Alan Menken, the legendary composer who is responsible for providing the scores for several Disney animated classics, was hard at work on the studio’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid when the coronavirus ground Hollywood to a halt. And while we already knew that the new movie would feature new music, we weren’t sure about exactly how much to expect. But now we know: the ebullient composer recently revealed that there will be four new songs for the film.
Read on for his exact quotes, plus news about Disenchanted, Hercules, and more.
Menken, the eight-time Oscar winner who took home Academy Awards for his work on the scores to films like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and yes, the 1989 The Little Mermaid, is teaming up with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda for The Little Mermaid remake soundtrack, with Menken handling the score and Miranda writing the lyrics.
Yesterday, Rosie O’Donnell put together a one-time revival of her Emmy-award winning talk show to raise money for The Actors Fund during the coronavirus crisis, and Menken was one of many guests who dropped by (virtually) to talk about what they’ve been up to. Starting at the 1:02:15 mark in the video above, Menken explained what he’s been up to, giving an update not only on The Little Mermaid, but on a flurry of other projects:
“This has been a great time for writing. Production stopped on The Little Mermaid movie. We recorded all the songs, and I wrote four new songs with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the lyricist for Mermaid. And I’m working on Disenchanted, the sequel to Enchanted. And I have another Broadway show. Oh, and Hercules is coming to the stage, of course. We did that in Central Park last summer. Just a whole bushel of new projects.”
While the Broadway show remains a mystery and details about Hercules are still scarce, the fact that Menken is actively working on Disenchanted is good news for that long-awaited sequel. “We are handing in a script in a couple weeks that I’m super happy with,” director Adam Shankman said in 2018. “Then gotta get the music written.” Sounds like progress is being made – though we’re still not 100% clear whether this film will end up debuting in theaters or on Disney+.
Menken also played a medley of his Disney tunes on the piano, something he’s been doing for a while now; he also did it at the Aladdin junket last year. I’d highly recommend checking that out if you need a little jolt of joy in your life. (And frankly, doesn’t everyone?)
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