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The Legacy of Howard Ashman: A Pioneer of Storytelling Through Music

NOTE: This article is 1 year old and may not include the most recent information.

Howard Ashman was a man with exceptional writing talents, and his illustrious career is a testament to that. He left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry with his keen sense of storytelling and lyricism that was well ahead of his time. Even though his life was tragically cut short by AIDS, his legacy and influence continue to inspire countless artists, writers, and storytellers across the world.

“Little Shop of Horrors” remains one of Howard Ashman’s most beloved works. It was a low-budget horror-comedy musical that premiered in 1982, featuring a talking flesh-eating plant. Ashman, along with composer Alan Menken, created catchy doo-wop-inspired songs that perfectly complemented the quirky tone of the show. Though initially overlooked by Broadway producers, the musical received critical acclaim when it was adapted for film in 1986. The movie version starred Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene and featured some of Ashman’s most memorable songs like “Skid Row (Downtown)”, “Somewhere That’s Green”, and “Suddenly, Seymour.” Ashman’s talent for lyrical storytelling was on full display here, making the show an audience favorite for generations to come.

Ashman’s initial success came with his first off-Broadway show, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater”. However, he went on to make significant contributions to the music and theater world with his innovative works, including his collaboration with composer Alan Menken on the music for the Disney animated films “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

His exceptional ability to craft lyrics was evident in the songs from these movies. People who watched these movies back then or have seen them recently could easily recite the lyrics of “Under the Sea,” “Be Our Guest,” or “Part of Your World” without any trouble. He had a way of using music to advance the story, allowing the audience to connect with the characters more deeply.

Many people don’t know that Ashman’s fingerprints are on other notable soundtracks, including the film “Oliver and Company.” However, it is his contributions to musical theater and animation for which he is best remembered. Ashman was a pioneer who changed the way we think about storytelling through music. His music has become a significant part of popular culture, and his work remains as timeless as ever.

His posthumous Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Beauty and the Beast” was well deserved recognition for a man whose contributions to the entertainment industry cannot be overstated. Ashman’s work continues to inspire countless other artists, and his songs continue to delight and move audiences to this day. The entertainment world wouldn’t be the same without Howard Ashman, and his legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations of writers and storytellers.

As Pride Month continues, there is no better time to celebrate Howard Ashman’s work and the legacy he left behind. Watching the Disney+ documentary Howard is the perfect tribute to this influential and talented storyteller, taking you on a journey through the visionary life of a true trailblazer. The film offers an intimate look into Ashman’s creative process, his influential collaborations with other artists, and his true impact on the entertainment industry. Howard’s story is a reminder that great art can emerge from adversity, and that the impact of our lives can be felt long after we are gone. Celebrate Pride Month by watching Howard and being inspired by Howard Ashman’s remarkable life and work.

Trevor Decker


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