|Date of Birth
||22 July 1949
|Place of Birth
||New Rochelle, New York, USA
Alan Menken developed an interest in music at an early age, studying piano and violin. He attended New York University as a pre-med student, but later changed his focus to music. After college, he attended the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, through which he met Howard Ashman. He performed frequently in local clubs and worked as a composer of jingles and songs and as an accompanist.
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. Little Shop was adapted for a successful motion picture and later a Broadway run.
In 1983, Menken received the BMI Career Achievement Award for his body of work for the musical theater, including Little Shop, 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 on several Disney animated features, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Home on the Range. Menken has received eight Academy Awards and has one of the highest Oscar to film ratios of anyone in the industry. He recently produced all the music for the Disney movie, Enchanted (2007)