Howard Ashman and Alan Menken

By Catherine Lewis

Howard Ashman History

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Howard Ashman was born May 17, 1950 in Baltimore, Maryland, and died from AIDS on March 14, 1991. Ashman first studied at Boston University and Goddard College then went on to receive his Master's Degree from Indiana University in 1974. After he graduated he spent two years in the Peace Corp in Burkina Faso. When he came back he became the artistic director of the WPA Theater in New York. His first two plays, Cause Maggie's Afraid of the Dark and Dreamstuff, were met with mixed reviews. His play The Confirmation was produced in 1977 at Princeton's McCarter Theater and starred Hershel Bernardi. He first worked with Alan Menken on a 1979 musical adapted from Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless you, Mr. Rosewater. They also collaborated on Little Shop of Horrors with Ashman as director, lyricist, and librettist, winning the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics. In 1986, Ashman was brought in to write lyrics for a song in Disney's Oliver & Company. While there, he was told about another project that they had been working on for a couple years. The film was The Little Mermaid, Disney's first fairy tale in 30 years. Ashman, along with Alan Menken, wrote all of the songs for the film. Ashman became a driving force in the Disney Company. He would hold story meetings and said "the animation and musical styles were made for each other which is why Disney needed to continue making musical movies". He also made strong choices in casting actors with strong musical theater and acting backgrounds. The Little Mermaid was released in November 1989 and it was an enormous success. Ashman and Menken received two Golden Globe nominations and three Academy Award nominations including two for "Kiss The Girl" and "Under The Sea", for Ashman won both awards for the latter. In 1988, while working on The Little Mermaid, Ashman pitched to Disney the idea of an animated musical adaptation of Aladdin. After he wrote a group of songs with partner Alan Menken and a film treatment, a screenplay was written by Linda Woolverton, who had worked on Beauty and the Beast. Then directors John Musker and Ron Clements joined the production. The story underwent many changes and some elements of the original treatment were dropped. Out of the 16 songs written for Aladdin, three of Howard's songs ended up in the finished film, which was released after his death. Beauty and the Beast was released in November 1991, eight months after Ashman's death, and it was an enormous success, both financially and critically. The film received four Golden Globe nominations winning three (including Best Picture- Musical or Comedy making it the first animated film to win) and six Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture) winning two. Ashman was posthumously nominated for two Golden Globes ("Beauty and the Beast", "Be Our Guest") and three Academy Awards ("Beauty and the Beast", "Be Our Guest", "Belle"). He won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for "Beauty and the Beast". His second Academy Award in 1992 was accepted by his partner, Bill Lauch. in 2001, he received the Disney Legend Award.

Alan Menken History

Alan Menken was born on July 22, 1949, in New Rochelle, New York. He developed an interest in music at a young age and began to study piano and violin. He studied music at New York University's Steinhardt School. After college he attended BMI Lehman Engel Theater Workshop, and performed at local clubs and worked as a composer of jingles and songs and as an accompaniment. In the late 1970's, Menken wrote several shows that were successfully showcased, but were not produced. Menken's first major professional work was with Ashman for the Off-Broadway 1979 WPA Theatre production of the play God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, an adaptation of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. This was well received, but three years later, he achieved greater success with the 1982 Off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors, again with Ashman, for which he earned a Drama Desk Award nomination. The play was an idea he got from Amy Lazarus, who originally had the idea for the play after watching the film one afternoon with her then friend, Bill O'Brien. Little Shop was adapted into a successful motion picture in 1986, and received a Broadway run. Menken is best known, however, for his work over the past two decades with the Walt Disney Studios scoring numerous films, including Disney animated classics The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Home on the Range, and Tangled, as well as the live-action Disney films Newsies (1992) and Enchanted (2007). Menken has received dual Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song on four of these projects. With eight Academy Award wins (four each for Best Original Score and Best Original Song), only composer Alfred Newman (nine wins) and Walt Disney (22 wins) have received more Oscars than Menken. He is tied in third place with late costume designer Edith Head. He currently holds the record for the most wins for a living person. He was named a Disney Legend in 2001.

