Part of Your World
Since November 17, 1989 The Little Mermaid and the song Part of Your World has been a favorite of children and adults. Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid is based on the Danish fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen.
While the original has a much more gruesome storyline and sadder ending, Disney spruced up the story with likable characters and memorable songs. The most memorable song is “Part of Your World”. Part of Your World was composed by Alan Menken and lyrics written by Howard Ashman for the Disney animated film The Little Mermaid.
Menken and Ashman both as small children were fascinated with music and Broadway, a liking nurtured by their family and friends.
Alan Menken was born July 22nd, 1949 in New York City, to a young aspiring actress and playwright, Judy Menken and piano-playing dentist, Norman Menken, DDS. He grew up in a home, filled with music and theater in New Rochelle, New York, along with his two sisters. Alan dreamed of becoming a composer for as long as he could remember.
Studying was Hard for Alan, even practicing piano was hard for him. Instead of learning pieces, he would learn the basic idea and “fake it”. His piano and violin teach encouraged this conduct and Alan began composing.
After graduating from New York University, Alan worked as a ballet and modern dance accompanist, a musical director for club acts, a jingle writer, arranger, a songwriter for Sesame Street, and a vocal coach. (According to the official Alan Menken website.) Then he met Howard Ashman…
Howard Elliott Ashman was born May 17, 1950 to Shirley and Raymond Ashman in Baltimore, Maryland. “His mother swears she chose his name because she thought it would be a good stage name,” said Sarah Ashman Gillespie Howards sister and author of Howards Bio on HowardAshman.com.
Howard loved theater, he directed backyard musicals, won talent shows, wrote stories and poems, and created publicity shots for shows he dreamed of directing. At age nine he joined the Children’s Theatre Association and stayed there as long as he lived in Baltimore. After moving to New York, Howard was hired by Grosset & Dunlap Publishers.
He produced one-act plays and wrote a book for Dreamstuff, Howard became the WPA Artistic Director of the theater, which quickly became known as a producer of distinctive off-off-Broadway theater. In 1978, Howard began working with composer Alan Menken.
Together Menken and Ashman worked on many productions such as, Little Shop of Horrors, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid. One of their most memorable collaborations being Part of your World from The Little Mermaid.
Howard had made a few requests for The Little Mermaid film, that the crab Sebastian should have a calypso lilt, and that Ariel is voiced by Jodi Benson of whom he had worked with before. Howard also believed that like in a Broadway production there needed to be a song where the protagonist sings about her goals and what she wants in life.
Due to a bad focus testing, the song was nearly cut from the film, but many of the crew argued that it should not be cut and it should be given another chance. After the second testing, the scene was further developed and received well by the testers. “Part of Your World” was applauded at a public screening of The Little Mermaid. Part of your world is written in the style of a Broadway musical number in the key of F major.
Benson a soprano sings one octave from the notes C4 to C5 through the entire song at a “moderately bright pace,” described Ashman. After successful stage adaptions of other popular Disney films, A Broadway version of The Little Mermaid was proposed. Francesca Zambello created an underwater wonderland on a dry stage. The storyline was changed slightly to fit the stage as well as new music added to the show and older songs extended. However, Under the Sea and Part of your World were left the same as in the film.
The Broadway production originally opens in 2007 in the United States with Sierra Boggess as the original Broadway version of Ariel. Productions of The Little Mermaid were opened all over the world including the Philippines, The Netherlands, Russia, Japan and Canada.
Currently Alan Menken is continuing to compose music and sadly Howard Ashman died in March 14, 1991, the contributions they put forth in music writing will be remembered by generations to come. Part of your World has become part of our hearts, a song known and loved all over the world along with the film it came from. Part of your World is a beautiful and classic “I want” song that will be remembered for decades.
“The Whole New World of Alan Menken – PROFILE – Biography.” The Whole New World of Alan Menken – PROFILE – Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
“Alan Menken.” Alan Menken Biography Comments. Alan Menken Studio, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
Gillespie, Sarah Ashman. “Part of His World.” Howard Ashman. Sarah Ashman Gillespie, 2010. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
“Part of Your World.” Disney Wiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
“The Little Mermaid (1989 Film).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
“Part of Your World.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 May 2016.
“The Little Mermaid (musical).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 May 2016.