About Howard E. Ashman
Howard Ashman graduated from Goddard College in Vermont and received an MFA from IU in 1974, where he was a student of Richard Moody, professor emeritus of theatre and drama. Ashman was a founder and artistic director of the iconic off Broadway Theater, the WPA, where he conceived, wrote, and directed a musical adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater with music by Alan Menken.
In 1982, Ashman conceived, wrote, and directed Little Shop of Horrors, again with music by Menken. The musical, based upon Roger Corman's 1960s-era horror flick was immediately successful. It soon became a New York "must see," playing for five years off-Broadway at the Orpheum Theater in lower Manhattan. The show played Los Angeles and London's West End, Japan, Scandinavia, and Europe, and continues to be produced to great acclaim around the world. In 2003, Little Shop was revived on Broadway, and in 2007, it was revived on London's West End. It is currently one of the most-produced shows in American high schools.
Turning his talents toward film, Ashman was pivotal in the renaissance of Disney animated musicals and in the development of The Little Mermaid (producer and lyrics), Beauty and the Beast (executive producer and lyrics) and Aladdin (lyrics), all with music by Menken.
During his short career, Ashman received two Oscars for Music (Original Song) for "Under the Sea" (1989) and for "Beauty and the Beast" (1992); two Golden Globes for Best Original Song for "Under the Sea" (1990) and for "Beauty and the Beast" (1992); four Grammys for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture for "Under the Sea" (1991), Best Recording for Children for "The Little Mermaid" (1991), Best Song Written for a Motion Picture for "Beauty and the Beast" (1993), and Best Album for Children for "Beauty and the Beast" (1993); one Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics (1983); and one London Evening Standard Award for Best Musical for Little Shop of Horrors (1983). Ashman died in 1991, at age 40, shortly before the release of Beauty and the Beast.