Paul McCartney Writing Musical Version of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’
The stage adaptation could arrive as early as next year
Paul McCartney is making his first foray into the world of theater. The musician has spent the past year writing a stage musical adaptation of the 1946 Frank Capra film It’s A Wonderful Life, according to the New York Post.
McCartney has teamed up with writer Lee Hall, the screenwriter behind Billy Elliot and Rocketman, and producer Bill Kenwright. Hall previously worked with Elton John on the West End adaptation of “Billy Elliot: The Musical,” which opened in 2005.
“Writing a musical is not something that had ever really appealed to me,” McCartney said in a statement. “But Bill and I met up with Lee Hall and had a chat and I found myself thinking this could be interesting and fun. It’s A Wonderful Life is a universal story we can all relate to.”
Kenwright originally asked Capra for the stage rights to the film years ago, according to the Post, but the filmmaker said no. After the producer was offered the rights by Paramount, he reached out to McCartney in 2016 and asked if he would be interested in writing the music. “Out of the blue I got an email from Paul asking my thoughts on his first stab at an opening song,” Kenwright recounted in a statement. “He wasn’t sure – but wanted to know what Lee and I thought of it? I played the demo. Lee and I were unanimous. Our hero was a musical theatre writer!”
“Working with Paul on It’s a Wonderful Life is a dream realized,” Kenwright added. “To be honest I was hooked on first hearing him say ‘one/two/three/four’ on the demo of the opening number! But since then it’s been an extraordinary journey – on every song I experience Paul’s unique gift of melody and composition. It’s musical theatre – but it’s always McCartney. Paul, Lee, and I use the word ‘cherish’ when we refer to our source material and that’s what we intend to do. Cherish Frank Capra’s creation.”
Hall said, “It’s A Wonderful Life is my favorite film. It has absolutely everything comedy, pathos and a rare humanity which has touched generation after generation. Yet it just couldn’t be more relevant. To give it a life on the stage is an immense privilege in itself but to do with Paul McCartney is off the scale. Paul’s wit, emotional honesty and melodic brilliance brings a whole new depth and breadth to the classic tale. I feel as if an angel must be looking after me.”
The production is set to premiere in the U.K. in late 2020 with plans for a later move to Broadway, according to Variety.
McCartney recently reunited with Ringo Starr during a performance at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium. The pair collaborated on two Beatles classics, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” and “Helter Skelter.”