Friday, May 17, 2013

Remembering Howard Ashman

Today would have been the 63rd birthday of the late writer, lyricist and director Howard Ashman. With composer Alan Menken, Ashman wrote the great songs of Disney's animation renaissance during the 1980s and 90s: "Part of Your World" and "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid; "Be Our Guest" and "Belle" from Beauty and the Beast; "Friend Like Me" and "Prince Ali" from Aladdin--among so many others.

Ashman had a passion for musical theater and a gift for clever wordplay that coalesced brilliantly during his time at Disney. In this clip from the 2009 documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, we see Ashman in action, coaching Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel, through a recording of "Part of Your World." He goes on to explain why that song and others like it are critical in theater and film to make audiences "fall in love" with the leading lady.

With Menken, Ashman won two Academy Awards for "Under the Sea" and "Beauty and the Beast." In 1991, Ashman died far too young at the age of 40 from complications arising from AIDS. Both he and Menken were named Disney Legends in 2001.

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ashman's sister, Sarah Ashman Gillespie, about her brother's life and legacy. Sarah manages the website Part of His World, a labor-of-love tribute to Howard, full of history and fond remembrances from Sarah and some of the people who knew and worked with Howard, including Alan Menken, Jodi Benson and John Musker. I'll post part one of my conversation with Sarah this weekend in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Happy Birthday, Howard.  You are missed.

No comments:

Post a Comment