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Alan Menken

Alan Menken

American musical theatre and film composer and pianist.

Legendary composer Alan Menken has created some of the most beloved songs and musical scores of our time, with his unique voice as a composer capturing the imagination of audiences for over 35 years.

Known for his music on stage and screen, he is noted for his multiple works with the Walt Disney company (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin), as well as Broadway stage musicals Sister Act and Little Shop of Horrors. With eight Academy Awards, Alan has received more Oscars than any living person, and is the recipient of numerous other awards including Golden Globes, Grammys, Drama Desk Awards, and a Tony Award.

Alan Menken was born July 22nd, 1949 at French Hospital in New York City, to young aspiring actress/playwright, Judy Menken and boogie-woogie piano-playing dentist, Norman Menken, DDS. He grew up in a home, filled with music and theater (and comedy and drama) in New Rochelle, New York, along with his sisters, Faye and Leah.

Most importantly, to appease his parents, he auditioned for (and was admitted into) the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, taught by eminent conductor and composer, Lehman Engel. Even though his plan was to become a rock-star-recording-artist, he would dabble in writing more musicals through that workshop. Alan found his first and best network for learning and growing into the composer he now has become.

Upon graduating from NYU, he took a collection of his songs and wrote a rock-ballet for The Downtown Ballet Company, called ‘Children Of The World’. The work itself has mercifully faded into the distant past, but one aspect of that experience became the best moment in his life; meeting a beautiful ballet dancer named Janis Roswick. As of November 26th, 2019, they are together 48 years and married for 47.

Then came ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, the musical that put Ashman and Menken on the map as in-demand, up-and-coming musical theater writers. Based on the Roger Corman B-movie classic, it opened at the WPA Theater in the spring of ’82, to great reviews, lines around the block and countless offers from producers. It moved to the Orpheum Theater on 2nd Ave and St. Marks Place, where it ran for over 5 years and set the box-office record for highest grossing Off-Broadway show of all time. Productions followed in Los Angeles and London, along with national tours and all the rest. Most exciting was a movie deal, which opened doors to Hollywood.

When Howard Ashman called Alan about coming to work at Disney, the headline for Alan was the fact that they were re-uniting. (Howard had been collaborating with Marvin Hamlisch on a stage musical of SMILE for years; wearing the book writer, lyricist and director hats). The project was THE LITTLE MERMAID and the opportunity was amazing; to create an animated musical that could sit on the shelf alongside SNOW WHITE and CINDERELLA. They began work in New York and then shifted to working in Los Angeles, as Ashman was also wearing the Executive Producer’s hat. These were years of commuting back and forth between coasts for Alan, which was made especially hard because of the birth of his daughters, Anna and Nora. London was also a necessary trip, due to the LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS movie being shot there. For the movie, Menken and Ashman wrote a new song for the plant; “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space”, which earned them their first Oscar nomination.

At the turn of the century, Alan continues working on musical stage adaptations, film scoring, as well as continuing his work with Disney, writing for both HOME ON THE RANGE and ENCHANTED.

Alan brings several of his classic animated film works to the stage (THE LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN, HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, and NEWSIES), as well as new film-to-stage adaptations; SISTER ACT and LEAP OF FAITH.

Alan's projects begin to show new musical sides to him, from the controversial SAUSAGE PARTY, Theme Park music in Dubai, A BRONX TALE on Broadway, and even a full concert of his solo performance with A WHOLE NEW WORLD OF ALAN MENKEN.

Classic animated works of Alan are given new life, through live-action film (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN), Animated Television (TANGLED), and theatre (HERCULES and LITTLE SHOP revival).

Timeline

July 22, 1949
Alan Menken was born in New Rochelle.

Patents

Further Resources

Title
Author
Link
Type
Date

10 Questions With Alan and Anna Rose Menken

Web

May 22, 2013

A Disney Medley in One Take

Web

January 26, 2015

Alan Menken plays his whole songbook in 10 minute medley

Web

April 20, 2017

An Evening with Alan Menken

Web

August 6, 2020

News

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References

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