Everyone’s favourite feel-good Christmas film is being given the Paul McCartney treatment, with a score of new songs and a stage adaptation. The film about a man on the brink of suicide encountering a guardian angel who convinces him (and us) of the value of his life, despite its perceived failures, is one that has resonated across generations since it was first aired in 1946.
McCartney called the film ‘a universal story we can all relate to’, and it has the dubious honour of being one of very few films ever to make an audience root for a banker. Now, it’s being adapted into a musical, following much-loved productions like Mary Poppins and Mamma Mia in making the leap from the silver screen to the stage.
Though details are scarce so far, McCartney is responsible for the songs. He is undertaking the project with a little help from his friends, specifically co-writer Lee Hall, the man responsible for Billy Elliot and recent Elton John fantasia Rocketman.The musical is due to be released in late 2020, just in time for Christmas.
While not the first musical production of the film (Sheldon Harnick and Joe Raposo co-created a flop of a production of it in 1986), it marks brave new waters for McCartney, who has never written a musical before. It’ll undoubtedly be worth the wait; for producer Bill Kenwright, it also represents the culmination of many years’ ambitions. The well-known theatre producer (think Blood Brothers and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat) tried to acquire the rights from the film’s director Frank Capra when he was just setting out as a producer, but was politely rebuffed with a handwritten note. Luckily for us, the dream did not die there, and when Kenwright was recently offered the opportunity to purchase the rights, he jumped at the chance. Kenwright has reported being blown away with the songs McCartney has produced so far, saying they ‘exceeded expectations’ and ‘take you somewhere you don’t expect to go’.
|What||Sir Paul McCartney's It's A Wonderful Life musical, London 2020|