Musical mastermind Alan Menken reflects on 10 years of 'Aladdin' on Broadway

ByJoelle Garguilo OTRC logo
Thursday, April 4, 2024
Composer Alan Menken reflects on 10 years of Aladdin on Broadway
Alan Menken has many accolades to his name - eight Oscars, seven Golden Globes, a Tony award, an Emmy award and 11 Grammy awards.

NEW YORK -- Anyone who has spent an afternoon with songs from "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," or "Aladdin" stuck in your head has one man to thank for that: Alan Menken.

The composer who ushered in the golden age of animated musicals is celebrating a major milestone: a decade of "Aladdin" on Broadway.

Menken has many accolades to his name - eight Oscars, seven Golden Globes, a Tony award, an Emmy award and 11 Grammy awards.

The musical mastermind is the maestro behind some of Disney's most memorable melodies. And chances are the composer's music has made some sort of an impression on you.

It certainly has made in impact on screen and on stage as this year marks a decade of "Aladdin" on Broadway - making it the 15th longest-running show on Broadway.

However, when Menken and the late Howard Ashman first conceived "Aladdin," it looked a little different.

"Initially it was a Buddy picture, and that's what Aladdin was... Babkak, Omar, and Kassim were a foursome that were busking on the streets of Agrabah," Menken said.

Menken said when Ashman died, there was a major change happening to the storyline, and certain songs like "Proud of Your Boy" and "High Adventure" had to be cut.

"And now with the Broadway show, we were able to get them back in," Menken said. "And that was to me the headline of the whole thing, was I can get those songs back."

Menken said he loved finding the vocabulary of all the songs and how they mesh together and what is has meant to the world.

"As a composer, in a way, I'm like an architect, I'm designing a house that others are going to live in," he said.

In fact, Menken revealed that his own father -- who would sit at the piano and play Fats Waller -- was the inspiration when they created the Genie.

Menken said it was very emotional and an immense relief the first time he saw everything come to life.

"It's very gratifying and very satisfying, because it's now out of my hands and into the audience's hands," he said. "And, you know, it's like, I can move on with my life to the next dream."

Menken said every musical he gets to work on is a dream.

"Every musical is you're creating a world and you wanted to be a world that on the one hand were familiar with, and on the other hand, we've never been in before," Menken said.

He said the opportunity to do that is priceless.