Greif attended Northwestern University and graduated from the University of California-San Diego graduate directing program. He was the Artistic Director of the La Jolla Playhouse, LaJolla, California from 1994 to 1999.
For Broadway he has directed the musicals If/Then, Next to Normal (also at Second Stage Theatre and Arena Stage) and Grey Gardens (also at Playwrights Horizons), receiving Tony Award nominations as director for the latter two. He directed the original 1996 production of Rent, earning a Tony Award nomination for Best Direction of a Musical, the Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Director of a Musical, and the Obie Award.
He was an Artistic Associate at the New York Theatre Workshop where he directed, among others, Bright Lights, Big City (1998–99) and the original production of Rent.
Among his many directing credits Off-Broadway are Katori Hall's Our Lady of Kibeho, John Guare's Landscape of the Body and A Few Stout Individuals at the Signature Theater, Beauty of the Father for the Manhattan Theatre Club, and Romeo and Juliet, Winter's Tale, and The Tempest at the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater (2007, 2010, 2015).
In 2009, Greif directed Mrs. Sharp, with music and lyrics by Ryan Scott Oliver, at Playwrights Horizons starring Jane Krakowski. Greif directed the new musical Dear Evan Hansen, which opened Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre in March 2016, after premiering at the Arena Stage (Washington, DC) in 2015.
Grief is directing the premiere of the new musical War Paint, which opened in June 2016 at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago. The musical has a book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, and stars Patti LuPone as Helena Rubinstein and Christine Ebersole as Elizabeth Arden.
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