Bless my soul, Alan Menken is on a roll! Disney’s go-to animated film composer has already made the crossover to the live action films with Beauty and the Beast, and he’s not slowing down. On the last day of this weekend’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, Menken took to the stage to announce that he will score the music for Disney’s upcoming live action adaptations of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Just as exciting is the news of who will be joining Menken to write the lyrics for these films, and they’ve all had pretty big years.
The live action adaptation of Aladdin may have just found its stars, but their lyricists have already been set. La La Land‘s Benj Pasek and Justin Paul will collaborate with Menken on Disney’s adaptation of the 1992 animated film. All of these Oscar winners in one room is sure to create a fantastic follow-up to the work Menken and Tim Rice did on the original film. A very special Tony winner will be write the lyrics for new material for The Little Mermaid, none other than Lin-Manual Miranda.
With these two major films in development, it’s hard to believe that Menken has the time for any other projects. Yet there was also video proof that Menken has been keeping busy outside of his film commitments. As the original composer for Tangled, Menken also found the time to write a new song for the sequel series. D23 released an exclusive clip of said song, which is sung by Supergirl‘s Jeremy Jordan. Jordan recently got to show off his singing skills this past spring during the Supergirl/The Flash musical crossover event. Jordan reprises his role as the failed sorcerer Varian in an upcoming episode.
These announcements were tacked onto Menken’s original one-man show he debuted last fall, A Whole New World with Alan Menken. Audiences were treated to the Oscar winner belting out his award-winning tunes on the piano, which included “Be Our Guest” and the title song from Beauty and the Beast, “Go The Distance” from Hercules, medleys from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Tangled, “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, “Prince Ali” from Aladdin, and “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. Part of what makes Menken Disney’s greatest exclusive composer is that he understands the emotion behind every Disney story. He paid tribute to his first writing partner, the late Howard Ashman, with “Proud of Your Boy”, one of the last songs Ashman wrote for the original Aladdin before his death in 1991.
As if adding to his film credits wasn’t enough, Menken also re-confirmed his earlier announcement that he is currently working on the Broadway adaptation of Disney’s Hercules. Menken has had great success adapting Disney’s films to Broadway musicals, as well as off-Broadway for the limited series run of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which coincidentally featured another DCTV alum, Legends of Tomorrow‘s Ciara Renée).
I hope you’re as excited as I am for the next few years of Menken’s work.