongue. 

Director Miranda Middleton’s vision for the production is evident in every aspect of the show, from the abstract set design to the use of carnivalesque lights and video projection. This approach transports audiences from the world of Trafalgar Fair to the royal palace and everywhere in between, creating a mesmerizing and immersive experience.   

The rest of the highly skilled cast, including Matthew Hearne, Dom Hennequin, Anthony Craig, Melanie Bird, Stephanie Astrid John, Luke Leong-Tay, Shelley Dunlop, and Cameron Bajraktarevic-Hayward, all deliver standout performances, adding depth and dimension to the world of The Grinning Man. 

Musical Director David Youings, Choreographer Freya List, Lighting Designer Aaron Murray, and Set and Costume Designer Sophie Woodward further enhance the production, creating a gothic fairytale that is as haunting as it is enchanting. 

Don’t miss your chance to experience The Grinning Man, a dark and dazzling fairytale that is sure to leave you smiling long after the final curtain call. Tickets are available through to May 19. Act fast to secure your place in this mysterious and macabre world. 

For more information or to book tickets, visit The Grinning Man. 


Written by: Michael Kent. 

Images by: Nicole Cleary.