alphabetical author index

Grinning Man, The

The Grinning Man is a fairy-tale love story streaked with pitch-bolack humour, lashings of Gothic horror and swashbuckling adventure. It opened at Bristol Old Vic in 2016 to great acclaim and transferred to the West End's Trafalgar Studios in 2017, where is achieved cult status and rave reviews.

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed a soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit an enquiry.

  • Full Length Musical
  • Adaptations (Literature), Dark Comedy, Fantasy/Adventure
  • 120 minutes

  • Target Audience: Appropriate for all audiences
  • Orchestra Size: Small/Combo

  • Performance Group:
  • College Theatre / Student, Community Theatre
A strange new act has arrived at Trafalgar Fair's freakshow.

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

With the help of an old puppeteer, his pet wolf and a blind girl, Grinpayne's tale is told. When word spreads across the capital, everything changes. Desperate to know the terrible secrets of his mysterious past, Grinpayne leaves his true love behind and embarks on a journey into an even crueller world -- the aristocracy.  

The Grinning Man is a fairy-tale love story streaked with pitch-black humour, lashings of Gothic horror and swashbuckling adventure. It opened at Bristol Old Vic in 2016 to great acclaim and transferred to the West End's Trafalgar Studios in 2017 where it achieved cult status and rave reviews.


"...a wonderfully weird, macabre musical."

 The Guardian

"This fanciful musical adaptation of The Man Who Laughs...mixes the comical, the grim and the shimmeringly romantic in its own way."

 The Times

"Blackly comic brilliance."

 The Telegraph

"...luridly compelling fairy story."

 The Independent

"A gloriously enjoyable show... perfect for your inner child."

 The Express

"A gothic, dark world of magic and mayhem... storytelling with plenty of dark magic thrown in."


Premiere Production: The musical premiered at Bristol Old Vic in 2016, with previews opening on 13 October and press night on 20 October, with a production directed by Tom Morris. Following the success of the Bristol run, the show transferred to Trafalgar Studios in the West End from 5 December 2017.
  • Casting: 7M, 5F
  • Casting Attributes: Reduced casting (Doubling Possible), Flexible casting, Expandable casting
  • Chorus Size: Small

  • GRINPAYNE – the grinning man
    DEA – a blind girl
    URSUS – an old man
    MOJO – his wolf (a puppet)
    ANGELICA – a princess, then a queen
    JOSIANA – a duchess and Angelica’s half sister
    DAVID DIRRY-MOIR – a lord and Angelica’s half brother
    BARKILPHEDRO – a servant clown
    KING CLARENCE – a tyrant monarch (mostly dead throughout)
    OSRIC – the freak-wrangler of Trafalgar Fair
    QUAKE – an inspector of nuisances
    KUPSAK – an archbishop
    A HANGED MAN/HAZLITT TRELAW – a rebel lord
    MOTHER/LADY ELIZA TRELAW – Trelaw’s wife
    HER BABY (a puppet)
    SPIKE – a court assistant / part-time torturer
    HANS – a court musician / member of the band

  • A Possible Guide to Doubling/Puppeteering from the Authors:
    In our production, the performers playing GRINPAYNE and DEA puppeteered their smaller puppet selves. Two puppeteers did MOJO, who, as performers, also doubled as THE WOMAN IN THE SNOW/CHORUS and KUPSAK/CHORUS. The performer playing MOTHER/ELIZA TRELAW also doubled as QUAKE and the performer playing HAZLITT TRELAW/HANGED MAN doubled as OSRIC. The performer playing URSUS also doubled as KING CLARENCE in an earlier iteration of the show, which worked well. If you’ve got a larger company, you will be able to allocate the roles more widely, but bear in mind, performers will have less to do.
    In the West End production of THE GRINNING MAN, the Violin 1, Violin 2, Cello and Accordion parts were played by off-stage actor-musicians. The Violin 1 and Cello parts are likely substantial enough to include individually as part of your orchestra, however it may be sensible to combine the Accordion and Violin 2 parts which do not play simultaneously, so that a single player covers both of those parts. Alternatively, you can cast actor-musicians as per the original casting.