Did you know...Howard Ashman Envisioned the Genie as Black?
“[Howard Ashman] said he had two rules he tried to follow in the construction of some of his musicals. With songs, 'Never go slow, when you can go fast.' He worried about the holding power of slower tempo ballads, and talked about hearing the dreaded sound of, ‘program rattling’ in the theater, a surefire indicator the audience was losing interest.
“The other rule was: 'Never go White when you can go Black'. Howard loved the power, emotion and expressiveness he felt so many Black singers brought to the stage, and writing material for them was irresistible to him. Thus, his Genie was Black, as were his plant and chorus in Little Shop – and Tina Turner beckoned from the live action world.*”
“I told Howard about our idea of casting Robin as the Genie. Howard knew Robin, and was good friends with Robin’s first wife, with whom he had gone to school in Vermont. Howard was initially skeptical about the idea of Robin, particularly because the Genie’s number, Friend Like Me was clearly written for a Fats Waller/Cab Calloway persona. I explained to Howard that our approach to the Genie could accommodate his (and Robin’s) ability to shift into a number of personas, one of whom could be a jazzy showman. Howard relented then and said he thought maybe it could work after all.
“Howard didn’t survive long enough to see Robin record the song.”
– John Musker, co-director of Aladdin, via howardashman.com
*In the late 1980s, Howard Ashman got Disney to buy the rights to Tina Turner’s autobiography, ‘I Tina’. What’s more, he wrote the original – albeit unused– script for what eventually became ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’. Mind. Blown. .
#animation #voiceacting #voiceactor #animationstudent #Disney #animation #alladin #genie #robinwilliams #alanmenken #johnmusker #tinaturner #writer #broadway #writing #screenwriting #Black #disneyland #littleshopofhorrors #funfact #HowardAshman #donhahn @don.hahn