Alan Menken

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Alan Menken
Menken in 1977
Background information
Birth name Alan Irwin Menken
Born (1949-07-22) July 22, 1949 (age 69)
New York City, New York U.S.
Origin New Rochelle, New York, U.S
Genres Pop, musical theatre, operatic pop, film score
Occupation(s) Composer, songwriter, pianist, record producer
Instruments Piano, accordion, guitar, violin
Years active 1980–present
Labels Disneyland, Walt Disney Records, Warner Bros.
Associated acts Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater, Stephen Schwartz, Elton John, Tim Rice, David Zippel, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Website Alan Menken Official website

Alan Irwin Menken[1] (born July 22, 1949) is an American musical theatre and film composer and pianist. Menken is best known for his scores for films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. His scores for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Pocahontas have each won him two Academy Awards. He also composed the scores for Little Shop of Horrors, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Newsies, Home on the Range, Enchanted, Tangled, The Shaggy Dog, and Mirror Mirror.

Menken has collaborated on several occasions with lyricists including Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Glenn Slater, Stephen Schwartz, and David Zippel. With eight Academy Award wins (four each for Best Original Score and Best Original Song), Menken is the second most prolific Oscar winner in a music category after Alfred Newman, who has nine Oscars.

Life and education

Menken was born in New York, NY to Norman Menken a dentist and his wife Judith an actress and dancer.[2] [3] 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 college focusing on music at New York University's Steinhardt School. 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.

Menken has been married to former ballet dancer Janis Roswick-Menken since 1972; they met when Alan composed a ballet and Janis came to audition. The couple have two daughters Anna Rose Menken and Nora Menken.

Menken lives in North Salem, New York.[4]


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. The play was an idea he got from Amy Lazarus, who originally had the idea for the play after watching the film one afternoon with her then friend, Bill O'Brien.[citation needed] Little Shop was adapted into a successful motion picture in 1986, and received 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 the Walt Disney Studios scoring numerous films, including Disney animated classics The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Home on the Range, and Tangled, as well as the live-action Disney films Newsies (1992) and Enchanted (2007). Menken has received dual Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song on four of these projects. With eight Academy Award wins (four each for Best Original Score and Best Original Song), only composer Alfred Newman (nine wins) and Walt Disney (22 wins) have received more Oscars than Menken. He is tied in third place with late costume designer Edith Head. He currently holds the record for the most wins for a living person. He was named a Disney Legend in 2001.

A musical version of The Little Mermaid opened on Broadway in January 2008 and in Europe/the Netherlands in June 2012. Menken's Sister Act the Musical was produced in London, 2009, and opened on Broadway in Spring 2011. He was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Score for his work.[5]

Menken received the 2,422nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 10, 2010.[6]

He currently has a musical version of Aladdin on Broadway whilst revising The Hunchback of Notre Dame for a Broadway audience.[7]

In December 2010, he was a guest on NPR's new quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!.

In January 2013, he was a special guest at the annual Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta, GA. He gave a special concert for attendees, including a special medley and several songs that were cut from various productions, while talking about his creative process. While there, he was also honored with the Freddie G. Award for Musical Achievement. Upon receiving this award, he was serenaded with "Be our Guest" by a select group of performers.[8]


