Alan Menken just performed his new one-man show, “A Whole New World of Alan Menken” at D23 Expo, and we are going to need the rest of the day to recover. It was truly an emotional show, and we treasured every second of it!
Menken took us on a musical journey of his life, telling us stories about his family, about his beloved writing partner Howard Ashman, and about what it was like to write so many of the classic Disney songs we have all loved since our childhoods.
Zachary Levi, who voiced Flynn Rider in Tangled and in Tangled: The Series, came onstage to introduce Menken, saying that as a kid, he “dreamt of being a part of the Disney family, specifically Disney animated movies.” He said about Alan Menken: “He shaped my life.”
Zachary in that moment:
Us in that moment:
After entering to a standing ovation, Menken opened with “Prince Ali.” This was us during it:
He then played a song that he wrote when he was eleven years old, as well as a jingle for a pesticide brand, which was one of his earliest pieces of work. It was hilarious but also way too good for a pesticide jingle, because of course, this is Alan Menken we’re talking about.
At one point, he referred to watching Disney movies on VHS with his daughter as “the one safe space in the world,” which was not the first or only time he made us cry during this show.
Then, he sang a medley of songs from The Little Mermaid, and informed us that Sebastian was originally meant to be a stuffy English crab.
It was so hard not to sing along to “Under The Sea” but we had to show our respect!
During the Beauty and the Beast portion of the show, Menken said that when Howard Ashman put the lyrics for “Gaston” in front of him, he “could barely breathe from laughing.” We can only imagine!
He also shared that the music for “Be Our Guest” started as a piece of scrap music that he wrote as a placeholder for Ashman to write the lyrics with, but when he sat down to write the actual music, he couldn’t come up with anything better, which is good because every time we hear “Be Our Guest,” we’re like:
One of our favorite unscripted moments of the show was when Menken brought up The Hunchback of Notre Dame to thunderous applause, and Menken said, “Where were you in ’96?”
Other highlights included: “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, “Zero to Hero” from Hercules, and a medley of songs from Newsies. It was really hard not to jump up and dance, but we swayed and bobbed our heads as much as we could without disturbing others.
For the currently running broadway production of Aladdin, Menken was able to add in songs that he had written for the film with Howard Ashman that hadn’t made it into the movie—and he ended the show with “Proud of Your Boy,” which was another incredibly moving moment in an already very touching show.
But wait! After another standing ovation…
…Menken came back and played “Evermore” and “How Does A Moment Last Forever” from the new live-action retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and we all felt like this, basically:
It was such a magical show that reminded us (like Zachary Levi said) just how much the music of Alan Menken shaped our lives. Thank you, Alan! 💖