Pop/rock legend Paul McCartney, who has expanded beyond those musical idioms to write a ballet score and movie soundtracks, is now penning his first stage musical.
West End and Broadway theater producer Bill Kenwright announced Thursday that Rock and Roll Hall of Famer McCartney, who recently concluded a concert tour, has been collaborating with writer Lee Hall (the musical “Billy Elliot,” the movie “Rocketman”) on an adaptation of director Frank Capra’s 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“Writing a musical is not something that had ever really appealed to me,” 18-time Grammy Award winner McCartney, 77, 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.”
“Paul's wit, emotional honesty and melodic brilliance brings a whole new depth and breadth to the classic tale,” Tony Award winner Hall said in a statement. ”I feel as if an angel must be looking after me,” he said, referring to the film’s central conceit of an apprentice angel, Clarence (Henry Travers), who must earn his wings by showing a suicidal George Bailey (James Stewart) how much worse his town, friends and family would have been had he never lived.
Kenwright, who obtained the film rights in 2016, had contacted McCartney then, but did not hear back until 2018. “Out of the blue I got an email from Paul asking my thoughts on his first stab at an opening song,” the producer said 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 theater writer!”
The producers say they hope to mount the show in late 2020.
McCartney in 2011 composed the music for the New York City Ballet production “Ocean’s Kingdom," and for such nonmusical films as “A Family Way" (1966) and the animated short “Rupert and the Frog Song” (1985).