If you’ve been on TikTok any time in the past few months, you’ve probably seen or heard about Ratatouille: the Musical. The fan-made, collaborative project was born out of TikTok user Emily Jacobsen’s (@e_jaccs) viral audio. After the original audio circulated, ambitious creators across the platform threw their hats in the ring too. And now, in 2021, the musical is catching the attention of Playbill, Disney and other prominent figures in the world of entertainment.
And while a fan-made musical for a movie about a cooking rat might seem absurd, there’s actually more to it than that. Following the show’s virtual opening night on January 1st, it’s safe to say that the Broadway community is aching to get back to work. Given the virtual environment and success of the Ratatousical, Broadway has never been more accessible. Ratatouille: the Musical is indicative of the Internet’s ability to band together for a common cause, as well as, perhaps, the future of Broadway.
Anyone Can Cook
On August 10, 2020, TikTok user @e_jaccs uploaded a simple TikTok video featuring filtered photos of Disney/Pixar’s Remy the Rat. The video, which has since garnered over one million views, is the root of the Ratatouille musical. In any expected outcome, this would’ve been a standalone viral video, lost to the cycles of the For You Page.
Until it wasn’t. Over the course of the last 4 months, creators of all kinds have come out of the woodwork to produce songs for the musical. There was no end goal to the contributions, simply musicians contributing their best for the fun of TikTok. Much like its source material, the crowdsourcing that occurred for the Ratatousical proves that anyone can create. During normal times, Broadway is one of the most inaccessible platforms to create for. Only a select few are chosen to write and perform for the handful of shows that run at a time. From the start, Ratatouille: The Musical has been different. Its origins on TikTok ensured originality and accessibility to creators all over the world and of all skill levels. Never before has a musical come to life as so.
When it became clear that the online show was headed for bigger things, it retained its artisan integrity. The 1-hour length show was written completely by some of the original TikTok users who published their work on the app. What’s more, they all received full credit for their creations and the proceeds of the musical benefitted The Actors Fund. Ratatouille: The Musical is not just unprecedented in its creation. It’s the one musical that truly belongs to the people who made and witnessed it.
From January 1st, 2021 to January 3rd, 2021, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical is available to stream on TodayTix. Featuring the well-loved songs from TikTok, performed by a stellar Broadway cast, the show was a hit. Put on as a benefit for The Actors Fund, the event raised over $1 million dollars from fans of the show. For good reason, too.
Starring Tituss Burgess as Remy and featuring other household names of Broadway, such as André De Shields, Mary Testa and more, the show panned out phenomenally. Though it’s hard to separate it from its TikTok roots, the two are able to exist beautifully together. Every number performed in the show is an extended version of the original creations from TikTok, sung with all the flair of Broadway. Fans of the show were particularly fond of Wayne Brady’s performance as Remy’s Dad, Django.
Most impressive, though, is the fact that the recordings of the cast were put together in the span of a few weeks. Going into production around Thanksgiving, the production was filmed by December 24th and edited to be released by January 1st. That’s an unprecedented timeline for a Broadway show. The timeline on which the Ratatousical was put together demonstrates the resilience of musical theater. In a time where productions on all scales have been and will continue to be shut down, the arts prevailed.
The Future of Musical Theater
With that said, Ratatouille: The Musical is an interesting precedent for Broadway in 2021. Clearly, musical theater can be done online in the most unexpected of ways. Professionals in the community, from actors to musicians, are still involved in the arts, which begs the question: can Broadway go completely virtual in 2021? Without a clear date for when in-person shows will resume, adapting to the virtual landscape is an increasingly viable option. The music industry has transferred over, with dozens of artists creating, releasing and even performing songs completely online.
The hope for Broadway fans, of course, is that more projects like the Ratatousical pop up in 2021. After all, if a musical born out of TikTok could raise $1 million, who’s to say how a classic show would perform online? Only time will tell.
The rat of all our dreams. pic.twitter.com/T1srDJvObs— Pixar (@Pixar) November 21, 2020
Featured Image via Playbill