Alan Menken

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Work

Aladdin (Cinema)

A street-smart young thief in the mythical city of Agrabah, meets and falls in love with the Sultan’s beautiful daughter, Jasmine, a liberated young lady who seeks to escape her present, repressed lifestyle. Help comes when the evil vizier, Jafar, connives to get a magic lamp for his own ascension and decides he needs Aladdin, a true “diamond in the rough,” to retrieve the lamp from the Cave of Wonders. Aladdin and his sidekick, the monkey Abu, retrieve the lamp and the wisecracking Genie inside for themselves. The Genie changes Aladdin into a prince so he can woo the princess, but the deception fails to impress Jasmine. As his true self, however, he uses his cunning and courage with the help of the Genie, to defeat Jafar and his evil plans, in the end earning a princely title as well as the love of the princess.

 

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Animator’s concept of Jafar.

Early animation concept.

Alan and Tim Rice discussing playbacks.

“A Whole New World”

Alan's Thoughts

Along with “The Little Mermaid”, “Aladdin” was started right at the beginning of my relationship with Disney animation. Howard Ashman and I wrote an entire version of the score that was shelved and put back into development. When it re-emerged, only two of those songs remained; “Friend Like Me” and “Arabian Nights”. “Prince Ali” came shortly before Howard’s passing. And, after a brief flirtation with writing the lyrics myself (“You Can Count On Me”) I began a new collaboration with Tim Rice, which resulted in “One Jump Ahead” and “A Whole New World”. With me also having to assume the role of music producer alone, the film of “Aladdin” was a huge growth experience for me.