skip navigation
Alan Menken

Alan Menken

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Alan Menken - NOT AVAILABLE

Find what your looking for faster use the search field below to shop for titles.

SEARCH TCM.COM/SHOP


OR ... Click here to VOTE > for this person to be released on Home Video

Also Known As: Died:
Born: July 22, 1949 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New Rochelle, New York, USA Profession: composer, lyricist, music producer, song arranger, accompanist, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most prolific and talented musicians in film and theater, composer Alan Menken co-wrote the captivating songs for a string of blockbuster Disney animated films, including "The Little Mermaid" (1989), "Beauty and the Beast" (1991) and "Aladdin" (1992), among many others. Menken had a hand in restoring life to two entertainment institutions that had long fallen out of favor with contemporary audiences, simply by merging Broadway show tune sensibilities with the magic of animation. Starting in theater with their surprise 1982 musical smash "Little Shop of Horrors," Menken and early collaborator Howard Ashman were called upon by Walt Disney Studios to help turn their ailing animation department around. Heavily influencing story and tone as well as music, Menken and Ashman were an unstoppable force, with musical numbers like "Under the Sea," "Be Our Guest" and "Beauty and The Beast," winning Academy Awards as well as the hearts of a generation of young movieg rs, enchanted with tales of undersea love, misunderstood beasts and flying carpets. After Ashman's tragic death, Menken worked with lyricist Tim Rice for Disney's "Pocahontas" (1995) and "Hercules" (1997), among others, and mounted...

One of the most prolific and talented musicians in film and theater, composer Alan Menken co-wrote the captivating songs for a string of blockbuster Disney animated films, including "The Little Mermaid" (1989), "Beauty and the Beast" (1991) and "Aladdin" (1992), among many others. Menken had a hand in restoring life to two entertainment institutions that had long fallen out of favor with contemporary audiences, simply by merging Broadway show tune sensibilities with the magic of animation. Starting in theater with their surprise 1982 musical smash "Little Shop of Horrors," Menken and early collaborator Howard Ashman were called upon by Walt Disney Studios to help turn their ailing animation department around. Heavily influencing story and tone as well as music, Menken and Ashman were an unstoppable force, with musical numbers like "Under the Sea," "Be Our Guest" and "Beauty and The Beast," winning Academy Awards as well as the hearts of a generation of young movieg rs, enchanted with tales of undersea love, misunderstood beasts and flying carpets. After Ashman's tragic death, Menken worked with lyricist Tim Rice for Disney's "Pocahontas" (1995) and "Hercules" (1997), among others, and mounted several stage productions based on animated hits as well. Along the way, he set Oscar records with eight wins, taking the stage more than any composer since Alfred Newman. With "Enchanted," (2007) a modern-day fairy tale combining animation and live action, it was a return to form for Menken and songwriter Steven Schwartz, earning nominations for three original songs which evoked the magic and wonder of his now classic Disney musical numbers from nearly two decades before.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Grew up in New Rochelle, New York
:
Studied piano and violin during high school
:
After graduating from NYU, performed in Manhattan clubs, sometimes playing his own compositions
:
Had an active career writing and singing commercial jingles
1978:
Chosen by playwright and lyricist Howard Ashman to write the music for the WPA (and later off-Broadway) musical, "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater"
:
Wrote music for Michael Bennett's workshop production of the New Wave rock musical, "Battle of the Giants" and provided music and lyrics for the Manhattan Theater Club's production of "Real Life Funnies"
:
Composed the punk rock musical "Atina, Evil Queen of the Galaxy" a star vehicle for drag performer Divine
1980:
Considered leaving show business after a series of flops
1980:
Contributed two songs (which he also performed) to the feature film, "The Line"
1982:
Wrote the song score (in collaboration with lyricist Ashman) for the Off-Broadway musical comedy, "Little Shop of Horrors"
1986:
Adapted the song score for "Little Shop of Horrors" for the feature film version
1987:
Composed the music for a musical production of "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" (lyrics by David Spencer) produced in Philadelphia
1989:
First work for Disney (with Ashman), produced and arranged songs for the popular Disney animated feature, "The Little Mermaid"
1990:
Contributed the song, "The Measure of a Man" to "Rocky V"; performed by Elton John
1991:
Wrote (with Ashman), produced and arranged songs for another well-received Disney feature, "Beauty and the Beast"
1991:
After Ashman died during the project, began collaborating with lyricist Tim Rice on the Disney feature, "Aladdin"
1992:
Wrote eight songs (in collaboration with lyricist Jack Feldman) and the score for Disney's live-action musical, "Newsies"
1992:
Composed music for "Weird Romance" (with David Spencer lyrics) produced off-Broadway
1992:
Filed breach of contract suit against Concorde-New Horizons over the musical rights to "Little Shop of Horrors" after Concorde granted an option for an animated TV series (using the music) to Saban International
1994:
Composed the music for the hit NYC musical production of "A Christmas Carol" at Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theater
1995:
Composed the score and music for the songs (Stephen Schwartz provided the lyrics) for Disney's animated hit "Pocahontas"
1997:
With David Zippel, wrote the songs for Disney's animated "Hercules"
1998:
Signed 10-year contract with Disney to provide songs for animated and live-action films
:
Collaborated with Zippel and book writer Larry Gelbart on stage musical biography of director Busby Berkeley
2002:
Worked with Gelbart on a musical adaptation of "Lysistrata" for the American Repertory Theatre; version not produced as ART artistic director deemed it "ferociously obscene"
2004:
Composed the music for the animated feature, "Home on the Range"
2007:
Composed all the music for the live-action/animated film, "Enchanted"; earned a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for the song, "That's How You Know"; also received two additional Oscar nominations for the songs "Happy Working Song" and "So Close"
2008:
Composed and wrote the music for the Broadway musical version of "The Little Mermaid"; earned a Tony award nomination for Best Original Score
2011:
Teamed with Glenn Slater to compose the music for Broadway's "Sister Act"; earned a Tony nomination for Best Original Score
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

New York University: New York , New York -
BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop: New York , New York -

Notes

Describing the ease and chemistry he felt writing songs with lyricist Howard Ashman, Menken described their close collaboration and mutual recognition of musical moments as "a kind of shorthand. . . . Howard would have the basic idea of the number. Then he would ask what the music might sound like." --Quoted in PEOPLE, December 16, 1991

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Janis Menken. Former ballerina. Met Menken while working at the Hebrew Arts Center where he was an accompanist; married 1972.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Norman Menken. Dentist.
mother:
Judith Menken. Homemaker.
sister:
Faye Menken. Actor. Older; appeared on Broadway as one of the daughters during the original run of "Fiddler on the Roof".
daughter:
Anna Menken. Born c. 1985.
daughter:
Nora Menken. Born c. 1988.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute