An Evening with Alan Menken

“Songs should have an infectious melody and rhythm and, I think, should elicit an emotion of happiness or of celebration or of sadness or of sorrow or of love or laughter, whatever” — Alan Menken

With this year’s D23 Expo upon us, I wanted to share one of the more memorable experiences that I had during that last Expo in 2017: a performance by Alan Menken.

The beginning pages of the 2017 Souvenir Guide listed all of the major panels and events that were taking place in Hall D23. Alan Menken’s show was listed on Sunday, the last day of the Expo, and I read the description to pass the time as I waited for other things.

A Whole New World of Alan Menken

Disney aficionados, film buffs and musical theater fans can expect a show like no other when eight-time Oscar-winner Alan Menken performs his own music and share entertaining anecdotes about his unrivaled career.

In all honesty, I hadn’t paid much attention to it for most of the weekend as I was too busy trying to get into the panels during the first two days.

However, when Sunday rolled around, I was singing a different tune.

By Sunday, my friend Shelby and I had spent two full days of buying merchandise, crying over trailer releases and sneak peaks and waiting in endless lines for fun Disney-themed experiences at the millions upon millions of booths that lined the Expo floor. We planned on spending the third day attending the much smaller panels and doing more shopping.

While we had gotten in line at 9:45 A.M. to try to get to the panel celebrating the anniversary of The Lion King at 10 A.M., we didn’t make inside the actual convention center until 11:30 A.M. (A running theme of this Expo was timing how long it took us to actually get inside). So we snagged tickets for Zero to Hero: The Making of Hercules and made a point to grab breakfast.

The Hercules panel was quite interesting. The panel celebrated the film’s 20th anniversary and was hosted by directors Ron Clements and John Musker. It showcased some interesting concept art and funny photos of the animators research trip to Greece, live-action reference footage, rare footage of unreleased songs and an amazing performance “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” by Susan Egan, who voiced Meg.

After the panel, Shelby and I got a small lunch and explored the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts pavilion. In 2017, they were focusing on the hype surrounding the construction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. There was concept art and models for what the Imagineers were brainstorming and a large model that showcased the layout of the new land. I think we spent a good hour or so staring at all of the details of the model.

After the Parks pavilion, we attempted to check out some of the main stores at the Expo. Even on the last day, the lines were still insanely long. We didn’t want to leave yet so I opened the Souvenir Guide and saw the listing for Alan Menken’s show. We figured it would be a nice way to round out our D23 experience.

The show was held in Hall D23, the massive arena where we had witnessed several announcements and previews and give-away. We managed to get seats that had a good view of the stage and noticed that the room was slowly filling up, even though it was the second show of the night.

Susan Egan, who we had already seen at the Hercules panel, appeared on the stage to introduce Alan Menken and host the show. And then it was just Alan, his piano and the audience.

Below are a few videos I took during the show.

“Poor Unfortunate Souls” and “Under the Sea”
A melody of songs from “Beauty and the Beast”
“Friend Like Me” from Aladdin
“Out There” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Songs from “Enchanted”
“When Will My Life Begin?”, “Mother Knows Best” and “I See the Light” from “Tangled”
Opening Number from the tv show “Galavant”

Along with being a award-winning composer, Alan Menken is fantastic at story-telling. Throughout the show, before he would perform a song, he would share some of the inspiration behind it. A lot of his collaboration was with Howard Ashman, who helped Alan compose songs and music for several successful Disney movies such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Whenever Alan talked about working with Howard, you could tell that he still misses his longtime collaboration partner, who died of complications from AIDS shortly before Beauty and the Beast was released in 1991.

A Whole New World with Alan Menken was definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you can only get at the D23 Expo. It was the perfect way to cap off a exhausting yet fun-filled weekend.

I am a bit disappointed that I won’t be attending D23 Expo this year but I am excited to see what comes out of it and which experiences will be shared on social media by those who are attending.

5 Comments

  1. This week, what I did was attend an Aladdin Informance- a few week’s before the show comes the show comes to Charlotte.

    Just a year ago- I joined Club Blume, a young adult club for those interested in theatre. It is named after Charlotte’s Blumenthal Performing Arts- it is why shows tours through Charlotte.

    They do these informances- which does things related to the show.

    For Aladdin- the food was middle-eastern. The talk was about all about the history of Disney music. We watched clips of some of the songs- and we sang along. It was only at the Aladdin one that they played the whole thing (since it was an Aladdin Informance).

    Like

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