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
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
Considered leaving show business after a series of flops
Contributed two songs (which he also performed) to the feature film, "The Line"
Wrote the song score (in collaboration with lyricist Ashman) for the Off-Broadway musical comedy, "Little Shop of Horrors"
Adapted the song score for "Little Shop of Horrors" for the feature film version
Composed the music for a musical production of "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" (lyrics by David Spencer) produced in Philadelphia
First work for Disney (with Ashman), produced and arranged songs for the popular Disney animated feature, "The Little Mermaid"
Contributed the song, "The Measure of a Man" to "Rocky V"; performed by Elton John
Wrote (with Ashman), produced and arranged songs for another well-received Disney feature, "Beauty and the Beast"
After Ashman died during the project, began collaborating with lyricist Tim Rice on the Disney feature, "Aladdin"
Wrote eight songs (in collaboration with lyricist Jack Feldman) and the score for Disney's live-action musical, "Newsies"
Composed music for "Weird Romance" (with David Spencer lyrics) produced off-Broadway
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
Composed the music for the hit NYC musical production of "A Christmas Carol" at Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theater
Composed the score and music for the songs (Stephen Schwartz provided the lyrics) for Disney's animated hit "Pocahontas"
With David Zippel, wrote the songs for Disney's animated "Hercules"
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
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"
Composed the music for the animated feature, "Home on the Range"
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"
Composed and wrote the music for the Broadway musical version of "The Little Mermaid"; earned a Tony award nomination for Best Original Score
Teamed with Glenn Slater to compose the music for Broadway's "Sister Act"; earned a Tony nomination for Best Original Score