MENKEN MU­SIC

Vet­eran Dis­ney com­poser Alan Menken talks us through his sig­na­ture songs

Empire (UK) - - RE.VIEW - WORDS HELEN O’HARA

FEW COM­POSERS CAN claim as many clas­sic songs as Alan Menken — and no liv­ing fig­ure can match his eight Academy Awards. He re­turned to Beauty to add new songs to Bill Con­don’s live-ac­tion Beauty And

The Beast, so we took the chance to ask him about some clas­sics…

SUD­DENLY SEYMOUR

LIT­TLE SHOP OF HOR­RORS (1986) The off-broad­way mu­si­cal-turned-frank Oz mu­si­cal that made Menken and Howard Ash­man’s names is a hor­ror-com­edy about a man-eat­ing plant. But it fea­tures an achingly sin­cere bal­lad (“a gospel num­ber”) be­tween the nerdy Seymour and abused Au­drey — one that brought the house down in the tiny, 99-seat the­atre where it pre­miered, with Menken him­self on piano. “We didn’t have a sin­gle from

Lit­tle Shop, and pro­duc­ers kept try­ing to fig­ure [one] out. Some­one said to Howard, ‘Could we change the lyrics to “sud­denly some­one”?’ Howard said, ‘No!’ It al­ways had to be Seymour.”

GASTON

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991, 2017) The fun­ni­est song from both ver­sions of

Beauty sees the vil­lain­ous Gaston lustily sing his own praises (“I’m espe­cially good at ex­pec­to­rat­ing!”). It was writ­ten with Menken’s long-time lyri­cist Howard Ash­man, who trag­i­cally died be­fore the orig­i­nal film de­buted in 1991. “When Howard put the lyrics in front of me, I kept spit-tak­ing. He was so bril­liantly funny.” It’s given fresh gusto by Luke Evans in the live-ac­tion ver­sion. “Man, does he grab that with both hands! We added Howard’s cut lyrics back in. Now we’ve used them all up.”

YOU AIN’T NEVER HAD A FRIEND LIKE ME

ALADDIN (1992) Though Ash­man died dur­ing pro­duc­tion of Aladdin, he com­pleted all but three songs — in­clud­ing this fast-paced, Fats Waller-in­spired num­ber. The chal­lenge was com­bin­ing those lyrics with Robin Williams’ comic an­ar­chy as the Ge­nie. “First, Robin had to learn the song ex­actly as I wrote it. Then ev­ery­one said,

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.