How La La Land And Greatest Showman Composers Pasek And Paul Helped Turn Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Into A Full-Blown Musical

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile with city in the background, voiced by Shawn Mendes
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Every generation seems to have a songwriting duo that has soundtracked the most beloved musicals of its time. For the current one, those names are clearly Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who have collaborated to compose the music of the wildly popular works Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land and The Greatest Showman. Their latest project is the upcoming 2022 movie Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, where they adapted the children’s story into a big musical about a singing croc. 

When CinemaBlend recently visited Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles, California to get a first look at the live-action/animation hybrid musical, the movie’s co-directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck spoke to how Pasek and Paul made Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile their next song-and-dance feature film. In Gordon’s words: 

We learned quite a bit about musicals from Pasek and Paul, who are masters at it and it's a much more efficient narrative storytelling structure. Characters can accomplish growth in a single song that would take 10 minutes in a normal movie. So we come out of much more narrative filmmaking. It was interesting how quick and efficient the audience is willing to move with you.

As the directors shared to CinemaBlend and a small group of other outlets, they’d never made a musical before, previously collaborating on comedies like Blades of Glory, The Switch and Office Christmas Party. However, they had some major talent on their hands in the form of the songwriting duo, who helped them realize a lot of the storytelling would be through the movie’s music, most of which is sung by Shawn Mendes embodying the singing crocodile. Speck then said this: 

And I think their choice early on was to make it diegetic. We didn't know what that word was, but what it means is that the singing is actually happening while it's happening. So that if I start singing right now, you guys hear me as opposed to a world where I have a bluebird on my finger and everybody sings. Both valid, but I think their choice because it was performative for Lyle was to make the music feel like it was actually really happening… And, it's different from what they've done. So I think that was also like an exciting challenge for them, but what they do, which is really unbelievable, is they write their music and they kind of trade through the process, some more musical moments, some more lyrical moments. And then they actually just take a piano and a guitar and they set up their iPhone and they're like, ‘Okay, so this is kind of what we were thinking’.

When the characters in Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile burst into song, they are actually supposed to be singing, rather than in other musicals, where it’s not always necessarily happening in this way. For the fall release, a big part of Lyle’s character is being a talented singing croc, and the numbers performed are in service of this, while in something like Oscar-winning musical La La Land, some of the time it’s more symbolic than physically happening. Gordon also said this: 

So, you'd be on set, wondering like, boy, I hope these songs are good, and then you would get this like piece of gold.

The directors shared that there are eight original songs and some reprises in Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile composed by Pasek and Paul, making it a full-blown musical. The movie also stars Javier Bardem, Constance Wu and Winslow Fegley, who also are part of the major musical numbers, as the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile trailer has teased as well

Following the duo’s catchy catalogue, including The Greatest Showman hit “This Is Me” and La La Land’s “City of Stars,” we’re curious which Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile songs will say with audiences. The family friendly movie hits theaters on October 7. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.