Review Scene: The Grinning Man, Alex Theatre, 3rd May 2024 by Karen Dean

“The Grinning Man”

Alex Theatre, St Kilda

from 25 April until 19 May 2024

From the outset, “The Grinning Man“ engaged the audience with its blend of tragedy and comedy, drawing them into a realm of suspense, romance, and mystery. Adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel “The Man Who Laughs,” this award-winning musicalshowcased an all-Australian cast that skillfully bought to life the complex mix of a dark, and mysterious past, interwoven with humor and intrigue.

The production’s strength stemmed from its expert casting;creative choreography; its engaging score, minimalist yet effective props and the carefully orchestrated lighting effects.  Against the backdrop of the Trafalgar Fair’s freakshow, with the help of the puppeteer, his pet wolf and a beautiful blind girl, the narrative gradually unveiled the mystery surrounding Grinpayne’sdisfigurement with the secret finally unfolding in a thrilling ending.

Maxwell Simon led the cast, as the suffering and tragic figure of Grinpayne, with a compelling performance skillfully showcasing both his singing and acting skills. Luisa Scrofani dramatically portrayed the blind Dea, Grinpayne’s steadfast love, while Melanie Bird breathed life into the feisty and seductive role of Princess Josiana.  Anthony Craig’s performance of Lord Dirry-Moir was whimsical and lighthearted, complemented by Stephanie Astrid John’s comical portrayal of Queen Angelica. Jennifer Vuletic’s portrayal of Barkilphedro anchored the production with a consistent and powerful performance.  

Throughout the show, a blend of intrigue, romance, and a lingering sense of mystery kept the audience engaged andimmersed them in the magical and mysterious world of “The Grinning Man.” With its blend of humor, romance, and compelling storytelling, this production entertained all who were fortunate enough to experience it.

For more information, and tickets,


Alex Theatre