The pop superstar who once released a movie and album called “Give My Regards to Broad Street” really does have designs on Broadway, after all. It was revealed Wednesday that Paul McCartney has already written a song score for a stage musical adaptation of the 1946 Frank Capra film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The former Beatle, who wrapped up his most recent tour Saturday with a rapturously received show at Dodger Stadium, has been at work for some time with writer Lee Hall — responsible for “Billy Elliot” on stage and the “Rocketman” screenplay — and British producer Bill Kenwright. Lee is collaborating on the lyrics with McCartney as well as writing the show’s book.
“Writing a musical is not something that had ever really appealed to me,” said McCartney in a statement. “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.”
The aim is to launch a production in late 2020 in the UK with a later move to Broadway.
How far along is he? Far, according to a report in the New York Post from a writer who says he’s already heard McCartney’s recordings of “more than 10” songs.
“On a recent trip to London, I got to listen to McCartney’s stunning demo tracks,” writes Johnny Oleksinski. “The songwriter segues easily into the musical theater style, while still giving his diehard fans that soulful McCartney sound. Every time a Beatle sings, an angel gets his wings. … On the CD, the singer performs every role from George Bailey to Mr. Potter and even tries his hand at acting. The more than 10 finished songs sound like a bona fide lost Beatles album, with one spectacular number’s rousing ending bringing to mind the ‘Na Na Na Na Na’s of ‘Hey Jude.'”
The producer obtained rights to the film from Paramount in 2016 and reached out to McCartney, who took an interest but didn’t send in any material until last year. “Out of the blue I got an email from Paul asking my thoughts on his first stab at an opening song,” said Kenwright in a statement. “He wasn’t sure — but wanted to know what Lee and I thought of it? I played the demo. Lee and I were unanimous. Our hero was a musical theater writer!”
Kenwright said that in January of this year, McCartney and Hall turned in demos of six more songs they’d worked on together in England and New York during the release cycle for the musician’s 2018 album “Egypt Station.” While there was no official confirmation of the Post’s statement that McCartney’s demos already number “more than 10,” a statement to the press said McCartney is “still in the final stages of completing songs” for the musical.