The new documentary “Howard” profiles the life and work of Howard Ashman, the legendary lyricist whose music and words on stage and in Disney films helped inspire a golden age of stories and musicals.
And along with the first trailer for the documentary film which shows behind the scenes footage of Ashman working with the voice actors for “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” Disney has unveiled that “Howard” will debut on Disney+ on Aug. 7.
“As a lyricist, the last great place to do musicals is in animation,” Ashman says in a clip in the trailer. “We knew something really special was happening, but what we didn’t know is that in nine months, Howard would be gone,” one of his Disney colleagues adds.
“Howard” made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018 and features archival footage, personal films and photographs, as well as interviews with Ashman’s family and friends. The film looks at his creative drive and the process behind the music, and it spans his childhood in Baltimore, his formative years in New York and on Broadway and his untimely death from AIDS.
“You may not know his name, but you sure know Howard Ashman’s music,” director, writer and producer of the film Don Hahn (“Beauty and the Beast”) said in a statement. “He’s one of the greatest storytellers of the twentieth century who helped to revitalize the American musical and re-energize Disney Animation. He left us a songbook that still lives on in us today, yet his personal story has never been fully told until now.”
Ashman’s musical collaborator Alan Menken also appears in the film and scored the documentary, as do Bill Lauch (Ashman’s Partner), Jodi Benson (“The Little Mermaid”), Paige O’Hara (“Beauty and the Beast”), Sarah Gillespie (Ashman’s sister), and more.
Hahn and Lori Korngiebel at Stone Circle Pictures produced the documentary. Check out the first trailer for “Howard” above.