Alan Menken

Alan Menken - ©

born on 22/7/1949 in New Rochelle, NY, United States

Alan Menken

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Alan Menken
Born July 22 1949 (1949-07-22) (age 60)
Years active 1980-Present
Spouse(s) Janis Menken (1972-Present)

Alan Menken (born July 22, 1949) is an American musical theatre and film composer and pianist. Menken has collaborated with lyricists including Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Stephen Schwartz. For his work he has won eight Academy Awards as well as ten additional nominations.

Life and career

Menken was born into a Jewish family in New Rochelle, New York, the son of Judith and Norman Menken, a dentist.[1] He developed an interest in music at an early age, studying piano and violin. He went to New Rochelle High School in New Rochelle, New York. He attended New York University as a pre-med student, but later changed his focus to music. After college, he attended the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop. He performed frequently in local clubs and worked as a composer of jingles and songs and as an accompanist.

In the late 1970s, Menken wrote several shows that were successfully showcased, but were not produced. Menken's first major professional work was with Ashman for the Off-Broadway 1979 WPA Theatre production of the play God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, an adaptation of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. This was well received, but three years later, he achieved greater success with the 1982 Off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors, again with Ashman, for which he earned a Drama Desk Award nomination. Little Shop was adapted for a successful motion picture and later a Broadway run.

In 1983, Menken received the BMI Career Achievement Award for his body of work for musical theater, including Little Shop of Horrors, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Real Life Funnies, Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy (produced in workshop as Battle of the Giants), Patch, Patch, Patch, and contributions to numerous revues including Personals and Diamonds. In 1987, a musical adaptation of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, with lyrics by David Spencer, was produced in Philadelphia. In 1992, the WPA Theatre produced Menken's Weird Romance, also with lyrics also by Spencer. Menken's 1994 musical based on the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Mike Ockrent, debuted at Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theater. The show proved successful and is becoming an annual New York holiday event. Menken received both Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for the music to the stage musical version of Beauty and the Beast which opened on Broadway in 1994.

Menken is best known, however, for his work over the past two decades with Walt Disney Pictures scoring numerous films, including Disney animated classics The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules and Home on the Range, live-action Newsies, and most recently, its 2007 live-action fairy tale Enchanted. Menken has received dual Academy Awards for Best Score and Best Song on four of these projects. His eight awards overall from only eleven feature films scored give him one of the highest Oscar-to-film ratios of all film composers.

Menken's Sister Act the Musical was produced in 2006. A musical version of The Little Mermaid opened on Broadway in January 2008. Menken and his wife, Janis, a former ballet dancer, reside in upstate New York with their two children, Anna and Nora.


  • Little Shop of Horrors (1986 film) (Oscar nominee)
  • The Little Mermaid - 1989 film (Oscar winner)
  • Rocky V (the song "The Measure of a Man", score by Bill Conti) (1990)
  • Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue (supervising composer, the song "Wonderful Ways to Say No") (1990)
  • Beauty and the Beast - 1991 film (Oscar Winner)
  • Newsies (1992)
  • Lincoln (1992)
  • Aladdin (Oscar Winner) (1992)
  • A Christmas Carol (1994)
  • Pocahontas (Oscar Winner) (1995)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame - 1996 film (Oscar nominee)
  • Hercules - (Oscar Nominee) (1997)
  • Home on the Range (2004)
  • The Shaggy Dog (2006)
  • Enchanted (Oscar Nominee) (2007)
  • Rapunzel (2010)


  • Little Shop of Horrors (1982 musical)
  • 2008 Broadway musical (Tony nominee)
  • 1994 Broadway musical (Tony nominee)
  • Weird Romance (1992 Off-Broadway Musical and 2007 revival)
  • A Christmas Carol (1994 Broadway musical)
  • 1999 German musical
  • King David (1997)
  • Sister Act the Musical (2009)
  • The Snow Queen (pre-production)

