Well, it was a risk opening a new musical in the notoriously competitive West End, but the folks behind the gothic and bonkers THE GRINNING MAN seem to have pulled it off.
Do check it out. You won't have seen anything like this grisly tale of a boy seeking vengeance on a dastardly villain who cut open his mouth.
Read our London Box Office review here.
Here's some fun facts about the show from the official press release:
- It's a co-production between regional theatre, Bristol Old Vic, where they tried the show out, and London's Trafalgar Entertainment Group.
- It's running at Trafalgar Studios until 14 April 2018.
- It's based on the classic Victor Hugo (Les Misérables) novel, The Man Who Laughs.
- The romantic gothic musical love story, set in a fantastical world with a dark heart, is 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.
- The press say, “This stunning new British musical demands to be seen. I simply loved it” The Times; “Fabulously theatrical” The Observer; “Best puppetry since War Horse” Mail on Sunday; “As satisfying and heart-wrenching as anything you might see on stage at the moment” What’s On Stage; “A gloriously enjoyable, quirkily brilliant production” Sunday Express.
- The show transferred into the West End in December last year and receives huge praise and standing ovations at every single performance, with news of the riotous audience reaction spreading sensationally via word of mouth.
- As well as critics and the general public, celebrities and creative minds have also heaped praise on the show. Harry Enfield proclaimed “the whole thing is amazing”, while Hannah Waddingham was “overwhelmed” by the production and Mel Giedroyc applauded the “beautiful score”, which is “clever and haunting”, declaring ‘’I want to see it again”. Simon Callow exclaimed the show is “spectacular, theatrical and exciting!”
- The Grinning Man is directed by Tony award-winning Tom Morris (War Horse). Tom Morris is Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic and was previously Artistic Director at Battersea Arts Centre where he met many of the creative team behind this show. Previous productions at Bristol Old Vic include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, The Crucible, Swallows & Amazons, Juliet & Her Romeo and Messiah (Bristol Proms). Tom has been Associate Director of the National Theatre since 2004 and was co-director of War Horse, widely considered to be amongst the most successful theatre productions of all time.
- The Grinning Man 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. Their work has appeared in productions as varied as The Hartlepool Monkey (Stratford Circus and Touring), The Lorax (Old Vic), The Light Princess (National Theatre), Running Wild (Regents Park), Elephantom (National Theatre and West End) and Shrek: The Musical (West End).
- Writer Carl Grose has worked extensively with Kneehigh theatre as writer and actor. His writing for the Cornish-based company includes The Tin Drum, Dead Dog in a Suitcase, The Wild Bride and Tristan & Yseult. Other recent writing credits include Grand Guignol (Southwark Playhouse) and Oedipussy (Spymonkey).
- Music is by Tim Phillips, a Canadian composer who has written music for many screen productions, including HBO's Entourage, the ITV serial Talk To Me and (with Murray Gold) the Channel 4 series Shameless. He honed his theatrical craft at Battersea Arts Centre through Filter Theatre. Marc Teitler is a composer whose work spans musicals, opera, film soundtracks and albums and has had music featured in Game of Thrones. His current commissions for original musicals include The Ghost Map (dir. Bijan Sheibani). In collaboration, Marc and Tim have composed music and lyrics for The Circle (National Theatre).
- The creative team is completed by award-winning designer, Jon Bausor (London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony, Bat Out of Hell - West End); Costume Designer, Jean Chan (Lionboy – Complicite); Music Supervisor, Tom Deering (Wonder.Land - National Theatre, Jesus Christ Superstar – Regents Park);Lighting Designer, Rob Casey (Up Next – National Theatre) and award-winning Sound Designer, Simon Baker (Matilda The Musical - Olivier for Best Sound, A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Shakespeare’s Globe and The Caretaker - Old Vic).