“The greatest freakshow in town.”

- The Observer

The Grinning Man is a magical and macabre musical based on the novel The Man Who Laughs, written by the globally celebrated author Victor Hugo.

Australian Premiere Alex Theatre St Kilda 

April 2024

Book by Carl Grose

Music by Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler

Arrangements and Orchestrations by Tim Phillips & Marc Teitler

Lyrics by Carl Grose, Tom Morris, Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler


Poster image: Campaign by feastcreative.com
Trafalgar Studios London, UK Production 2017 images: Helen Maybanks / ArenaPAL

The Grinning Man

25 April - 19 May 2024

Important: Ensure you purchase the correct tickets, check the ticket date/time. No refund or exchange policy is in place.

Ticketing Questions


*Tickets will be on sale on our website or on The Alex Theatre St Kilda website

*Please double check and confirm your ticket dates, times and seats before you purchase them, as there are no refunds or exchanges on purchased tickets if you change your mind or for personal reasons.

*The run time is 2 hours and 30 minutes including interval.

*We recommend you arrive 30 minutes prior to the performance to ensure you have time to park and get settled. 

Once the performance begins, latecomers will be seated at the discretion of management at a suitable break in the show.

*Yes it is. For more information on your accessibility needs, please contact support@vasstg.com.au or call 03 9964 0918

*Get in touch at info@vasstg.com.au

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“Welcome to a time in history that never was, to a world wildly different and yet weirdly similar to your own…”

Following an extended West End run and an explosive world premiere at Bristol Old Vic as part of the theatre’s 250th season, The Grinning Man is a magical and macabre musical based on the novel The Man Who Laughs, written by the globally celebrated author Victor Hugo (Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame), and will make its Australian Premiere at the Alex Theatre St Kilda in April 2024.

This award-winning musical is a fairy-tale love story streaked with pitch-black humour, lashings of Gothic horror and swashbuckling adventure. This “gothic, dark world of magic and mayhem” (WhatsOnStage) is brought to life by Carl Grose (Robin Hood), with an “outstanding score” (The Sunday Times) by Tim Phillips (Game of Thrones), Marc Teitler (The Magician’s Elephant) and Tom Morris (War Horse).

A strange new act has arrived at Trafalgar Fair’s freakshow.

Who is Grinpayne and how did he get his hideous smile?

In the grim and blackened streets of Trafalgar Square, with the help of an old puppeteer, his pet wolf and a blind girl, Grinpayne’s tale is told. Desperate to know the terrible secrets of his mysterious past and discover the truth of his gruesome disfigurement, Grinpayne leaves everything he knows and loves behind and embarks on a journey into an even crueller world. An epic tale of gothic horror, laughter, hope and humanity’s deep desire to be ‘seen’ and loved for who we truly are – in our darkness and our light.

More To Be Announced

Cast and Creative Team

Producer & Associate Director

Ashley is the owner, Producer and Artistic Director of Melbourne based theatre company Salty Theatre and has 25+ years of experience across the theatre, television and film sectors. Her work has been seen and heard in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia, originally as a performer before transitioning into the roles of producer, director and dramaturg.

Hailing from Toronto, Canada and now a proud citizen of Australia, Ashley got her first taste of producing when she premiered Heartache, Milkshakes and Broadway, which was performed at the renowned cabaret venue Don’t Tell Mama in NYC. Ashley’s most recent credits include producing and managing three seasons of Voldemort and The Teenage Hogwarts in Victoria and Adelaide and directing and Producing the premiere of cult hit Stranger Sings! The Parody Musical. Ashley also co-created The Hatch Lab to help fill a gap in the new musical development and production market in Australia.

A strong advocate for new works, Ashley connects with artists in Australia as a mentor, coach and dramaturg to support and assist them in the development of new works both as writers and as independent producers. She also works with creatives globally to debut their musicals in Australia. Ashley is committed to being an advocate for women, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ creative artists and identity-conscious casting.