Upcoming Projects

  • The Snow Queen is an animated feature in development at Walt Disney Animation Studios and Glenn Slater will be the lyricist.
  • Leap of Faith, a work-in-progress Broadway musical, based on the film Leap of Faith (opening date unknown, workshop scheduled for May 2008)[2]
  • Disney has also announced that "Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame", the Berlin stage musical adaptation of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame will be coming to Broadway stage in the next couple years. Although the extended music and new songs, as well as lyrics by Stephen Schwartz were completed for the 1999 premiere in Germany, the show is being fine tuned for American audiences, and in 2011, Alan and Stephen will be ready for a Broadway premiere with a happy ending only. (just like in 1996) when Esmeralda survived in the end.
  • Alan was assigned as the composer for the upcoming animated Disney film Rapunzel. The film went through plenty of re-tooling with dramatic changes to the story and crew. Menken will collaborate with Glenn Slater (lyricist from Home on the Range and The Little Mermaid Broadway production) for their second project.
  • The new, $100 million project at Disney's California Adventure Park, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Adventure attraction. This new attraction is a part of the park's nearly $1.6 billion expansion plan.
  • Alan recently confirmed in an interview that a film version of the Broadway stage production of "Beauty and the Beast" is currently in development.


Academy Award Nominations and Wins

  • 1986
    • Nominated, Original Song (with Howard Ashman) - "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space", from Little Shop of Horrors
  • 1989
    • Won, Original Score - The Little Mermaid
    • Won, Original Song (with Howard Ashman) - "Under the Sea", from The Little Mermaid
    • Nominated, Original Song (with Howard Ashman) - "Kiss the Girl", from The Little Mermaid
  • 1991
    • Won, Original Score - Beauty and the Beast
    • Won, Original Song (with Howard Ashman) - "Beauty and the Beast", from Beauty and the Beast
    • Nominated, Original Song (with Howard Ashman) - "Belle", from Beauty and the Beast
    • Nominated, Original Song (with Howard Ashman) - "Be Our Guest", from Beauty and the Beast
  • 1992
    • Won, Original Score - Aladdin
    • Won, Original Song (with Tim Rice) - "A Whole New World", from Aladdin
    • Nominated, Original Song (with Howard Ashman) - "Friend Like Me", from Aladdin
  • 1995
    • Won, Original Song (with Stephen Schwartz) - "Colors of the Wind", from Pocahontas
    • Won, Original Musical or Comedy Score (with Stephen Schwartz) - Pocahontas
  • 1996:
    • Nominated, Original Musical or Comedy Score (with Stephen Schwartz) - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • 1997
    • Nominated, Original Song (with David Zippel) - "Go the Distance", from Hercules
  • 2007
    • Nominated, Original Song (with Stephen Schwartz) - "Happy Working Song", from Enchanted
    • Nominated, Original Song (with Stephen Schwartz) - "So Close", from Enchanted
    • Nominated, Original Song (with Stephen Schwartz) - "That's How You Know", from Enchanted

Tony Awards and Drama Desk Awards

  • 1983 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music - Little Shop of Horrors [nominee]
  • 1994 Tony Award for Best Original Score - Beauty and the Beast [nominee]
  • 1994 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music - Beauty and the Beast [nominee]
  • 2008 Tony Award for Best Original Score - The Little Mermaid [nominee]

Further reading

  • Disney Biography of Menken
  • Menken, Alan. Britannica Book of the Year, 1997. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved September 6, 2007.


  2. playbill article, April 30, 2008

External links

  • MusicalTalk interview with Alan Menken
  • Alan Menken at the Internet Movie Database
  • SoundtrackNet entry for Alan Menken
  • The Whole New World of Alan Menken
  • Alan Menken: "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST captures the magic of Disney animations and brings it to the stage" Alan Menken in Barcelona's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
This page was last modified 16.11.2009 01:17:53

This article uses material from the article Alan Menken from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.