BWW Review: Alan Menken's One-Man Show at BYU is Monumental

BWW Review: Alan Menken's One-Man Show at BYU is Monumental

Living legend Alan Menken performed his engaging, monumental one-man show, A WHOLE NEW WORLD OF Alan Menken at Brigham Young University as part of its BRAVO! season on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 and performs again Thursday, March 8.

The eight-time Oscar, 11-time Grammy, and Tony winner is known for his iconic Disney scores, such as THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and ALADDIN, all of which he adapted for the Broadway stage.

It is virtually impossible for a fan of Menken and his music to be disappointed by the concert, as he performed portions of songs from nearly every film or musical he is known for, as well as obscure, more personal pieces. From GOD BLESS YOU, MR. ROSEWATER and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS to POCAHONTAS and HERCULES to ENCHANTED and TANGLED, he provided a birds-eye view of his unmatched career.

As the composer, he found uncanny ways to condense each song to the essentials without feeling incomplete, presenting medley upon medley of so many of his memorable songs it was impossible to count. By the end of the glorious two-hour running time, it truly felt almost as if he had sung through his entire catalog. Of course, that was impossible, but every important stop was made with care.

What a treat to hear him tackle songs from not just his films but also his lesser known Broadway scores, such as the ravishing "Her Voice" from the THE LITTLE MERMAID. Fans were especially vocally excited by songs from recent musical television series GALAVANT and the film and Broadway versions of NEWSIES.

Not only did he play each of the innumerable songs by memory, he also sang with raw emotion and much stronger vocal skills than his demos might suggest. Musically, this was a very well performed show. The highlight was a powerful medley of "Someday" and "Out There" from THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME that left the room in awe.

Menken regaled the audience with stories behind the songs, leaving them wishing for more. He also shared rare photographs and recordings, along with wonderful visual representations of his projects in the form of poster art and still photographs.

The only misstep was the order of the final numbers. Menken ended with a meaningful song he wrote for Tokyo DisneySea that summed up the evening perfectly, along with a collage projection of the posters of his many projects (including two that he hadn't covered yet). When he came out for his deserved encore, he continued the story of his career with beautiful pieces from those two: the Broadway production of ALADDIN and the live-action film version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. While these songs were welcome and necessary to complete the story, it felt like the rest of the show that hadn't been finished rather than an encore. It would have made more sense and been more fulfilling had he completed the show with them and then returned for the encore with the Tokyo DisneySea song and the collage encapsulating all the elements of his career.

But, of course, this blip matters little in the grand scheme of things. Alan Menken has created and performed a masterful review of his incredible life's work, and nothing less could be expected from such a genius of song and story.

Special thanks to BRAVO for making the unforgettable evening possible and for continuing to bring titans of the stage and screen to Utah. For more information about future BRAVO! performances at BYU and to buy tickets, visit arts.byu.edu.

Photo Credit: Alan Menken

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