One of the most prolific and talented musicians in film and theater, composer Alan Menken co-wrote the captivating songs for a string of blockbuster Disney animated films, including "The Little Mermaid" (1989), "Beauty and the Beast" (1991) and "Aladdin" (1992), among many others. Menken had a hand in restoring life to two entertainment institutions that had long fallen out of favor with contemporary audiences, simply by merging Broadway show tune sensibilities with the magic of animation. Starting in theater with their surprise 1982 musical smash "Little Shop of Horrors," Menken and early collaborator Howard Ashman were called upon by Walt Disney Studios to help turn their ailing animation department around. Heavily influencing story and tone as well as music, Menken and Ashman were an unstoppable force, with musical numbers like "Under the Sea," "Be Our Guest" and "Beauty and The Beast," winning Academy Awards as well as the hearts of a generation of young movieg rs, enchanted with tales of undersea love, misunderstood beasts and flying carpets. After Ashman's tragic death, Menken worked with lyricist Tim Rice for Disney's "Pocahontas" (1995) and "Hercules" (1997), among others, and mounted several stage productions based on animated hits as well. Along the way, he set Oscar records with eight wins, taking the stage more than any composer since Alfred Newman. With "Enchanted," (2007) a modern-day fairy tale combining animation and live action, it was a return to form for Menken and songwriter Steven Schwartz, earning nominations for three original songs which evoked the magic and wonder of his now classic Disney musical numbers from nearly two decades before.