There’s a certain animated rat who’s made a resurgence in pop culture thanks to the efforts of an odd TikTok trend. The work of TikTok’s musical masterminds caught the attention of Broadway, and after a few weeks, “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical” released two shows and raised $1.9 million for the Actors Fund.
It all started with a simple, somewhat ironic idea. Emily Jacobsen uploaded a few bars of a song in August 2020 about the Pixar movie and left it at that. Two months later, popular TikToker Brittany Broski made a TikTok using the audio, and Jacobsen’s audio went viral.
It eventually fell into the lap of composer Daniel Mertzlufft, who revamped the song and suggested a musical be made from it.
Suddenly, an entire subsection of TikTok was dedicated to songs, costumes, stage art and other ideas to make the performance come to life. Playbill released “The Official (Fake) ‘Ratatouille’ Playbill” back in November, which featured the more prominent TikToks of the trend. Even Disney and Pixar started to get excited about the pitch, posting related material on their social media.
All the musical needed was a director to glue it all together. Lucy Moss, an aspiring newcomer to Broadway, took on the project. Coming off the high of her smash hit, “Six,” Moss is the youngest woman ever to direct a Broadway show and now the first for a virtual TikTok musical. Greg Nobile with Seaview Productions also agreed to produce the show for online viewing in under a month.
The Ratatousical brought together stars like Tituss Burgess, Adam Lambert, Andrew Barth Feldman and Tony-winner Andre De Shields. When production finished, Moss claimed the musical was “a Zoom reading that drank 20 Red Bulls” and for good reason.
TodayTix hosted “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical,” selling tickets and providing their platform to stream the recorded musical.
Prices varied from $5 to $50 which was directly donated to the Actors Fund, a charity that supports performers and theatre staff nationwide. The show started with an overture from the Broadway Sinfonietta, a 20-piece all-female, primarily-POC orchestra. There was a montage of the musicians alongside the TikToks which made it all happen.
It went on to introduce its cast of characters, who were filmed in separate locations. They mostly just stared into the camera and read their lines in front of green screens or their own homes. Costume consultant Tilly Grimes helped actors dress for their roles by looking through their closets (over video chat) to see what they had.
Behind their recorded videos was a hodgepodge of patterns I’d describe as tacky themes for early Microsoft PowerPoint. They utilized tech effects to paste multiple shots next to each other and duplicated performers in their own videos. They also colored shots to fill the mood or even used visual effects like flashing for cameras.
The show wasn’t typical Broadway quality, but in a pandemic with less than a month to practice, they did what they could. Without a set, Burgess, as Remy, narrated most of the actions the audience would have seen.
Dialogues were shots pasted next to each other, but while it was a cool idea, it didn’t quite replace an in-person conversation. They scrapped many great characters like the Gusteau kitchen staff, including Horst (“I killed a man with this thumb”). All in all, the final product was very informal, like a play in a living room.
Play ‘INDECENT’ showcases themes of historic controversy, power of artLast weekend, the Music Theatre of Madison had their first performances of “INDECENT,” a play reflecting cultural assimilation, xenophobia and Read…
But it seems like that was meant to be.
“The point was to really lean into the aesthetic of TikTok which is totally frenetic and DIY,” Nobile said. The performance relied heavily on material provided by TikTokers with a pinch of Broadway spice. But most of the songs, set and costume ideas came from the app.
And at the end, the Ratatouille TikTok community was acknowledged for their contributions to the show. Because without them, “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical” would not have happened. Whether it’s in the kitchen or behind a phone, they are the true embodiments of the phrase, “anyone can cook.”