Paul McCartney is set to write his first stage show, penning a musical version of It’s A Wonderful Life. Released in 1946 and directed by Frank Capra, It’s A Wonderful Life bombed at the U.S. box office upon release, but famously went on to garner widespread popularity after becoming a staple of the Christmas television schedule. Nowadays, It’s A Wonderful Life is considered one of the greatest films ever made and is rolled out each year as one of the all-time classic holiday movies. Starring James Stewart as George Bailey, It’s A Wonderful Life tells the story of an angel who shows a suicidal man what the world would be like if he never existed and is far less depressing in tone than that premise would suggest.
As one quarter of The Beatles, Paul McCartney is the embodiment of a living musical legend, having penned timeless tunes such as «Let It Be,» «Hey Jude» and «Hard Day’s Night» during his time with the Fab Four. After the band’s breakup, McCartney went on to enjoy a successful solo career and has also dabbled in the world of film on several occasions. McCartney’s musical influence continues to this day and The Beatles’ legacy was recently the subject of the movie Yesterday, which, in a similar fashion to It’s A Wonderful Life, explores an alternate world where The Beatles never existed.
As reported by The Guardian, a stage musical version of It’s A Wonderful Life is being produced and Paul McCartney will be writing the songs. With the former Beatle on music and lyrics, Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, Rocketman) will be contributing to the story and lyrics and the production is set to debut sometime in 2020. McCartney was first approached about writing It’s A Wonderful Life in 2016 by revered theater producer, Bill Kenwright, and the musician is currently in the process of demoing songs. Regarding the new It’s A Wonderful Life musical, McCartney states:
«Writing a musical is not something that had ever really appealed to me, but Bill [Kenwright] 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 marks McCartney’s first foray into the world of live musicals but he’s hardly a risky choice of composer; if his reputation alone doesn’t court additional interest in the musical, his history of writing evergreen Christmas pop songs certainly will. While McCartney may be new to the world of musical theater, however, the It’s A Wonderful Life story certainly isn’t, and the tale of George Bailey has been adapted for the stage on several occasions, albeit perhaps not on the same scale as this upcoming production.
Given the sterling reputation of It’s A Wonderful Life, it’s perhaps surprising that the movie hasn’t enjoyed prominence on Broadway or London’s West End before, and this may be down to the film’s Christmas setting. After all, these productions run all year round and no one wants to go and see a Christmas story in mid-July. It remains to be seen as to whether the added lure of all-new Paul McCartney music will overcome that issue.