Arts & Entertainment Editor
Live theater has been in a weird, yet innovative place since the pandemic hit in March 2020 (and I miss it very much). Broadway shut down on March 12, which left people wondering: how will theater survive? Theater thrives on a live audience and the fact that no two performances are the same. However, despite this void, theater has still found a way to captivate audiences amidst the pandemic. One of the most popular ways this has been done is through TikTok, with Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical encapsulating the creative capital that the app has curated.
It has been almost two months since I wrote my article about the Ratatouille musical trend that took TikTok by storm in Fall 2020. In that article, I mentioned how other “musicals” were created through collaboration. Since the creation of Ratatouille: The Musical, others followed suit. I’ve seen TikToks for Up: The Musical and Incredibles: The Musical. However, they haven’t been able to gather as much traction. Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical became so popular that Playbill announced a filmed concert was in production on Dec. 9. Seaview Productions was set to stream the filmed show on Jan. 1. Donations began at $5, and the concert was streamed on TodayTix.
I attended the hour-long concert, which featured many well-known Broadway actors and actresses. Titus Burgess (The Little Mermaid) played the sarcastic Remy. Andrew Barth Feldman (Dear Evan Hansen) was the spitting image of Linguini. Ashley Park (Mean Girls) put on her best French accent to play Colette. Wayne Brady (Kinky Boots) was the stern Django. Kevin Chamberlin (Wicked) said “anyone can cook” as Gusteau. André De Shields (Hadestown) put on a bedazzled jacket to play Ego. Adam Lambert (American Idol) was the glamorous Emile. Priscilla Lopez (A Chorus Line) played Mabel, and Mary Testa (Oklahoma!) played Chef Skinner.
From the get-go, I could tell this musical was going to be something special. The musical opened with the original creator, Emily Jacobsen, introducing and crediting the multiple creators who helped bring this idea to life. During the overture, many TikTok submissions were featured on screen. The score was also performed by Broadway Sinfonietta, composed of 20 mostly women of color musicians. The actors only had 24 hours to memorize their lines and songs (which was incredibly impressive) and had to come up with their own costumes and makeup with whatever they had. Each person’s interpretation of a rat was different. As Burgess says in the first five minutes, “I am indeed a rat; I may not look like it, but I am” as he gestures to his gray turtleneck. Lambert was the most glamorous rat around, and Brady was costumed a rat (there were moments where I was really sold by his rat performance). The casting for the show was also spot on. As I mentioned earlier, I was convinced Feldman was Linguini; not only did he look like Linguini from the animated film, but he even sounded like him. Chamberlin was the perfect Gusteau and Park had a very convincing French accent. Despite the show being virtual and low budget, it still had the essence of what musical theater is.
Without the flashy Broadway sets and lighting, it really came down to how each performer delivered their role. As Remy puts it, each performance had “just the right amount of cheese.” Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical shows that theater can persevere through this pandemic, it just needs to find creative ways to do so. It also highlights the number of talented creatives there are and how we should embrace these unknown voices. Perhaps the pandemic will shed light and create more crowdsourced musicals. Just as Gusteau says “anyone can cook,” anyone can create.
Featured Photo Courtesy of TodayTix