Saturday, June 17, 2017

Thanks to Disney D23 ~ An Evening With Alan Menken

As I've mentioned (perhaps too often), in previous articles, my lifelong love of all things Disney pointed me toward my enjoyment of helping folks discover Disney in ways beyond just enjoying a theme park experience. I'm so grateful to Disney's official fan club, D23, for allowing me to learn and experience so much, and am happy to be able to pass some of those experiences along.

Alan Menken. Even a casual Disney fan probably knows the name. Alan is instrumental in the sounds of so many of the modern era classics, that imagining these films and Broadway productions without his touch is just unimaginable. So when the opportunity to see a concert by Mr. Menken was offered by Disney D23, I knew it was not to be missed.
But Alan Menken and his early and long time collaborator, Howard Ashman, didn't start out by writing Disney classics. No, let's go back a bit. Back to that campy classic, "Little Shop Of Horrors", first a stage show and then the film, starring Rick Moranis. Menken & Ashman were on their way.
There was a detour along that path, with Howard Ashman working with Marvin Hamlisch on a play titled "Smile". In a wink fate, that play included a song called "Disneyland", which we were treated to hearing performed for perhaps the first time since 1987.
Then along came Disney and the amazing revitalization Disney animation. The Little Mermaid. It seems so common now, but that film was a new beginning and Ashman & Menken were instrumental in ushering the sound of the classics of animation, with their songs and musical scores.
And then came Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. During this time Mr. Menken and the world suffered the crushing loss of Howard Ashman to AIDS.  His tragically early passing leave all to wonder 'what if'.
 You may have heard of a little film called "Newsies", an ambitious musical about the Newsboy strike of 1899. Although it was considered a flop by some, the film had a large cult following (myself included in that cult), and starred a young singing and dancing Christian Bale. Good taste finally prevailed and the movie was turned into a successful Broadway production of the same name.
Pretty much that entire era of Disney animation has the Menken name included, both in the classic films and the wonderfully done stage adaptations.
Although Alan Menken is known for Disney, his works are certainly not only Disney. A collaboration with Tim Rice brought 'King David", and Mr. Menken is also know for his work on the stage adaptation of "Sister Act" to name just a couple.

Back at Disney, you've heard his work in "Captain America: The First Avenger" and of course,"Galavant", plus so much more. I can't wait to hear what's next.

Learning the back stories and histories of beloved Disney memoires just makes the experiences all the richer. Thank you D23 for bringing the fans behind the magic.

If you'd like to learn more about Alan Menken, and who wouldn't, please read the slightly outdated but still fascinating biography at












Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tony's Town Square Restaurant Recipe ~ Fettucine & Meatballs ~ Walt Disney World

What says comfort food better than spaghetti and meatballs? Make this recipe for comfort food with a touch of Disney thrown in.

1 1/2 pound fettucine (fresh or dried)
Tony's house sauce recipe
Tony's Italian meatballs.

Yep! Sauce from scratch.
Tony's House Sauce
1 celery stalk, diced (2/3 cup)
1 small onion, diced (1 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces tomato paste
10 3/4 ounces tomato puree
2 28-ounce can tomatoes, whole, cut in half with juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried sweet basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 bay leaves
1/4 cup sugar
Dash dried thyme, chili powder, dried rosemary & Spanish paprika

In a large pot, sauté celery, onion and garlic in olive oil. Add all other ingredients.
Remember to use juice from both cans of tomatoes. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Taste and correct seasoning, if desired.
Tony's Italian Meatballs
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
1/4 cup onions, minced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, granulated
2 teaspoons parsley flakes, dried
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoons basil leaves
Heat over to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients and mix thoroughly. Refigerate for 4 hours before making into meatballs
Prepare meatballs about the size of golf balls and place on a cookie sheet side by side. Cook in over 15-20 minutes, or until firm to touch.
To serve, cook fettucine and drain. Top with Tony's house sauce and Tony's Italian meatballs.