Too Close to the Sun Posts Closing Notices, 8 AugDate: 27 July 2009
Too Close to the Sun, the new musical concerning the death of Ernest Hemingway, which just opened on Friday night (24 July 2009), has already posted closing notices at the West End’s Comedy Theatre, after receiving a raft of damning reviews (See Also Today’s Review Round-up).
The premiere production – from the same team behind another rapid closure, 2005’s Behind the Iron Mask (See News, 4 Aug 2005) - had been previewing since 16 July and was originally booking until 5 September. It will now have an even more limited season, finishing on 8 August (See News, 26 May 2009).
One of the production’s four cast members, Jay Benedict, who was playing Hemingway’s friend Rex, withdrew from the production just before last week’s press performance, citing a knee injury. The rest of the cast are James Graeme (Hemingway), Helen Dallimore and Tammy Joelle.
Considered one of the greatest American novelists of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway shot himself in the head with a shotgun and died on 2 July 1961, less than three weeks short of his 62nd birthday. He had previously attempted suicide and suffered from depression and alcoholism. Amongst his many accolades, Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize, for The Old Man and the Sea, in 1953 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. His other best-known novels include The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms and To Have and Have Not.
Too Close to the Sun provides a fictional account of the events leading up to Hemingway’s death. In it, the writer, battling the indignities of old age, takes solace in the company of his young secretary. His wife 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.
The new musical has music by John Robinson, lyrics by Robinson and Roberto Trippini and a book by Trippini. When the pair’s first collaboration, Behind the Iron Mask, announced its closure two days after opening four years ago, a show spokesperson blamed the failure on “the current state of the West End” which made it “difficult for a new musical to sustain sufficient audience levels and meet its running costs."
The next production scheduled for the Comedy Theatre is Prick up Your Ears, Simon Bent’s new play about another famous death, that of playwright Joe Orton (See News, 22 Jun 2009). Little Britain’s Matt Lucas stars as Orton’s lover-murderer Kenneth Halliwell in Daniel Kramer’s premiere production, which opens on 30 September 2009 (previews from 17 September).