Sure, “Little Shop of Horrors” was fun. But Howard Ashman didn’t truly hit his stride until Disney realized animated musicals were the studio’s ticket back to relevance.
I can remember the line where it happened for me, in Disney’s legendary “comeback” cartoon, “The Little Mermaid.”
“When the sardine begins the beguine it’s music to me.”
Here was a songwriter (Alan Menken did the music to their greatest collaborations) who knew the Great American Songbook, and figured finding a laugh here and there with it was a way to write his name in that book, alongside Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and others.
And he knew that’d sound funny as heck sung in a Jamaican patois.
This OVERDUE documentary appreciation of the Man Who Saved Disney comes to Disney+ Aug. 7.