Select theatre credits: Lucy in Ladies in Retirement (Off-Broadway); Heartache, Milkshakes & Broadway (Don’t Tell Mama NYC); The Sound of Music (Andrew Lloyd Webber/Mirvish); Belle in Beauty and the Beast; Cosette in Les Miserables, Jasmine in Aladdin; Mary in Mary’s Wedding; The Kid/Linda U/S in Pal Joey (The Shaw Festival); Alice in Alice Through the Looking Glass (The Stratford Festival). Select film/tv credits: The Cutting Room, The Cold Equations, 1-800 Missing, Goosebumps, Stickin’ Around, and Little Bear.

Ashley, her husband Jeremiah, their son Grant and their cat Boo, call Melbourne home.

Executive Producer

Vass Productions was founded on Aleksandar’s entrepreneurial success and his extensive theatrical experience.

He studied drama at the National Theatre and went on to perform in musicals, plays and in television series’ and then became Australia’s youngest agent, representing 300 artists. He was the Victorian President of the Theatrical Agents Association for several years. As an independent producer his successes include Fiddler On The Roof with Topol, It’s a Dad Thing, All my Sons, Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat, Burn This, Amadeus, Hair, Barnum, Noises Off, Chase Me Comrade, Hamlet, Evita, Copacabana, A Street Car Named Desire, The Blue Room, Oh Calcutta, The Last Of The Red Hot Lovers and the play 8. Aleksandar founded the Vass Theatre Group to continue his dedication to producing shows of the highest quality. The company’s productions include the Australian Premiere and National Tour of Bad Jews, the Australian Premiere of the international dance and light sensation Pixel, the World Premiere of Sexercise The Musical, the Australian Premier of Around The World in 80 Days, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Hand to God. With Kate Whitbread, Aleksandar founded MOMO Films to produce and distribute films throughout Australia. Their films include Surviving Georgia starring Shane Jacobson, Pia Miranda and Holly Valance and Cloudburst with Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Flicker and The Unlit. The Team currently has two more films in production.

In 2016 the Vass Theatre Group acquired the historic Spiegel Zelt. Vass Productions show Spiegel’esque premieres in Sydney, November 2016 and then the Spiegel Zelt has been on tour across the West Coast of Australia. Aleksandar Vass OAM is a global entrepreneur with interests in glass manufacturing, energy development, and many other industries as well as entertainment.

For more information visit: vassproductions.com.au/aleksandars-vass-oam

Miranda Middleton


Miranda Middleton is an award-winning director, writer, and choreographer with a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from the National Institute of Dramatic Arts. She aims to create theatrical events which spark joy, connection, and a sense of shared humanity. 

Miranda’s most recent directing credits include Pear-Shaped, Lemon Tree on Dreg Street, and Senser for Theatre Works, Not Today for Theatre Works and Seymour Centre; PASH for Melbourne International Comedy Festival; Sowing Seeds for Gasworks Arts Park. She directed and choreographed the Australian premiere productions of Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Musical Parody for Salty Theatre and Ned: A New Australian Musical at the New Theatre. 

Miranda had the honour of assistant directing Simon Phillips on the new musical Come Rain or Come Shine for Melbourne Theatre Company and Shaun Rennie on the new musical The Lovers for Bell Shakespeare. Miranda was also the dramaturg on A Letter For Molly for Ensemble Theatre. 

As a writer, Miranda has two new musicals in development: Paper Stars and Silver Tongue. In 2022/2023, Miranda was the Resident Writer at Theatre Works, which culminated in the critically acclaimed new work Pear-Shaped, which she co-wrote with Ziggy Resnick.

David Youings

Music Director

David is a music director, pianist, arranger, orchestrator, and vocal coach based in Melbourne, Australia. He is currently the Assistant Music Director of the Australian tour of Moulin Rouge! (Global Creatures). Previously, David was the Conductor for the Australian tour of Cruel Intentions (DVE), and Assistant Music Director for the Australian tour of The Wedding Singer (DVE), before becoming the show’s Conductor/Associate Music Director for its New Zealand tour.

Other past creative credits include Music Director for the Australian productions of the Edinburgh Fringe smash hit Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts (Salty Theatre/Red Hot Productions), Top Gun! The Musical (Salty Theatre/Chapel off Chapel) and the World Premiere of Hashed Out: A Kansley and Lidert Song-Cycle (VCA), which he also orchestrated. He was Music Supervisor/Orchestrator/Sound Designer for Senser (Brittanie Shipway), and Music Supervisor/Arranger for People Suck. David has been the Music Director/Co-Arranger for several development labs and workshops of the new Australian musical Paper Stars, including recently at the Australian Musical Theatre Festival in Launceston, Tasmania.

