When discussing the greatest playwrights of all time, one name that is often overlooked is Howard Ashman. Ashman was a man of incredible talent and breadth, achieving success in both the theatre and film industry. From Little Shop of Horrors to The Little Mermaid, he has created a lasting legacy through his work. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the life and legacy of Howard Ashman, exploring how he made an impact on the industry and why his work continues to inspire artists today.
Howard Ashman was born on May 17th, 1950, in Baltimore, Maryland. From an early age, he showed an interest in theatre, and by his early twenties, he had completed his undergraduate studies and was pursuing a career in the arts. Ashman began honing his skills as a playwright and lyricist in New York City, where he joined forces with a fellow playwright named Alan Menken. Together, they premiered their first musical, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, in 1979.
After the success of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Ashman and Menken teamed up again to create Little Shop of Horrors, a musical comedy that opened on Broadway in 1982. The play was a smash hit and earned Ashman critical acclaim for his clever and inventive lyrics. Following its success, Ashman and Menken were asked to create the score for Walt Disney’s newest animation project, The Little Mermaid. The partnership went on to secure an Academy Award for Best Original Score and Best Song.
Sadly, Howard Ashman’s life was cut short due to his battle with HIV/AIDS. He passed away on March 14th, 1991, at the young age of 40. However, his legacy continues to inspire artists and entertain audiences. His work lived on after him, with Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin both being produced posthumously. In 1992, Ashman was posthumously awarded the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Beauty and the Beast.”
Impact in the Industry:
Howard Ashman’s impact on the industry was immeasurable. His influence on both the theatre and film industry can still be felt today, more than two decades after his passing. Ashman helped revolutionize the perception of animation as a genre that was strictly for children, and his ability to craft well-crafted musical narratives earned him critical acclaim and the adoration of audiences around the world.
Howard Ashman’s life and contributions to the arts was remarkable. His unwavering passion for theater and film, coupled with his creative genius, inspired a generation of artists to push the envelope creatively and to celebrate the power of musical storytelling. Ashman’s legacy continues to inspire artists and entertain audiences, and his work will undoubtedly continue to influence the industry for generations to come.