Paul McCartney is writing his first-ever musical, a stage version of It’s a Wonderful Life

It's scheduled for a late 2020 premiere

It's a Wonderful Life Musical Paul McCartney, photo by MJ Kim
Paul McCartney, photo by MJ Kim

    It’s hard to believe, but Paul McCartney is writing a musical for the first time ever in his career. The musical, which will be set for a proper stage production, is an adaptation of the classic holiday movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Now just imagine a day in the life of a wonderful life. Oh boy.

    The Beatles singer and bassist will write both music and lyrics for the musical. He’s collaborating with playwright Lee Hall, the screenplay writer behind Billy Elliot and Rocketman, as well as West End producer Bill Kenwright. When finished, the stage musical adaptation will open in late 2020. No official dates or venue information has been announced yet.

    The wheels were set in motion three years ago, according to The Guardian. “Like many of these things, this all started with an email,” McCartney said. “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.”

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    As for the film itself, McCartney described It’s A Wonderful Life as “a universal story we can all relate to”. Perhaps that’s his British roots speaking. In 2018, the film was named the UK’s favorite Christmas film in two different polls. For those who have never seen Frank Capra’s 1946 film, it’s about an endearing but conflicated small-town man contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve after he’s framed for defrauding bank customers. When a guardian angel shows him what the world would be like without him and his good actions, he reconsiders (and consequently gives one of the best movie endings of all time).

    “It has absolutely everything: comedy, pathos and a rare humanity which has touched generation after generation. Yet it just couldn’t be more relevant,” said Hall. “To give it a life on the stage is an immense privilege, but to do it with Paul McCartney is off the scale. Paul’s wit, emotional honesty and melodic brilliance brings a whole new depth and breadth to the classic tale. I feel as if an angel must be looking after me.”

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    It sounds like the musical’s creators will simply be having a wonderful Christmastime. As for McCartney, he will get to flex a new musical muscle. It’s surprising he’s never written a musical before not just given his status as a music legend, but also his diverse list of career accomplishments over the years. McCartney has written full-band albums, countless solo albums, starred in jukebox musical films like A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, performed live with members of Nirvana, collaborated with artists like Kanye West and Rihanna, and even penned songs for the Destiny video game soundtrack. Leave it to him to still try new things at age 77.


    Meanwhile, McCartney is still busy touring the world and playing career-spanning setlists live. Earlier this week, he surprised fans in Los Angeles by bringing Ringo onstage to perform live together again.