When Disney asks you if you’d be interested in doing an interview with Disney Legends Alan Menken & Richard Sherman you scream quietly to yourself, you try to stop shaking, you regain your composure and say “YES!!!!!”
Is there a Disney fan anywhere, or anyone for that matter that doesn’t know the music of Disney legends Alan Menken and Richard Sherman? I defy you now to sing along when you hear any song from “Mary Poppins,” “Jungle Book”, “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast”, or their non-Disney accomplishments such as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” or “Little Shop of Horrors.” Today I was thrilled to be a part of a conference call with these two amazing talents all leading up to their concert at D23 this Saturday. Both gracious, easygoing and down to earth, they shared for a better part of an hour what it has been like to be a part of the history of music through the years. Here’s a little background of these two extraordinary talents:
Richard M. Sherman and his brother Robert B. Sherman composed some of the most beloved songs in the Disney canon. The Disney Legends won two Oscars® for their work on Mary Poppins, and during their decades-long association with Disney they wrote more than 200 songs for 27 films and two dozen television productions. They made unforgettable contributions to such Disney films as The Parent Trap, The Jungle Book, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and the entire Winnie the Pooh series, as well as the family classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They also penned beloved songs for Disney Parks including the theme songs for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, It’s a Small World, and Carousel of Progress. Richard wrote the song “Make Way for Tomorrow Today” for the blockbuster film Iron Man 2.
With eight Academy Awards, Alan Menken has received more Oscars than any living person. He has written songs and scores for some of the world’s most beloved films: Tangled, Enchanted, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Little Shop of Horrors, Home on the Range and Newsies. His song “Star Spangled Man,” was the patriotic anthem of the 2011 hit film Captain America: The First Avenger. Menken’s Broadway successes include his 2012 Tony Award®for Newsies, plus The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors, and Sister Act. His other stage productions include King David, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and his latest stage production Aladdin: The New Musical, opening next year.
“Richard Sherman and I share so many things; our cherished association with The Walt Disney Company, the blessing of having the opportunity to share our musical talents with “children of all ages” and a genuine mutual admiration—but one thing we’ve never gotten to share is a concert stage,” said Menken. “This summer at the D23 Expo 2013, we will do just that. And I can’t think of anyone I’d prefer to share that stage with. Richard, along with his brother Robert, wrote songs that filled my formative years with joy and fantasy. And, all these years later, I can say with complete honesty that there is no one I’ve met in our business who is more warm and generous than my friend and fellow songwriter, Richard Sherman.”
Attendees of the 2013 D23 Expo will have the opportunity to attend this very unique event on a first-come, first-serve basis; admission to the Expo is required. The event will take place in the 4,000 seat D23 Expo Arena and will also be simulcast into a 2,000-seat overflow theater inside the Anaheim Convention Center.
And now for just a few of the highlights from the telephone conference with these two talented men:
Richard Sherman’s favorite song is “Feed the Birds” as it meant so much to Walt Disney.
Alan Menken is very fond of the song “Will The Sun Ever Shine Again?” which was inspired by his emotions and feelings following 9-11
Richard Sherman’s favorite song of Alan Menken’s is “Suddenly Seymour from “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Part of Your World”. Alan Menken’s Favorite song of Richard Sherman’s is “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” of Mary Poppins fame.
Menken shared that he considers Sherman “A dear friend…extraordinarily supportive in my relationship with Disney.”
Sherman shared with me : “I have a good time … I’m 85 years old, but don’t feel like it. I have my health and enthusiasm for what I do. … People get joy out of my work and that is my reward, truly my reward.” And when asked if he thought his brother would be joining in on Saturday night at their joint concert, he responded “My brother Robert wasn’t the performer, but he’d be up on stage with us Saturday participating in some of the choruses if he was still with us. Robert Sherman died on March 6, 2012.
Alan Menken said a Disney animated musical “doesn’t get written without us. The story is driven by songs.”
Saturday, fans at D23 will be treated to the two legends performing together. When asked about the concert, Menken and Sherman had this to say: “The Concert will be in three parts: Each will play separately, and then join in a chat about the work, but no duets. It will be special get together, featuring some favorite pieces as well as a couple of non-Disney things, too.”
Richard Sherman further shared:” … we’re going to do songs that have meaning to us and to Disney fans.
He says he’ll be performing an obscure song he’s proud of … “it’ll be a surprise, something people won’t be expecting.”
Going to D23? Be sure not to miss their show This once-in-a-lifetime event, entitled “Richard M. Sherman and Alan Menken: The Disney Songbook,” will take place Saturday, August 10, as part of the Ultimate Disney Fan Event at the Anaheim Convention Center. The concert will take place inside the 4,000-seat D23 Expo Arena and will be simulcast into a 2,000-seat overflow theater inside the Convention Center.