Sir Paul McCartney announces musical version of It's A Wonderful Life

Anita Singh
James Stewart in the film of It's A Wonderful Life - www.Alamy.com

Sir Paul McCartney is to turn Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life into a West End musical, teaming up with the writer behind Billy Elliot.

It will be the first time in his career that the former Beatle has tackled a musical. He was persuaded by Bill Kenwright, the theatre producer who has acquired the rights to the film and who, by happy coincidence, went to school with Sir Paul.

Lee Hall, who wrote Billy Elliot and the recent Sir Elton John biopic, Rocketman, is writing the book of the musical, while Sir Paul will supply the music and lyrics.

Sir Paul said: “Like many of these things, this all started with an email. Bill had asked if it was something I might be up for. Writing a musical is not something that had ever really appealed to me 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.”

He has previously said that the 1946 classic is his favourite Christmas film.

Sir Paul McCartney performs live on stage at the O2 Arena  Credit: Getty/ Jim Dyson

Sir Bill said that working with the former Beatle “is a dream realised”. He said of the songs, which Sir Paul is still working on: “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.”

He said the three would “cherish” Frank Capra’s creation. The musical will launch in late 2020.

Lee Hall said: “It’s A Wonderful Life is my favourite 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 it with Paul McCartney is off the scale.”