Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Destination D: 75 years of Animation: Alan Menken

The final event of Destination D 2012 was an evening with Alan Menken.  Menken was named a Disney Legend in 2001 and holds more Academy Awards than any other living person (8).  In fact, the audience was packed with legends: Dave Smith, Richard Sherman, Bob Gurr, Tony Baxer...

The performance was more like a conversation.  Menken would talk about songs and films and then play short pieces from them.  He played from his work with Disney as well from his work on Broadway and films.  It was an amazing evening and truly a highlight of Destination D!  At one point, Menken joked that he thought Oscars came in pairs - you wrote some songs for a Disney movie and they handed you two Oscars.  He has won Academy Awards in 1990 for Little Mermaid Score and Under the Sea, in 1992 for Beauty and the Beast score, and Beauty and the Beast song, in 1993 for the score for Aladdin, and A Whole New World, and 1996 for Score of Pocahontas and Colors of the Wind.  He also won Golden Globes for Mermaid, Beauty, Aladdin, and Pocahontas.  he has 11 Grammy awards (including Song of the Year for 1993).  This year, 2012, he won a Tony for the score of Newsies. Trivia: Hard Times, High Times from the film version got him a Razzie.

Prince Ali was the song Menken opened with.  We then took a journey through his career.  We heard about his work on God Bless you Mr. Rosewater and then his well known Littl Shop of Horrors.  He played us the "dark side of grease" with a song that wasn't used.

From Little Mermaid we heard Part of your World, Poor Unfortunate Souls, Kiss the Girl, and Under the Sea.

From Beauty and the Beast; Belle, Be Our Guest, Gaston, and Beauty and the Beast. He talked about how they had recorded a pop version and the version for the movie and had mistakenly sent Angelea Landsbury the pop version.  To which she said no.  Once they got her the right version, she did it in one take.  Menken also related that he had given Howard a dub tune to use for Gaston, and it turns out he used it as was; no one could beat up a character like Howard!

Aladdin was next where we heard a song cut from the movie, A Whole New World, and A Friend Like Me.  Originally there wer going for a Fat's walla style Genie.

From Newsies Santa Fe and King of New York.

From Beauty and the Beast's Broadway production: Human Again.

From Pocohantas and Hunchback of Notre Dame: Colors of the Wind, Bells of Notre Dame, and Out There.

We heard music from A Christmas Carol which played for ten years at the Gardens.

When writing for Hercules the orgianl hero was song was to be a ballad, but he threw it out nd wrote Go the distance.  He also played Zero to Hero.

We heard his work on King David.

 At one point there was talk of a prequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Who Discovered Roger Rabbit).  Menken wrote a song for the project called This Only appens in the Movies in a style that was a tribute to the old style musical.

 Home on the Range was quickly discussed "You haven't lived until you've seen a group of animators on horse back" and we hear Patch of Heaven, the Yodel Song, and Will the Sun Ever Shine Again (strongly influenced by the tragedy of September 11th).

From Sinbada's attraction at Tokyo Disney Sea we heard Compass of your Heart.

From Enchanted: True Love's Kiss, Working Song, and How Does She Know.

From the production of Mermaid for the stage Menken played Flounder and Ariel's sister's song.

He played Raise your Voice from Sister Act.

I personally was very happy to hear Menken refer to Tangled as Rapunzel and he played the first version of Rapunzel's song, and everyone has a dream.

 Menken wrote a short song for Captain America.

He talked about the phenomenon that is Newsies and played Katehrin'es Song from new production of Newsies.  We also heard about the new production of Aladdin and the Genie's song about being free.

The evening closed with a tribute to Howard: Proud of Your Boy.

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