Score and/or songs

Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
1986 Little Shop of Horrors Frank Oz Warner Bros.
The Geffen Company
1989 The Little Mermaid Ron Clements
John Musker
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios
1991 Beauty and the Beast Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios
1992 Newsies Kenny Ortega Walt Disney Pictures N/A
Aladdin Ron Clements
John Musker
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios
1993 Life with Mikey James Lapine Touchstone Pictures N/A
1995 Pocahontas Mike Gabriel
Eric Goldberg
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios
1996 The Hunchback of Notre Dame Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios
1997 Hercules Ron Clements
John Musker
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios
2004 Home on the Range Will Finn
John Sanford
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Noel Chazz Palminteri Convex Group N/A
A Christmas Carol Arthur Allan Seidelman Hallmark Entertainment
Television film
2006 The Shaggy Dog Brian Robbins Walt Disney Pictures N/A
2007 Enchanted Kevin Lima Walt Disney Pictures N/A
2010 Tangled Byron Howard
Nathan Greno
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios
2012 Mirror Mirror Tarsem Singh Relativity Media N/A
2016 Sausage Party Greg Tiernan
Conrad Vernon
Columbia Pictures
Annapurna Pictures
2017 Beauty and the Beast Bill Condon Walt Disney Pictures Returning to score from animated film.
TBA Lidsville Conrad Vernon Universal Pictures
DreamWorks Animation
TBA Untitled musical comedy[9] Jeremy Garelick Universal Pictures N/A

Songs only


  • Sesame Street [the songs "Grouchelot", "What is Friend?", "It's Gonna Get Dirty Again," "Snuffle Friends," "Martian Family (Yip Yip Song)," and "Todos un Pueblo"] 1989-1990
  • Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue (supervising composer, the song "Wonderful Ways to Say No") 1990
  • Lincoln 1992
  • A Christmas Carol 2004
  • The Neighbors - S01E20 "Sing Like a Larry Bird" [the songs "More or less the kind of Thing you may or may not Possibly see on Broadway", "Giselle", "More or less the kind of Thing you may or may not Possibly see on Broadway" (Reprise)] 2013 (Emmy nominee)
  • Galavant (Thirty songs and reprises, score by Christopher Lennertz) 2014



Upcoming projects

  • Menken is composing a new musical based on a 1994 film Corrina, Corrina with lyrics by Brian Yorkey and book by Jessie Nelson (writer for the film's screenplay).[10]
  • Two musicals in the composition process are Mrs. Doubtfire with lyrics by David Zippel and book by Harvey Fierstein[12] and Happy Trails-- a bio-musical about Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Marshall Brickman.[13] However, they were replaced by T Bone Burnett.[14] Also, David Zippel has been ax as lyricist for Mrs. Doubtfire, but Alan Menken and Harvey Fierstein are remained.[15] No new lyricist announced at this time.


Academy Award nominations and wins

Golden Globe nominations and wins

Golden Raspberry Awards

Grammy Awards

Menken has eleven Grammy awards, including Song of the Year for 1993.[17]

Tony Awards

  • 1994 Nominee Tony Award for Best Original Score - Beauty and the Beast
  • 2008 Nominee Tony Award for Best Original Score - The Little Mermaid
  • 2011 Nominee Tony Award for Best Original Score - Sister Act
  • 2012 Winner Tony Award for Best Original Score - Newsies
  • 2014 Nominee Tony Award for Best Original Score - Aladdin

Emmy Awards

Drama Desk Awards

Other awards


  1. "Alan Menken Discography at Discogs". Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  2. "Alan Menken Biography (1949-)", accessed August 27, 2011
  3. "Alan Menken Biography (1949-)", accessed August 27, 2011
  4. Westchester Fall Arts Preview: Theater Retrieved 2014-10-02.
  5. "2011 Tony Nominations Announced!", May 3, 2011
  6. Gans, Andrew."Alan Menken to Be Honored with Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame", November 8, 2010
  7. "BWW Exclusive: Alan Menken Talks 'Tangled', 'Sister Act', 'Leap Of Faith', 'Hunchback', 'Aladdin' & More", November 15, 2010
  8. Junior Theatre Festival 2013
  9. Fleming Jr., Mike (April 16, 2015). "Universal Wins 7-Figure Auction For Josh Gad & Jeremy Garelick Musical With Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz Tunes". Deadline. Retrieved October 31, 2015. 
  11. McNary, Dave (March 16, 2015). "Disney’s Live-Action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Set for March 17, 2017". Variety. Retrieved January 10, 2016. 
  17. "Past Winners Search". Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  18. "Nominations 2013 Outstanding Original Music Lyrics". Retrieved 7 December 2013. 

Further reading

External links