It's a Wonderful Life: Paul McCartney writes first musical stage version of Frank Capra film

Roisin O'Connor

Sir Paul McCartney has revealed he is working on a musical stage adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life.

The Beatles legend and solo artist has teamed up with film and theatre impresario Bill Kenwright, who will produce the adaptation of the much-loved Frank Capra film in a years-long dream realised. McCartney is also working on the lyrics with Tony Award-winning screenwriter Lee Hall.

“Like many of these things this all started with an email,” McCartney explained in a statement. “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.”

“Working with Paul on It’s a Wonderful Life is a dream realised,” Kenwright said. “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.”

It’s a Wonderful Life tells the tale of down-on-his-luck family man George Bailey, whose guardian angel saves him from taking his own life after making him realise just how many lives he has touched – and how different his community would be had he never been born.

“They exceeded expectations for both of us,” Kenright said of McCartney’s songs for the forthcoming musical. “The songs take you somewhere you don’t expect to go. They sound simple – but it’s deceptive.

“That’s Paul’s genius. I don’t have to tell any lover of music how extraordinary he is – but he constantly takes my breath away. Since we worked together on the The Pitmen Painters Lee has been a special writer and person to me. And it’s a privilege to watch Paul and Lee create so vibrantly together.”

It’s a Wonderful Life is expected to launch in late 2020.