An iconic composer looks back

ABC News' Andrea Dresdale chats with Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken about "Beauty and the Beast" and "Newsies."
23:57 | 02/14/17

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Transcript for An iconic composer looks back
Alan Mencken Disney composure winner of many many awards eight Oscars something like that anyway we're going to be talking about a lot of his current projects welcome mounts thank you. So let's about new disease for three days later this month you're going to be able to go to see this musical in a theater near you this. This is kinda like a full circle thing because it started as an. As a movie right started as a moving a major flop movie. And and then it's just dated for about Monica 25 years or so. I'm just lying there marinating but all this whole generation of kids like attaching themselves to it and loving it and and then is that it got to the point where does he theatrical since you know we got to put out some kind of version of this because. People would like to do this summit as did a version for stock and amateur really. And it was. In and number of steps better than stock and amateur. And it term move over to pick mill Playhouse and boom it was just the reaction was incredible and can Brooklyn. So why is now the time to sort of. Get old gang back together and reunited for this special theater presentation that was you know that that was the planning of disease theatrical and I don't you know that's a it was a marketing decision that I don't really know much about. And believe it or not I'm seeing the movie for the first time right if this had to do I have not actually seen. The film I've heard about it ever people love that. Premier actually it LA another film that no line. And hurt when great just so look toward the setting. Well let me eyes of those are challenges you know this started as a movie and it became a musical and now this is a film. Of the music of the musical yeah so if the state musical right and so in other words it's got that fueled a stage musicals like you're going to see it here it's not it the eighty try to immediately and now. Live action film it it is a. A movie of the stage musical has so he's been kind of one of your own most loved works I mean there's been so many things that you done but is is news used to settle replacing your heart. Our problem childhood. That became a star. Yeah I love doozies and it is. News he's with a project it was the first president I did really Howard actress actually still alive when it began it but he was too Elton through with. I teamed with Jack Feldman that idea. Actually he was also composer and lyricist toy known all the way back in the thick of the vehement musical theater workshop and Jack had written hustled Barry Manilow and and Jack and I wrote the the songs for the movie. And room. It was really excite the for so we wrote was carrying the banner and opening number and was. Exciting and and he you know was it a very heady time where Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin world. Other you know open or in production there was a lot of energy and and you know this is in and let's go ahead and make a live action movie this and it was impulsive. And Euro lot of wonderful things about it as young Christian Bale and hysterectomy Kenny Ortega. But inevitably it is just did not make it with the public they weren't really ready for that cut break into song musical. So it just you know became this our beloved. You know childhood. You know. Didn't make it by. Walk into a mall in their BA flash mob doing you know seize the day or. My kids can't if you look we've got to do news he's but is there a script and so. And so they would actually people would watch the movie and write down dialogue invent the road characters through their own version of daisies. And that's after couple years of quite a few years of that. That begin in became known to Disney that that was happening in this you know we really. Have a version can be done. What do you think is the reason I became mystical phenomena as you said it was a flop movies ODD have a second life on. On VHS or you know what it's just something family friendly his washed over and over as far as I can tell it was VHS tapes. It was on arm them. Cable a lot. I think it was used cute boys. And the dancing. I think there is this generation has grown up with a real hunger for musical theater. And they embrace that and people to really embraced uzis. And arming and a remember. It when news these first came out of that the night of the Oscars for beauty and the bees where he won two Oscars. Gunner to depress your hands if you'll throw one a grassy for worst song of the year. And that was for high times hard time which is has done in the broadway's when is certainly not the Warsaw revolt I'm. But they certainly you know the president lot of Federer expense. But you know it it generally it was a very beloved. Flop. And I think it's just eats it about how the public was ready for burst into song musical and here we are entry seventeen hollow and is poised to win everything at the Oscars absolutely. Absolutely things go in and cycles and some dogs it's the right time and sometimes it's the right tone and sometimes it's. Even knew really what they had with news he's at the time particularly. Remember