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Previewed 18 June 2009, Opened 24 June 2009, Closed 8 August 2009 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London
The world premiere of John Robinson and Robert Trippini's new musical Too Close To The Sun in London for an eight week season.
Live to Extreme - Love to Excess - Too Close to the Sun is a dramatic original new musical that tells the fictional account of what might have been Ernest Hemingway's last challenge. Author and Nobel Prize-winner Ernest Hemingway, battling the rigours old age, takes solace in the company of his young secretary. His wife, tolerating this liaison so as not to lose him, is unaware that the secretary has a secret agenda - to become wife number five and inherit his estate. The arrival of Rex, an old school friend, adds a further complication, as he tries to secure the film rights to the life of the notorious writer. With bribery, lies and manipulation, Rex plays a dangerous game to achieve his goal, but in this suggested account of events leading to Hemingway's death, can there be any winners?
The cast for Too Close to the Sun in London features James Graeme as 'Ernest', Helen Dallimore as 'Mary', Tammy Joelle as 'Louella' and Christopher Howell as 'Rex'. The production is directed by Pat Garrett with designs by Christopher Woods, lighting by Mike Robertson and sound by Terry Jardine. Music by John Robinson, lyrics by Roberto Trippini and John Robinson, book by Roberto Trippini. Jay Benedict originally played the role of 'Rex', but unfortunately injured his knee and therefore withdrew from the production. John Robinson's previous West End credit was the musical Behind The Iron Mask which starred Sheila Ferguson at the Duchess Theatre in 2005.
"Can you seriously imagine Ernest Hemingway singing an ode to the joy of writing? Me neither. That's the insurmountable problem of this unfortunate work: the ludicrous juxtaposition of Hemingway°s violent, masculine world with the flamboyant excess of the musical... Robert Trippini's woeful libretto and John Robinson's lyrics are squirmingly snigger-inducing. You can only feel for the cast, compelled to sing through sledgehammer numbers such as Sentimental Small-Towner That I Am, and by scene two you're desperate for Hemingway to use that gun he keeps waving around and put everyone out of their misery." The London Metro
"If you want something so bad it's good, stick to We Will Rock You. Too Close to the Sun is pretty dire. But it's such a muted, muddled experience, such a waste of time and talent, that there's not really much to snigger about... The title tune fails to rouse because it springs from the production's need for a rousing tune at the end of Act I, not from emotional turmoil in the characters to which you can connect... James Graeme as Ernest, Helen Dallimore as Mary, Tammy Joelle as Louella, and understudy Christopher Howell as Rex all do wonders with what they've got. They sing well. But these are West End prices for a show that simply doesn't deserve to be there. It's not good; it's not so bad it's good. It's just bewilderingly drab." The Times
"Too Close To The Sun is a dire new musical about the last days of the novelist, big-game hunter and he-man Ernest Hemingway... After some two dozen bland John Robinson songs, Hemingway finally loses the will to live and puts a shotgun to his head. Roberto Trippini's book finds nothing to say about the motives that led the writer to enter the lists of literary suicides and no reference is made to his father, brother and sister, all of whom killed themselves. Helen Dallimore as Hemingway's wife somehow manages to keep a straight face. James Graeme has the impertinence of being Ernest and plays him with all the charisma of a retired bank manager. We all love a good musical flop, but this one doesn't have the grace to be entertainingly bad." The Mail on Sunday
"One wouldn't have imagined that an author who blew his brains out at his home in Idaho in July 1961 would have had a great deal to sing about in his final days. Roberto Trippini, with his lyricist and composer John Robinson, have, however, fashioned a musical out of the final anguished chapter of Ernest Hemingway's life... James Graeme, a bald-headed, bearded man, walks onto the stage... He and the other actors do all that look-at-me, am-dram stuff involving elaborate but entirely incongruous movements with their feet and hands. Occasionally, for no obvious reason, they start singing. Miss Joelle warbles, for instance, that New York is 'the citiest of cities'. I have no idea what that means. Mr Graeme does a song about how he likes his gun. All the songs are meaningless and unhummable." The Sunday Telegraph
Too Close to the Sun in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre previewed from 18 June 2009, opened on 24 June 2009 and closed on 8 August 2009.