Luisa Scrofani chats THE GRINNING MAN, playing at the Alex Theatre from May 2

With an extended West End run and an explosive world premiere at Bristol Old Vic, The Grinning Man has captivated audiences with its magical and macabre allure.

Based on Victor Hugo’s novel “The Man Who Laughs,” this award-winning musical is a fairy-tale love story entwined with pitch-black humour, Gothic horror, and swashbuckling adventure. Now, as it prepares for its Australian Premiere at the Alex Theatre St Kilda in April 2024, we delve into the heart of this mesmerising production.

At the centre of this dark and enchanting world is the enigmatic character of Grinpayne, whose haunting smile conceals a mysterious past. Guided by an old puppeteer, his loyal pet wolf, and a blind girl, Grinpayne embarks on a journey of self-discovery, grappling with the secrets of his disfigurement and the truth of his origins. It’s an epic tale of gothic horror, laughter, hope, and the universal yearning to be understood and loved for who we truly are.

Luisa Scrofani

The role of Dea, a character who offers Grinpayne solace and companionship, and will be played by Luisa Scrofani.

Luisa is a Helpmann-nominated singer and actor. She made her professional debut at 19 in Violet (JRP Australia), and has gone on to successfully perform in a string of independent and main-stage productions. Credits include Spring Awakening (StageArt), In The Heights (JRP Australia, Helpmann Nomination for Best Lead Female Actor), Blackrock and Dreamsong (EbbFlow Theatre Co.), My Brilliant Career (MLive + Original Cast Recording), Paper Stars (Salty Theatre), Bonnie and Clyde (JRP Australia), SENSER (TheatreWorks), Pear-Shaped (Rogue Projects), Midnight (Aspect Entertainment), and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum (Watch This).

Can you tell me about your background with performing? Credits, training, inspiration, etc.?

Luisa: I lived in the US as a child, and a trip to New York where I saw Wicked on Broadway when I was 12 was a total eye-opener. I don’t remember any specifics – just a wash of green and a feeling of total overwhelm! Following this, I dove into singing and acting lessons, and involved myself in all the school productions. After high school, I trained at Showfit for two years. I made my professional debut in “Violet” at The Hayes Theatre Co., and have worked between independent and main stage shows over the last eight years. Most recently, I performed in “Midnight” at the Comedy Theatre, and “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum” with Watch This.

How has the collaboration been with your fellow cast members and the creative team in bringing The Grinning Man to the stage? Are there any memorable moments from rehearsals or interactions that have enriched your experience?

Luisa: We’ve got an absolutely brilliant group of collaborators on this team. There are times that we’re dealing with very heavy subject matter, but the levity and joy the cast brings makes it feel like a really safe and open space to explore. So far, just lots (and lots) of giggling fits have been my highlight!

Can you introduce us to Dea? What drew you to the role, and how have you prepared for portraying her on stage?

Luisa: Dea is a young woman who was born blind. She has a deeply forged connection with Grinpayne, and they’ve served as each other’s support in a world that has put up lots of barriers against them. I was drawn primarily to the resilience and headstrong nature she shows. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with three access and disability consultants – I’ve been working closely with Lauren Hayes who has provided incredible guidance navigating Dea’s disability with delicacy and respect.

What aspects of Dea’s personality or journey resonate with you?

Luisa: I’d like to think that both myself and Dea choose to see the best in people, perhaps sometimes to a detriment, but ultimately always from a place of compassion.

How does the music contribute to the overall atmosphere and storytelling of The Grinning Man?

Luisa: The score of The Grinning Man is absolutely lush! It’s Les Miserables meets Sweeney Todd meets Jesus Christ Superstar. Epic, intricate and enormously evocative. It is story through song at it’s very best.

How do you approach building a connection with the audience, especially in a production with darker themes?

Luisa: I think it’s important to establish that this is a world of escapism – two and a half hours away from the real world.

Why should audiences come and see The Grinning Man?

Luisa: It’s never been seen before in Australia (or anywhere outside of the UK!) – it’s musically so impressive, dramatically so powerful, and there’s truly something for everyone.

For tickets and more information, visit the Alex Theatre website.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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