‘Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical,’ the production of all our dreams

Gen-Z boredom leads to Broadway success

The musical has all the ingredients for a hit.
Photo: 

When the pandemic caused theatre doors to close last year, musical theatre didn’t immediately find its footing in the online world. Fair enough—its appeal draws from the raw power of a live performance and booming applause. By the end of 2020, however, a new recipe for the musical had emerged, and Ratatouille was the final dish.

The secret ingredient? TikTok.

Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical is an online show which premiered on Jan. 1, 2021 on TodaysTix.com. Tickets were $5, and all proceeds went to the Actors Fund, an American charity that supports performers and workers in performing arts and entertainment.

The show is a musical adaptation of the beloved 2007 Pixar film, Ratatouille, and tells the heartwarming tale of Remy the rat’s adventures navigating Parisian haute cuisine with his awkward human friend Linguini. Comprised of 12 musical numbers, the show was produced by Broadway veteran Jeremy O. Harris, and features a star-studded cast that includes Adam Lambert, Tituss Burgess, Tony-Award winner and Hadestown lead André De Shields, Dear Evan Hansen’s Andrew Feldman, and Mean Girls' Ashley Park.

While most musical productions take years to write, O. Harris announced that Ratatouille would begin production on Dec. 9, less than a month before its New Years Day premiere. In that time frame, an official score was produced, actors were found, and scripts were circulated. This impressive feat was only possible because the creative work had already been done—and it was lodged in thousands of TikToks created by users who’d hopped on the #RatatouilleMusical trend in November.

It all began with 26-year-old Emily Jacobsen, who came up with a catchy ode to Remy the rat while vacuuming her apartment. She posted it on TikTok, and it went viral after a composer found the song and vamped it up using digital orchestral sounds. Suddenly, the idea of a Ratatouille musical became an internet meme. People were sewing puppets, choreographing numbers, composing original songs, designing costumes, and creating PlayBills. The Ratatouille musical suddenly had every ingredient, but no directions for how to put it all together.

That’s where Broadway came in.

The content on TikTok was too splendid to be ignored by Broadway theatre company, Seaview Productions, who decided to don the chef’s hat and refine that content into a 53-minute benefit musical, and Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical was born.

As a non-TikTok user, I thought the musical was still accessible entertainment for those unfamiliar with the app, which speaks to the creative ways TikTok was integrated into the show. The clone effect was used to resemble a perfectly in-sync chorus line, and the actors appeared on-screen in rectangular frames to mimic a phone screen. They wore DIY costumes and sung in their kitchens, contributing nicely to the at-home, homemade atmosphere of the show.

Every actor dove headfirst into their role, but Andrew Feldman as Linguini was particularly *chef’s kiss*, with his uncanny resemblance to the animated character and perfect portrayal of his clumsy mannerisms. The songs possessed that show-tune lilt reminiscent of true Broadway and saved the show since the storyline was rather crumbly given how much plot was cut for simplicity’s sake. I had goosebumps during the overture as the orchestra built up to the penultimate line: “Remy the Ratatouille / The rat of all my dreams!” I bopped my head during Collette’s “Kitchen Tango,” and I rocked out to “Rat’s Way of Life” when Emil (Adam Levine) hit the song’s iconic high note.

It was when Anton Ego, the notorious food critic, delivered one of the final lines, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere,” that I realized Ratatouille was the perfect source material for this project.

In the end, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical wasn’t Hamilton or Les Misérables, but that didn’t matter. The musical felt special in a different way. When, during the bows, the show gave full credit to the TikTok creators who’d written the original songs, I felt incredibly hopeful. A bridge had been formed between the amateur and the professional, between the girl singing in her bedroom and the girl singing on Broadway.

This musical showed the world that there is no license for creativity—anyone can create something impactful, just like anyone can cook.

Tags: 

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.