One of the greatest composers of our time, ushering in the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s with Beauty and the Beast, Alan Menken is a genius. That’s a no-brainer. Beyond other animated greats like Pocahontas, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, Menken has also composed the music for the live-action, movie-musicals Newsies and Little Shop of Horrors. Who knew that ‘Carrying the Banner’ could be such a fine life? (Definitely not paperboys of the 1900’s.) “Get your papes!” Today, however, I’d like to toast Menken’s most recent success, his newest addition to Beauty and the Beast’s repertoire, “Evermore.”
Performed by actor Dan Stevens, the Beast, “Evermore” finally gives the Beast an opportunity to convey his feelings of love and admiration for Belle. Versus the original film, the 2017 production delves more deeply into the Beast’s emotional state. He is less, literally, one-dimensional. “Evermore” gives the Beast an opportunity to convey regret for his beastly, human self, as well as to mourn the sacrifices he has made for Belle. (I won’t spoil what those sacrifices are. Although, if you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you’re somewhat familiar with the plot. It has been around for over 20 years…)
Tonally, “Evermore” reminds me of many of Les Miserables’s most poignant ballads. There’s something Eponine-esque about the Beast’s pain. He sings, “Wasting in my lonely tower/Waiting by an open door/I’ll fool myself she’ll walk right in/And as the long, long nights begin/I’ll think of all that might have been/Waiting here for evermore!” Similarly, in “On My Own,” Eponine sings, “And I know it’s only in my mind/That I’m talking to myself and not to him/And although I know that he is blind/Still I say, there’s a way for us.” Oy. Heavy stuff. Maybe they should get together? What a musical THAT would be.
I have this feeling that, as a child, I would have loathed “Evermore.” I was always confused by my Mother’s affection for “What I Did for Love” (A Chorus Line) and “I’m Not That Girl” (Wicked). Why did she love the sad songs? What about “I Can Do That” and “Popular?” Aren’t those the better songs? The happier songs?
Now, I get it more. I’ve had (some of) the life experiences to allow me to sympathize with the Beast, Eponine, Diana and Elphaba. I’m not going to play “Evermore” to pump me up for a night out, but sometimes, when you need that depth, that emotion, you just need it. Give “Evermore” a listen, and go see Beauty and the Beast!