Howard Ashman (Lyrics) Best known as a pivotal creative mind behind the renaissance of Disney animation and his work on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and The Beast (which is dedicated to, “Our friend, Howard Ashman, who gave a Mermaid her voice and a Beast his soul…”) Ashman’s first love was theater. Ashman was a founder of off off Broadway’s renowned WPA Theater, where he conceived, wrote, and directed God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, as well as the classic musical, Little Shop of Horrors (both music by Alan Menken). In 1986, he wrote and directed the Broadway musical Smile (music by Marvin Hamlisch). Lamented as a lost treasure of the 1980’s theater scene, Smile remains popular on High School and College campuses throughout the country. Howard Ashman died in 1991 from complications of AIDS.