Full casting has been announced for the critically acclaimed production of The Grinning Man, directed by Tony award-winning Tom Morris (War Horse) and based on the classic Victor Hugo (Les Misérables) novel, The Man Who Laughs, which opens at the Trafalgar Studios on 6 December.
Sean Kingsley (Les Misérables, Billy Elliot) and Ewan Black (Sleeping Beauty, The Merchant of Venice), who previously co-starred in the award-winning Bristol Old Vic production of the musical, have been confirmed to play Ursus and Trelaw in the West End premiere. Sanne den Besten (Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!), new to the cast, will play Dea, a blind woman who is the childhood friend and closest companion to the show’s title character Grinpayne.
This updated production of The Grinning Man follows the critically acclaimed premiere of the show in autumn 2016 at Bristol Old Vic. Louis Maskell (My Fair Lady, West Side Story), who was recently nominated for Best Performance in a Musical for his role in the Bristol production, will again lead the cast in the title role of Grinpayne, the show’s disfigured hero. Julian Bleach (St George in the Dragon, Shockheaded Peter, The Tempest), who also starred in the Bristol season, plays the role of the deliciously corrupt court clown Barkilphedro.
Joining the cast are Mark Anderson (The Toxic Avenger), Julie Atherton (Avenue Q), Jim Kitson (Much Ado About Nothing), Sophia Mackay (The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds her Chameleon Skin) and Amanda Wilkin (Hamlet). Completing the company are James Alexander-Taylor, Christina Bloom, Jonathan Cobb, Leo Elso, Claire-Marie Hall, and Loren O’Dair.
The Grinning Man is a romantic gothic musical love story, set in a fantastical world with a dark heart, and brought to life by Kneehigh writer Carl Grose (Dead Dog in a Suitcase) and “powered by an outstanding score” (Sunday Times) by Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler. Macabre, magical and visually astonishing, this ultimately elating love story is a distinctive delight.
The show reunites Tom Morris with two puppeteers who began their careers inside Joey and Topthorn in the original production of War Horse – Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié – now leading their own brilliant puppetry company Gyre & Gimble.
When it opened last year as the climax of Bristol Old Vic’s 250th anniversary programme the critics raved: the Telegraph cited its “blackly comic brilliance”; the Daily Mail hailed it as “weird and wonderful, a dark delight”; the Guardian said the production “deftly walks a tightrope between romantic and grotesque… it defies theatrical convention by keeping its hand on its heart and its tongue in its cheek”.