after opened the first weekend of her and Jeffrey Katzenberg who was president of the three. But it didn't do anything. But that 20000000 and ten million dollars and throw up in the air he earned that he boulevard it would be just as much good. VOA. Now this one that's gonna come to tears this is the original cast everybody is yet. He rich mostly the original cast and there's a few that worked in the original company. But most of the original leads yes. So this is a chance for everybody decency on Broadway who continues to discovers the film. To rediscover it I'll yet again they have another iteration could come back in Europe are now. I've I've given up trying to predict what happened with news these. Or any project for that matter you just never know you really don't. It's. Musicals are are very ephemeral thing it's you know. That collects and you know that it doesn't make sense but it just works and sometimes you could pour your heart soul and all your talent and that's something that at. The work. Or does it work that we wanted to it's. An amazing four. Well let's talk about one that did that did it can be. This is now we want the North American for an April and it's been. Six productions on four continents. What is it about this one do you think will place a well in the world. Latin is well forceful its. The B movie was so popular to begin with. And I'm my big agenda when we came back to to doing a Latin for the stage was. A treasure trove of songs are written with Howard Ashman that didn't make it into the movie. There was a full Arabian nights there was with the local print of your boy it was. Back tackle Marlon can theme song cold high adventure. And had these songs let's just never been heard. And their apps of jams and I'm. By the book writer. And also look lyricist of the missiles Chad eglin was fantastic in working the adaptation. To be able to accommodate these these songs are wrote which meant accommodating. The sidekicks and whole sort of hope Crosby road picture kind of dynamic for the for the show. It's really entertaining it's really fun and then Europe of course Casey Nikola directing and I'm KC that a magic touch an amazing heart this guy has an amazing. Energy. And you get a youth team did not sure his shows from in a book of Mormon and and something rotten and and of course Aladdin and just infectious wonderful energy and agree production and it was really a joy to work on this one from the very for a second but when it first came to Broadway did you think it was a sure thing. No absolutely not I mean weld that I think mistress or Broadway. There's a long pass to brought there's there's workshops. And youth presentations and then as an out of town. But you know at that point the Disney brand Angeles. Oh yes but. But you're you're dealing with a big company as Disney company and and keep you know musicals are very expensive and no yup the nail biter is out of town where you you know it's you know I remember when Bob Iger came out of town to see the show and came to a Saturday matinee. And I think it was one of those baton as well unfortunately. There will like school kids there who were told U behaviors into a much noise independent adults are all it was a very tame crowd and remembered. Good meeting backstage and very nervous faces oh my god. What's gonna happen. We also before that we're at the feds have new theater in Seattle. You know every musical takes a lot of development and you have to. Make a lot of right moves. To bring in a musical that's going to genuinely appeal to an audience. And I'm and Aladdin does and but it is ticket pixel you know it takes the villages as a. Well let's talk about something else which is yet another iteration the live action Beauty and the Beast which is really fascinating you know it was animated film that it was a musical now it's a live action not yet but that it will be I think they've announced that. And I'm still we're still the very starting gate on that might be in the beast. Is it Gideon yeah. Sorry battle against me accurate records Atlanta like college the amiga did vote that beauty in the B I doubt yes well there's no there's been talk about. About the government coming being a film and landing a film and that being its sequel to enchanted. The amazing amount the company yes Beauty and the Beast who. I am what did you think about the idea when you first heard it we're gonna do live action version. I was excited. The same time nervous. IE. You know. Any time a property cup goes into new hands. The directors gonna have a huge amount of power in terms of you know what. How would its adapted how books where the cells grow what songs are we gonna keep a solid rocket McKee. And Anna and I have to deal with how much. Cannot be involved how much will they allow me to be involved how much do I bought a involved and it's a bill balance. You know it's every musical is not just about the material it's also about the all the artists who were involved and how. How to balance out and we had a great good fortune of having Bill Condon directing this movie and bill loves musicals bill. I'd written the book for Chicago and accident and what the book and directed the movie dream girls and eased wonderful guy and wonderful director and and therefore it was a very joyful process and we teamed with Tim Rice to write three