Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast played its final performance on the road on July 19, 2016.

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Howard Ashman conceived, wrote and directed Little Shop of Horrors, based on Roger Corman’s 1960-era horror flick, with music by Alan Menken. Little Shop played for five years off-Broadway at the Orpheum Theater. The show continues to be produced to great acclaim in the U.S. as well as internationally. In 2003, Little Shop was revived on Broadway and in 2007 it was revived on the West End. It is currently one of the most produced shows in American High Schools. In 1986, Ashman wrote and directed the Broadway musical, Smile, music by Marvin Hamlisch. Little appreciated at the time, Smile is now considered a lost gem of musical theater and is performed by high school students around the U.S. Turning his talents toward film, Ashman was pivotal in the renaissance of Disney animated musicals and in the development of Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Producer and Lyrics), Beauty and the Beast (Executive Producer and Lyrics) and Aladdin (Lyrics), all with music by Alan Menken. Ashman’s contributions to the revival of classic Disney animated musicals were perhaps best expressed by the dedication to the film Beauty and the Beast: “To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul. He will be forever missed.” Ashman’s numerous awards include two Oscars, two Golden Globes, four Grammys, a Drama Desk and a London Evening Standard. He died in 1991 at age 40 from complications arising from AIDS. Ashman Sings Ashman, a CD of his work, with never-before-heard demos, including those from Smile, is available from PS Classics. Ashman’s papers are in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress.