Paul McCartney adapts It’s A Wonderful Life into a stage musical

Posted on 24 July 2019

It’s fair to say that Paul McCartney has written some of the most iconic pop songs of all time. He is, of course, most well known for being 1 of 4 of the legendary pop group The Beatles but has a range of songwriting that spans further than the Liverpudlian band. Initiated by the highly reputable theatre producer Bill Kenwright (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and along with writer Lee Hall (Billy Elliot), this dream team are set to take It's a Wonderful Life — one of the world’s most beloved Christmas films — and turn it into a stage musical.

How did the It’s A Wonderful Life The Musical journey begin?

Bill Kenwright had previously tried to obtain the rights to It’s A Wonderful Life as a young man but was refused. After receiving the rights, Kenwright approached McCartney three years ago, over an email, and after the pair met up with Lee Hall, the interest was well and truly piqued. McCartney will write the music and lyrics; Hall will also write lyrics as well as the book for the project. The first stage adaptation of the 1946 film is set to open late 2020.

About the legendary creators

Bill Kenwright is a British theatre producer and director. He is hugely celebrated for his work in the entertainment industry, having received his CBE in 2002, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Theatrical Management Association in 2008, and was even honoured by BBC Radio 2 with a special episode of Friday Night is Music Night broadcast from the London Palladium in 2017. He is most well known for his work on the iconic Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Blood Brothers. His other works include Heathers The Musical (The Other Palace and Theatre Royal Haymarket), The Exorcist (Phoenix Theatre) and Evita (Phoenix Theatre and Dominion Theatre).

Paul McCartney is a singer-songwriter and composer. He has been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a member of The Beatles and as a solo artist. McCartney has been knighted, receiving both a CH and MBE, and has won 18 Grammy Awards. As well as his monumental career with The Beatles and his solo work, he has collaborated with various artists, including Rihanna and Kanye West, and has written music for a video game soundtrack. It’s A Wonderful Life will be the first musical McCartney has ever worked on.

Lee Hall is a playwright, screenwriter and lyricist. He is most popularly regarded for writing the 2000 film Billy Elliot and the book and lyrics for its musical stage adaptation. He most recently received acclaim for the 2019 Elton John biopic Rocketman. The musical had successful runs both in the West End and on Broadway where it received a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. He has shared credits with Richard Curtis for the screenplay of the film adaptation of War Horse. His most recent TV work is an adaptation of Nigel Slater’s Toast which starred Helena Bonham Carter and Freddie Highmore.

What is the story of It’s A Wonderful Life?

It’s A Wonderful Life is one of the most beloved films of all time and particularly a favourite Christmas time film. It’s a universal story that has had a place in the hearts of generation after generation and the story remains relevant still today. It follows the story of George Bailey, a man who is contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve, but after a guardian angel shows him what the world would be like without his kind deeds and selflessness, he comes to a heart-warming epiphany.

Sign up to our mailing list to be alerted of news about It’s A Wonderful Life and other theatre news.

By Jade Ali

A love for theatre stemmed from my love of literature and music, but the West End on my doorstep opened up a whole new appreciation and passion for all things stage-y