new songs. Were you involved at all in the selection of John Legend and Ronde tootsie title theme no I'm thrilled I'm thrilled about that. We have yet to reels of fleeing the on record a song and and and Josh Groban according to song as well. But no that's not my hands them mending Mitchell we've been at this audience is going in the lead character on. Choosing them but what did you think that we hired Alan I love it it's. You know I keep my distance from the pop singles and I'm just the real that they happen. But it. I've been really blessed that all of the recordings have been done of the missiles or Britain have been. Very respectful in terms of respecting that the bones of what I have what I wrote and then. And then taking where if they wanted to get nightclub for that they can. Well how important is freedom of Celine Dion involved in this new project considering that you know that he did eating beast the original version was really her big breakthrough in the US yeah I love Celine Dion and I you know when she signed union if she was really you know. I'm and I met her and the met Renee. And I saw firsthand personal their relationship. And one of the things is this the song she's singing. Is a song that's so much up out. The memories and that we have of the of the people we love and so I think has special meaning to Celine because of the recent passing of Rene. So that was that was really meaningful and beautiful was it always kind of foregone conclusion that she was going to be part of the sound packer well no it it was actual week. We have you know we had to get you know player of the song and see if she if if it worked for her to do it now. There's very. And is this is this very few foregone conclusions. When you writing this on as as we need a song called Beauty and the Beast. Eisley you can go all different ways you can do and at a metaphor you can do metaphorically. You can do it about the actual singing we knew were. When you were writing original song. How did you decide which direction to take that. Well to begin with of course my late great collaborator Howard a freshman. Conceived a number good to be first bowl of course about. Their relationship and about the tail tale as old as time and and this is the simple message of of coming together of two hearts. And it was one of those songs from you know put some of the hardest thing to achieve its simplicity. And its owner to be utterly simple. Was also. Our assignment was for the first time. To have a song that there could be have a life outside of the movie or outside of Sharaud. We never had one from little shop. And we never had one from from Little Mermaid. So this was the first one. Let's do it specifically designed could be a pop it was designed to be able to be a pop single but it was written actually for mrs. Potts. For a very. You know if you remember what mrs. bridges from upstairs downstairs. That that was the cut very maternal older woman singing this is song and in fact we have that story when Angela Lansbury first heard the demo. They censor my pop demo and Angeles a vital interests for many. And resemble what went way right what's what did you play firms like yours of course as of don't know. It's what that Howard did you have to Wear Howard did the vocal and it was in the voice of mrs. Potts that's alike it. So giddy that he's really has two distinct lives one is is as. A song that's sung with in the movie. Room for a montage and it really. Shows the coming together Putin debate of the bell and of these. And then as the song as a pop in like the pot so now what about ever importance the growth record them. Ever more is this moment. In the movie where the beast has decided he's going to let they'll go to go back to her father. And he. Even though it means that the spell Mathieu broken. And as she leaves he's going up it hurts of the council which if you're going to that this that this he's he's watch a year ago singing about how. You know I know what love is now and and it's wonderful even though while never see her. And the choices grove in your view it here. Allowed escrow. Humans broadly his card partly I'm going there are. Angry. I'm so you sit there are their talks to bring all these movies back as life there's a lot of talks about things than you know. You know in Hollywood and figure green lit. And talk is cheap. But as yet as there's a real appetite for musicals right now and which is which is great. And you know for me. I would in a way I kind of prefer to be doing new musicals besides you know the expanding on the old ones but. These are my babies and it if they're gonna have an adult life I wanna be either. God is or what and you particularly would like to see green lighted. Besides the ones that mention. I'm excited about all of these I'm excited that a sequel to enchanted. I'm I was gonna ask you if you wanted you would you like C emea and singing and I guess. And she'd like to or from what I understand some really would like him would love see that happen. We just brought hunchback of notre down to the stage of really good production. And its that's also open door and the world. You know all of these. Disney project that are done. I would love to see. You know I love when they have new lives and then. It's a thrilling when that happens but in an despite every case. I'm not the one who