Show that started their careers

Their first major production together was God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, an adaptation of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. This was well received, but three years later, they achieved greater success with the 1982 Off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors, again, and they earned a Drama Desk Award nomination.

Top Films/Shows

-The Little Mermaid

- Beauty and the Beast

- Aladdin

- God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

- Little Shop of Horrors

Howard Ashman Awards

- Academy Award for Best Original Song, Beauty and the Beast and Under the Sea

-Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, Beauty and the Beast and Under the Sea

-Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics, Little Shop of Horrors

-Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Score, Little Shop of Horrors

-Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media, Beauty and the Beast and Under the Sea

-Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, Little Shop of Horrors

-Grammy Award for Best Album for Children, Beauty and the Beast

-Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Beauty and the Beast

-Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical, Little Shop of Horrors

- ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards for Most Performed Songs From Motion Pictures, Beauty and the Beast

Alan Menken Awards

-Academy Award for Best Original Song, ''Colors of the Wind" and "A Whole New World"

-Academy Award for Best Original Music Score, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast

-Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, ''Colors of the Wind" and "A Whole New World"

-Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast

-Tony Award for Best Original Score, Newsies

-Academy Award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score, Pocahontas

-Grammy Award for Song of the Year, "A Whole New World"

-Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music, Newsies

-Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media, "I See the Light" and "Colors of the Wind"

-Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, Little Shop of Horrors

Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Beauty and the Beast

-Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast

-Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Score, Little Shop of Horrors

-Grammy Award for Best Album for Children, A pequena sereia and Beauty and The Beast

-ASME Medal, 1964

-Grammy Award for Best Musical Album for Children, Aladdin

-Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical, Little Shop of Horrors

-Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Score, Newsies

-ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards for Most Performed Songs From Motion Pictures, Beauty and The Beast

-BMI Film Music Award, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Characteristics of Soundtrack Music

-Musical themes are often repeated,establishing motifs, and parallels.

-Signal important changes in story

-A kind of musical label that is assigned to a character, a place, an idea, or an emotion

-Once assigned a leitmotif can be repeated each time the character, idea or emotion reappears

-Lyrics can be powerful indicators of mood or turning points in plot

-Different instruments can create different moods

-Choice of instrumentation can play a dramatic role in creating an environment for a scene

-Instrumentation can suggest a film's time period and setting

The Little Mermaid

The movie was based upon the story by Hans Christian Andersen. Ariel, youngest daughter of King Triton, is bored with life in the sea and wants to be with the humans above the surface. She is often caught in arguments with her father over those "barbaric fish-eaters". She wants to be with Prince Eric who she has seen from the ocean and has fallen in love with. Ariel goes to meet Ursula, the sea witch, to make a deal. Ursula gives her 3 days on land to find true loves kiss or she becomes one of her creatures. Ursula then takes Ariel's voice and goes on land also to prevent Ariel from winning over Eric. Ursula wins over Prince Eric and Ariel tries to stop the wedding but she is too late. Triton gives Ursula the trident giving her the power of the ocean. Eric helps fight Ursula and together Eric and Ariel save the day. In the Triton gives Ariel legs and she marries Eric.
Under The Sea - The Little Mermaid with Lyrics

"Under the Sea"

S- Woodwinds, Percussion, 1 main vocal, Brass, and Back up Vocals

H- Woodwinds, Percussion, Brass, Back up Vocals

M- Main Vocals

R- Fast, in 4

g- Medium-Loud-Medium

hill

Intro- chorus- verse 1- chorus- verse 2- chorus- verse 3- verse 4- chorus- outro

Soundtrack Music

Citations

"Film Reference." Alan Menken Biography (1949-). N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.

"Film Reference." Howard Ashman Biography (1950-1991). N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.

"Five Characteristics of Film Music." Flashcards. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.

"Plot Summary." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.