Interview with Executive Producer Don Hahn from ‘Howard‘ and ‘Beauty and the Beast‘. Recently, we got to sit down (virtually) with Disney Executive Producer, Don Hahn, to discuss his film ‘Howard‘, now on Disney+. Howard follows the untold story of Howard Ashman, the brilliant lyricist behind Disney classics like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast (1991), The Little Mermaid and creator of musicals including Little Shop of Horrors, whose unparalleled career and vibrant life were cut short by the AIDS epidemic at only 39 years old.
“I set out to let Howard tell his own story…maybe it was my way to bring him back and share his genius. If you were making a film about one of the most gifted musical storytellers of the 20th Century, why wouldn’t you let him tell his own story,” shared Don in a statement regarding the film.
During the course of production Hahn had told Alan Menken (Composer and Howard’s principle production partner) that he was working on a documentary about Howard. When he was finally able to send Menken a ruff cut of the movie, Alan screened the film and called right back.
“He said, ‘Don, I have to score this movie.’” said Hahn. “I fell off my chair. Alan worked over the holidays and wrote one of the most personal and touching scores that I’ve heard from him.” Alan brought in their friend and fellow composer Chris Bacon to adapt his score to the film and the result is breathtaking.
Featured in the film are interviews with family, friends, and co-workers of Ashman, including: Shirley Ashman (Mother), Sara Ashman (Sister), Bill Lauch (Life Partner), Alan Menken (Composer, Production Partner), Jodi Benson (Ariel, The Little Mermaid), Paige O’Hara (Belle, Beauty and the Beast 1991), Nancy Parent (Friend), and many others who wanted to share their memories and time with Howard before his untimely death.
You can view our full interview with Executive Producer Don Hahn in the video featured below:
Thank-you, Don, for your time and for sharing this wonderful insight into the film and sharing Howard Ashman’s story with audiences around the world!
“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.”
Check out the trailer for Howard below and be sure to stream Howard any time on Disney+:
Be sure to check back here at Chip and Co. for all things Disney!
Featured Photo Credit: Disney+/Richard Chambers
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