will. BV the instigator of that happening though responses. Do you wanna do resort is an opportunity news and OK let's let's see what's there. Hmmm I want to get your thoughts on another Disney song not written by you but up for an Oscar this year were written by Lynn men around. Even wanna song he's what if it's always wonderful and he's wonderful. Of course you know he's a writer of Hamilton as everyone knows and and before that I'm in the heights. And I had known when when he was a kid. Actually through my sister because he went to hunt the hunter schools in new York and went to school with my knees. Remember signing some little posters for Lynn when he was a kid. Com and I'd hear about his talent and then. Here it is. So what is the aide speaking as someone who's who's won this a couple times. What is the academy look for in a best original song do you think that how far all go hasn't shot. Of course it as a show. Especially because as you know just to sought to La La land it millions of splitting the vote. It's but academy looks for is as. A clear sign that the songs specifically. Written for a moment in the film that it's not just somebody. For the taking a slogan of the trunk and putting it into or writing a song thinking I wanted to have a radio life but it will be in the movie they. I think they look for integrity. Arm and they also look at the outer package as well if the movie itself. Is a hit that really helps the song to be recognized. There's a lot of intangibles is there's certainly a lot of internal politics that happened that it's kind of like you. You don't want to know what goes to the sausage. Exactly. Well now Allen is also going to be doing the it's almost Mary Poppins is that I don't know he's acting and merry. I actually marks and threatened my Scott Wittman right here Robbins. Lin is going to be actually collaborated with Ian on some missiles for the for the army to move the permit the live action movie Little Mermaid so my goodness this must be real mind blower for him this is you knew him as a little kid he gave you is not a writing it. Now it's great you know we. We actually tried working on something for years ago problems for him than. He's very talented and really really good. I'm and you know what it will be and think this cubicle average review. I think it's kinda cool that you know he. Need his name writing something that was considered to be CO NG and still on below pushing but now he's writing but he can also do songs for Disney. Off I think she is the breakfast town absolutely absolutely he's. You know. All of us who work at any of these mediums. Into the barometer of what's going to be good is this how much you love it as a writer. You know in the best directors or Pete or comedy directors of people who like to. That's right it's it's all to people who loved songs. I am not only to write them but to hear them. Tom and Lynn is a huge fan of the form. And them. You know it's it's the greatest blessing for all of us has riders to have all their diverse opportunities. Styles of writing. And if he wins have that he you'll have the need and the needy in UR's got everything. Right happened at an honorary enemies of the Atlantic and eat okay. Again that's you. Look I think. Our world if element thing. Dot was such a buy Asia early. I can't imagine it kind of work went into every episode the packet with episodic TV 63. I think 63 sort of rates in episodes it's incredible announcement details. Well I am. Tell me some of the other projects here about how did you have a lot on your plate have a broad scale Bronx tale is is an. Is right now you know running. At the long acre theater and doing really well. Who. And done I'm heading to girl back in Berlin were going to be opening. Up a hunchback in in Berlin. This talk about actually bringing back a Christmas Carol at Christmas Carol that demands square garden for ten years going back that for this holiday season. We just had to cast album for Howard Asheville in my very first musical court opposite mr. rose Porter. As well as a chasm for musical called the producer of that he Kravitz that Guinea's or older works but I net you know I never let go of those older works. That's really important it's in a sort of you're my legacy. I'm. And enable these movies coming up as well. Uses it as a musical at universal. That have been developing. And there's talk but he also and another bill Sutton of cars movie at you at Warner Bros. I'm Tim cause I hear about these things. Actually on the news like everybody else and and eco Tuesday what's going. Ours movie what you want the ending to the light show or to be like oh there's but. You know originally as you know oh lead in the in the original movie we did the the the authentic and the or orchards it was like eating subway trains and eating skyscrapers and an audience it's not quite ready for that. Even starting with you know. For Audrey getting eaten and see Morgan and you know it. Should be. And the brilliant turnaround that Howard Ashman was able to do on on that movie. You know our Brooke the book four's well. For the movie with it was just amazing how in short order. That happy ending was was tagged on but my hope would be reduced the authentic and from which.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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