It’s amazing to think that a decade ago, Paddington was yesterday’s bear: a character remembered fondly by older generations but hardly central to, say, Britain’s entire self-image.
Well, Paul King’s unspeakably delightful films changed all that, and Paddington has never been a bigger deal: two blockbuster movies with a third on the way, weird but kind of charming conflation with the late Queen, and a major London immersive experience is apparently imminent.
And now there’s going to be a musical. It’s been announced today that ‘Paddington – The Musical’ is going to be a thing, produced by heavyweight Sonia Friedman in association with STUDIOCANAL and Eliza Lumley Productions on behalf of Universal Music UK.
Music and lyrics will come from founding member of McFly Tom Fletcher – which may seem like a slightly strange choice to non-parents, but he’s actually a massive-selling kids’ author, with a couple of imaginative stage shows under his belt as well, while the script is written by Olivier-nominated playwright Jessica Swale. It’ll be directed by the in-demand Luke Shepherd, responsible for the hit musical ‘& Juliet’, and next year’s ‘Just for One Day’ and ‘Starlight Express’.
In terms of what we’re actually getting on stage: no idea! It’s billed as being adapted from both the sweet original Michael Bond books and the more postmodern King films, though that doesn’t mean it’ll actually share a plot with either. As a guess, and based on general contemporary trends in theatre, Paddington himself seems more likely to be a very good puppet than a dude in a bear suit, but again, we are not currently privy to this information.
All is due to be revealed in 2025, when ‘Paddington – The Musical’ is scheduled to premiere ‘in the UK’ (so potentially an out-of-town tryout rather than straight into the West End). Whatever the case, it’s sure to be charming.