Howard Ashman grew up in an average Jewish family in Baltimore with an extraordinary love for musical theater. After college, he opened a theater in a derelict section of New York and struggled to put on shows, until his adaptation of Roger Corman’s film LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS becomes a huge Off-Off- Broadway hit and catapults him into the limelight. Finally on Broadway, he collaborates with the Oscar- and Tony-winner Marvin Hamlisch to create the ultimately disappointing Smile. Embarrassed, Howard fled to Los Angeles and took up with a struggling gang of artists in a warehouse—Disney animators who had just been kicked off the studio lot until they could prove themselves. Along with Alan Menken, Howard writes the Oscar winning songs for THE LITTLE MERMAID. While the film becomes a global phenomenon, Howard is diagnosed with HIV—which he kept a secret in an era when AIDS is a death sentence and gay men are at the margins of society. After creating the initial songs for ALADDIN, Howard’s health deteriorated and he wrote the lyrics to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST from his hospital. Howard died before he was able to see his final Disney films release, but the legacy of his work lives on in Broadway productions and live action remakes for a new generation.
Preceded by BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at 1:30pm