When songwriters Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz began work on Disney’s animated Pocahontas, they needed someone to demo the songs as part of their pitch for Disney to make the film. That someone was Broadway’s Judy Kuhn.
Kuhn had long-established herself as a voice to be reckoned with—from her Broadway debut in The Mystery of Edwin Drood to Schwartz’s Rags to Menken’s King David and, of course, as Broadway’s original Cosette in Les Misérables.
Menken and Schwartz’s score went on to win at the Academy Awards, as did their original song “Colors of the Wind.”
“‘Colors of the Wind’ is really the heart of the movie, in a way,” Kuhn tells Playbill. “Initially, Alan and Stephen had only written that song and Disney hadn’t decided that they were doing the movie yet.”
Kuhn and her fellow Disney leading ladies—Jodi Benson, Paige O’Hara, Lillias White, and Donna Murphy—gathered to go behind the music with Menken as they filmed a bonus special “Alan Menken and His Leading Ladies” for the 30th anniversary celebration of the The Little Mermaid and the film’s release into the Walt Disney Signature Collection.
WATCH: DISNEY’S PAIGE O’HARA ON FINDING HER BELLE VOICE FOR THE ORIGINAL BEAUTY AND THE BEAST