Alan Menken reflects on Tony Award win
New Rochelle native Alan Menken has won eight Academy Awards for his musical contributions to Disney films, but on Sunday night, the northern Westchester County resident finally took home a Tony Award for scoring the Broadway hit "Newsies."
On Monday, Menken called the victory a relief, in part because it represents the end of a long awards season full of luncheons, meetings, interviews and events, as well as a return to composing songs for new projects at his home office in northern Westchester County.
"And, obviously, this is my first Tony Award, so I'm really thrilled that I finally won one," added Menken, 62.
Menken has collected more Oscars than any other living person, but before "Newsies," his Tony honors were limited to nominations for Best Original Score for "Beauty and the Beast" in 1994, "The Little Mermaid" in 2008 and "Sister Act" in 2011.
He said his daughters, Anna and Nora, were convinced "Newsies" would be the production that would yield the elusive award. "They said, 'Oh, Dad, this is going to be the one,' and I said, 'Yeah, honey, right. That's not going to happen,'" Menken added with a laugh. "But, lo and behold!"
Menken also scored the 1992 movie "Newsies," on which the musical is based. During Sunday night's acceptance speech, he referenced his Razzie Award for Worst Original Song for a tune he wrote for that movie. The song, "High Times, Hard Times," was cut from the Broadway show, but, on Monday Menken said he keeps the whole thing in perspective.
"I always found the Razzie to be sort of a badge of honor, quite frankly," he added. "I found out that I won the Razzie backstage at the  Oscars, after I'd won my second Oscar for 'Beauty and the Beast.' I almost took it almost like a joke, like, 'Let's humble Alan Menken a little bit.' ... I think it's fine, but it is interesting to see something that's famous for being ridiculed and not successful become something that's famous for being popular."
Menken said that as he walked off the stage after his acceptance speech, he shared high-fives with cast members of the show "Once," which was the evening's big winner with eight awards. But as the composer of the score for Broadway's "Leap of Faith," he also felt for the cast and crew of the Tony-nominated musical that closed May 13.
"I really would have loved to have said more [in my acceptance speech] about how proud I was of the 'Leap of Faith' cast coming and doing their performance last night," he said. "I'm sure it was both thrilling and difficult for them to get out there and do that, knowing the show died so prematurely. It was a unique musical; it needed support. It didn't really get support, but I really feel for the cast, and I love them. So it was definitely a night of mixed feelings."
With his newest hardware to go with his eight Oscars and 11 Grammy Awards, Menken laughed while saying he's "not really" trying to join the unofficial EGOT club, whose members have won at least one Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award for television, music, movies and theater, respectively.
"Television is on my radar for other reasons, because it probably is the most popular medium right now as far as what people will see," he added. "Many of us have tried to develop musical TV series and things like that, so it's always been of interest to me, but as a lifestyle choice, it's a difficult one. I'm not sure how I'd have an opportunity to win an Emmy, but if it does happen, that's cool."
Not bad for a guy who considered himself "kind of a nerd" when he was concertmaster and president of the chess club at New Rochelle High School before embracing his love of musical theater at New York University.
Academy Award winner Christian Bale, best known for his portrayal of Batman in the "Dark Knight" movie trilogy, got his cinematic break as a singing and dancing paperboy in the movie version of "Newsies." So, could Menken's shiny new trophy inspire the Caped Crusader to do a limited run on the Great White Way?
"You never know," he said. "I saw Christian at the Oscars a couple of years ago, and he couldn't have been sweeter or nicer about remembering 'Newsies.'"