Howard was released on Disney+ on August 7th, 2020. For any fan of Disney, this film is a must watch.
The film opens, in the recording studio of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast with Howard Ashman and the cast recording the soundtrack. His passion for music, storytelling, and directing are evident in the footage.
From there, Sarah Ashman Gillespie (Howard’s sister) candidly talks about how some of her most fond memories of Howard, were of the world’s he created.
The film portrays Howard as a true creative at heart, who understood his purpose in life was storytelling through music. Like most creative personalities, Howard was both confident and self-conscious, seeing his vision crystal clear, yet struggling to make it happen. He was stubborn, yet passionate and in many cases, it’s that combination that innovators and visionaries are made of.
Howard founded the off-broadway company WPA, which years later, which impressed Jeffrey Katzenburg, who years later, would beg Howard to work with him at the Walt Disney Studios. Howard eventually said yes and brought his friend and fellow composer Alan Menken on board for a little project called The Little Mermaid.
Alan Menken, Jodi Benson, Glen Keane, Ron Clements, John Musker, Roy Disney, and Jeffrey Katzenburg in the documentary talk about their experiences working with Howard on The Little Mermaid. Howard at the time of film’s production had learned that he had AIDS, yet continued to work in spite of that. He had worked on two other Walt Disney Studio films prior to his death in 1991 that included Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.
For any fan of Disney or of The Little Mermaid, Howard is a must-watch. It explores the life, struggles, career, and untimely death of a man who changed the Walt Disney Studios and musical theatre forever.
Thank you Howard for giving a mermaid her voice and a Beast his soul. We you and will remember you for your contribution to musical theatre and Disney.
The songs in The Little Mermaid were written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman and forever changed the Walt Disney Company and it’s contribution to music.
Alan Menken revolutionized Disney and the Disney musical by using the musical theater format in storytelling. They did this, by using storytelling techniques, typically used in musical theater and giving them a Disney twist.
Alan Menken and Howard Ashman as a team, wrote and composed all the songs for The Little Mermaid, staying true to their musical theater roots. Ariel’s iconic song of Part of Your World. Howard Ashman famously referred to this song as the “want song” and it is.
During Part of Your World, we learn about Ariel’s hopes and dreams of exploring land and asking humans questions about the human world.
Growing up in the 90s, the music in The Little Mermaid was a pivotal point in our childhood. Singing along to the soundtrack on cassette and watching the movie on VHS.
As children, we lived and breathed the soundtrack, knowing every song word for word from memory. We didn’t just listen to the music, we absorbed it and lived it every time we sang the memorable lyrics.
The music of The Little Mermaid has a voice that is completely it’s own and there is nothing like it.
And we can all thank Alan Menken and Howard Ashman for that! Thank you Alan, for making us Part of Your world!
For those who truly know me, know that Sierra Boggess has been an inspiration of mine since 2008. That year, Sierra originated the role as Ariel and made her Broadway debut in Disney’s stage musical adaption of The Little Mermaid.
Something in my heart, knew that my life would change forever when I purchased the soundtrack (compact disc) at Border’s Bookstore. And it did. The soundtrack changed my life and to this day, it’s always on repeat. But more importantly, Sierra’s message of:
You are Enough.
You are so Enough.
It’s Unbelievable how Enough You are!
Sierra and her voice, has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams, when I had many telling me I couldn’t or I wasn’t good enough. Whenever I listen to her sing Part of Your World or If Only (Quartet), I’m reminded that our dreams are worth striving for, regardless of what others say and that making sacrifices is part of that journey.
I personally use my Light Lessons by Sierra Boggess as motivation and inspiration daily. Sierra’s Light Lesson’s are daily reminders that you can change the world with kindness and gratitude practice. That we can all lift each other up, by showing the world, our best selves and recognizing our enoughness!
So how did Sierra Boggess land the iconic role of Ariel on Broadway?
In 2006, Sierra went to New York to audition for a new production of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical The Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas. Before she had boarded her flight, Sierra got a call that she had landed the role of Christine. It was a role of a lifetime!
As an alternate Christine, she would perform alongside Brent Barrett and Anthony Crivello as her Phantom’s. This production was directed by Hal Prince. The show opened on June 24th, 2006.
Sierra dazzled the Las Vegas stage as Christine, embodying the character’s innocence, empathy, and strength, unlike any other actress before her.
In October 2006, Sierra returned to New York to audition for Disney’s new musical The Little Mermaid for the role of Ariel. The musical would be based off of Disney’s animated film version of The Little Mermaid. Sierra unfortunately, didn’t receive a call-back for the audition, so she returned to Las Vegas, and continued to play Christine in The Phantom of the Opera.
While she was attending a yoga class in January 2007, Sierra received a call from her agent telling her to “fly to NYC in three days for a final callback for The Little Mermaid. “And that is how she got the iconic role of Ariel on Broadway!
On November 3rd, 2007 the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in NYC, Sierra Boggess made her Broadway debut as Ariel! The official opening night for the production of The Little Mermaid was January 10th, 2008.
As a fan of Sierra’s, since her Broadway debut, I don’t think she understood the impact, she would later have on musical theater and on the lives of many. I have fond memories of watching Sierra sing Part of Your World on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Tony Awards, and so many other TV programs, desperately wishing I could someday see her perform live.
Sierra received nominations from Drama Desk and Drama League and won the Broadway.com Favorite Breakthrough Performance for her role as Ariel!
Thank you Sierra Boggess, for inspiring so many and to embrace who they are! You are a true inspiration and incredible performer! And remember…You are Enough. You are so Enough. It’s unbelievable how Enough You Are!