The Best Musicals by Alan Menken

Over 90 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Musicals by Alan Menken
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Vote up the best Alan Menken musicals.

Alan Menken is one of the most revered composers in musical theater. Hs name is closely associated with the film scores for some of Disney’s most timeless films, including The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, but he’s had incredible hits on Broadway as well. This list of the best Alan Menken musicals is impressive, to say the least.

Alan Menken musicals are unforgettable. His melodies are among the most recognized by fans of musical theater. Top Alan Menken musicals and plays include Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors, and the theater adaptations of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. But well before he ever hit the Great White Way, Menken was composing melodies on shows like Sesame Street!

Any Alan Menken musical or play list must include Newsies – who can see that show and not hum along? The same is true with another Menken musical, Sister Act. In addition to his Broadway hit shows, Alan Menken also composed for a couple of off-Broadway shows. They are included on this list. Vote them up if you’ve seen them, or heard his score, and agree.

Alan Menkin is so talented, he’s basically nominated for a Tony Award for every show he works on these days. Which one is the best? Time to decide!

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  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a musical based on the 1996 Disney film of the same name, which in turn was inspired by the 1831 Victor Hugo novel of the same name. It has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and book by James Lapine. The musical premiered in 1999 in Berlin, Germany as Der Glöckner von Notre Dame. It was produced by Walt Disney Theatrical, the company's first musical to premiere outside the U.S. It ran for three years, becoming one of Berlin's longest-running musicals. It is a lot closer to the original source material than the film. The Hunchback of Notre Dame has been highly praised due to its darker mature tone and its gothic set design, among other things. Notably, the piece has a highly complex melodic structure, relying on a series of musical leitmotifs which are reprised either instrumentally or vocally. Each of the main character has a theme. Clopin's The Bells of Notre Dame acts as a narrative devise to tell parts of the story. "Top Of The World" and "Heaven's Light" serve as themes for Quasimodo and Esmeralda, "Out of Love" is a theme for Phoebus and Esmeralda, and the song "Esmeralda" mostly serves as a theme for Frollo and Esmeralda.
  • Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton. Adapted from Walt Disney Pictures' Academy Award-winning 1991 animated musical film of the same name – which in turn had been based on the classic French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont – Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a cold-blooded prince who has been magically transformed into an unsightly creature as punishment for his selfish ways. To revert into his true human form, the Beast must first learn to love a bright, beautiful young woman whom he has imprisoned in his enchanted castle before it is too late. Critics, who hailed it as one of the year's finest musicals, immediately noted the film's Broadway musical potential when it was first released in 1991, encouraging Disney CEO Michael Eisner to venture into Broadway. All eight songs from the animated film were reused in the musical, including a resurrected musical number which had been cut from the motion picture. Original songwriter Menken composed six new songs for the production alongside lyricist Rice, replacing Ashman who had died during production of the film. Woolverton, who had written the film's screenplay, adapted her own work into the musical's libretto, and specifically expanded upon the characterization of the Beast. Woolverton also expanded the storylines of the castle staff from servants who had already been transformed into household objects into humans who were gradually turning into inanimate objects. Costumes were designed by Ann Hould-Ward, who based her creations on both the animators' original designs as well as the Rococo art movement after researching how clothing and household objects looked during the 18th century. After completing tryouts in Houston, Beauty and the Beast premiered on Broadway on April 18, 1994, starring Susan Egan and Terrence Mann as the eponymous Belle and Beast, respectively. The musical opened to mixed reviews from theatre critics, but was a massive commercial success and well received by audiences. Beauty ran on Broadway for 5,461 performances for thirteen years (1994 - 2007), becoming Broadway's tenth longest-running production in history. The musical has grossed more than $1.4 billion worldwide and played in thirteen countries and 115 cities. It has also become a popular choice for junior, amateur & high school productions.
  • Little Shop of Horrors is a comedy horror rock musical, by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The musical is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film The Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Roger Corman. The music, composed by Menken in the style of early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown, includes several well-known tunes, including the title song, "Skid Row", "Somewhere That's Green", and "Suddenly, Seymour". The musical premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1982 before moving to the Orpheum Theatre Off-Broadway, where it had a five-year run. It later received numerous productions in the U.S. and abroad, and a subsequent Broadway production. Because of its small cast and relatively simple orchestrations, it has become popular with community theatre, school and other amateur groups. The musical was also made into a 1986 film of the same name, directed by Frank Oz.
  • Aladdin
    45 votes
    Aladdin is a musical based on the 1992 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin. The story follows the familiar tale of a poor young man who is granted three wishes by a genie in a lamp, which he uses to woo a princess and to thwart the sultan's evil Grand Vizier.
  • Newsies
    50 votes
    Newsies The Musical is a Disney Theatrical Productions stage musical based on the 1992 film Newsies, which in turn was inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City. The show has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and a book by Harvey Fierstein. The musical premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011 and made its Broadway debut in 2012.
  • The Little Mermaid is a stage musical produced by Disney Theatrical, based on the animated 1989 Disney film of the same name and the classic story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen about a mermaid who dreams of the world above the sea and gives up her voice to find love. Its book is by Doug Wright, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman (written for the film), with additional lyrics by Glenn Slater. Its underwater setting and story about aquatic characters requires unusual technical designs and strategies to create gliding movements for the actors. After a pre-Broadway tryout in Denver, Colorado from July to September 2007, the musical began Broadway previews on November 3, 2007 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, replacing Disney's Beauty and the Beast. The production officially opened on January 10, 2008 and closed on August 30, 2009 after 685 performances and 50 previews. It introduced Broadway debuts by director Francesca Zambello and Sierra Boggess in the title role. Subsequent productions have been seen in US regional theatres and internationally. A modified version of the musical with a new book and direction by Glenn Casale was developed in 2012, and this version is the basis for subsequent productions.