David has overseen and implemented music technology for the Australian productions of Hamilton (Michael Cassel Group), Moulin Rouge!, and Muriel’s Wedding (both for Global Creatures), and is Music Technology Supervisor for Moulin Rouge! in Korea and Japan. He composed an original score and lyrics for the pantomime Little Red Riding Hood, and has contributed orchestrations/arrangements for countless productions, including Amazing Grace (Manilla Street Productions), Broadway Unplugged (BU Inc.), and Starbound (Launchpad).

He studied towards a Bachelor of Applied Music (Composition) before transferring for completion into the Bachelor of Music Industry (Performance) at Box Hill Institute, Victoria.


Sophie Woodward


Sophie is a Melbourne-based set and costume designer. Sophie graduated with a Bachelor of Production (Design) from VCA in 2010 winning the Beleura John Tallis Design Award in her final year. Sophie recently designed costumes for Death of a Salesman (GWB Entertainment and Red Line Productions) and Come Rain or Come Shine (Melbourne Theatre Company). Recent set and costume designs include Monument (Red Stitch Actors Theatre) and Unprecedented (HotHouse Theatre).

Earlier design work from Sophie includes Hungry Ghosts (Melbourne Theatre Company); Burn This, The One and Mr Burns, A Post Electric Play (fortyfivedownstairs); All the Shining Lights, Those Who Fall in Love like Anchors Dropped Upon the Ocean Floor, Between the Clouds, Pyjama Girl and Letters from the Border (HotHouse Theatre); Selling Kabul, A Simple Act of Kindness, Fast Food, Iphigenia in Splott, Grace, Extinction, Rules for Living and You got Older (Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre); Garage Girls, #No Exemptions, Thigh Gap and A Long Day’s Dying (LaMama Theatre). Sophie was Costume Design Associate on Girls & Boys, Bernhardt/Hamlet, An Ideal Husband and Twelfth Night (Melbourne Theatre

You can view Sophie’s work at sophiewoodwarddesign.com

Freya List


Freya List is a critically acclaimed creative working across theatre, film, tv, company works and music. As well as being a versatile choreographer, movement director, and educator, she is passionate about fostering community and has created valuable platforms for dancers to interact and inspire both locally and abroad.

Freya recently won the Green Room Award (Betty Pounder Award for Original Choreography) for her work on Cruel Intentions: The 90’s Musical (David Venn Enterprises) and Next To Normal (James Terry Collective). Other notable stage credits include the National tours of: Tick, Tick, Boom (StoreyBoard Entertainment) and Chess in Concert (StoreyBoard Entertainment), The Children (MTC/STC), Next To Normal (James Terry Collective), A View From the Bridge (MTC), RENT (James Terry Collective), Parade (Soundworks), Kabaret Dietrich (Fringe Festival), Mystery of Edwin Drood, Sweet Charity, Little Women and Urinetown (VCA). As well as choreographing and directing her own full-length dance works Half Full (Collaboration The Project) and Sondheim (Transit), she has been involved in workshops for WAGs (Development) and I Can Jump Puddles (Antipodes). Freya was also nominated for the Betty Pounder Award for Excellence in Choreography (Greenroom Awards) for her work on Bright Star (Pursued by Bear).

Freya is the director of the international outreach program ‘Dancing Through India’ and the popular event series ‘Playing Field Series’ that highlights local musicians and dancers. Freya collaborates with many music artists through the creation of music videos, live shows, tours and movement coaching. Some of these artists include Hopium, Ben Abraham, Sex on Toast, Thelma Plum, Women of Soul Collective,
Hayden Calnin, Woodes, Franco Gonzo, Chealsea Wilson and Braille Face.

Freya is very excited to be part of bringing The Grinning Man to Australia for the first time.

Cast Announcements - watch this space



Our audition brief is now available for those artists who would like to be considered for The Grinning Man.