A Great Musical can Come from Anywhere, Even TikTok

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(Via the Ratousical Instagram Account)

Jadyn Forman

   Rating: 4.9/5

     “Ratatouille: The Tik Tok Musical” (AKA: The Ratousical) premiered on Jan. 1 as a fundraiser for the Actor’s Fund, an organization that is currently providing emergency COVID-19 relief to those out of work in the theatre industry due to the shutdown. It boasted an all-star cast, including Wayne Brady, Adam Lambert, and Broadway legend Andre de Shields and was directed by co-creator of the hit musical “Six: The Musical,” Lucy Moss. What made “Ratatouille the Musical” unique was its origin as a trend on the social media app Tik Tok, which built into a large community of people contributing set designs, songs, choreography, and many, many other facets that are vital to creating a musical.

     “Ratatouille the Musical” follows the same plot as the 2007 Pixar movie of the same name. A rat named Remy (Tituss Burgess) with a superior sense of smell and taste dreams of being a chef, the only thing holding him back is that he is, well, a rat. When he gets swept away from his family, he finds himself in Paris, France in the most popular restaurant, Gusteau’s. There he meets Linguini, a clumsy waiter with no cooking skills. Together though, they become the most popular chef in the city.

     I am neither a Tik Tok user nor a fan of the original 2007 Pixar movie, so I was blown away by how much I enjoyed “Ratatouille the musical.” The songs were incredible, it was pretty hilarious, the cast did a spectacular job, and all around, you could really feel the heart in the production. You could tell everyone involved was truly doing it just because they loved to do it, so the enthusiasm was truly jumping off of the screen.

     The first aspect I must point out is the cast, who truly all put their maximum effort into making “Ratatouille the Musical” something memorable. Despite the entire cast having been in many higher-level productions than this 57-minute streaming event, they treated “Ratatouille the Musical” with every ounce of dignity someone would bring to a musical like “Les Misérables.” They all shined through their creative freedom as well, as they all had their own makeshift costumes and props. Their singing, magnificent. Their acting, amazing. Their dancing, ridiculously funny. I do have to give shoutouts specifically to Wayne Brady as Django, who put the most effort into his costumes and props out of anyone, and Ashley Park as Collete Tatou, who really showed off impressive singing and diction in her performance of the “Kitchen Tango.”

     The best part of the musical by far were all the songs. It is hard to imagine that all of these songs were written just by a bunch of amateur songwriters on Tik Tok. All the songs had amazing melodies, clever lyrics, and all-around great songwriting. My favorite was “Rat’s Way of Life” by Adam Lambert’s Emilio and the Broadway cast of “Six: The Musical.” The upbeat tempo and fun lyrics were truly a joy to listen to. I also enjoyed “I Knew I Smelled a Rat,” the villain song from Ego, and Remy’s “Remember my Name.” What made all the songs even better was when the cast took their “bows” and the original writers of each song took a bow with the cast members that sang their respective songs.

     While I am singing high praises, I do have to pick apart a few details of this production. Tituss Burgess’ performance as Remy was great, however; as the lead, I feel as though he should have put more effort into his outfit. Also, while I generally enjoyed Andrew Barth Feldman’s performance of Linguini and his singing abilities can not be denied, I found his acting to be overly awkward at times.

     It is also important to acknowledge what “Ratatouille the Musical” is. It was filmed by each of the cast members in their houses, most likely all with their phones, and while it was edited together pretty well, expect some awkward pauses between lines here and there, one or two errors, and not a very high production value. Also, at only around 57 minutes, they had a lot of plot to cram in there in a short amount of time. Despite all of these obstacles, the musical still beats the odds to be something spectacular.

     When I say aspects of Ratatouille the Musical being Broadway-caliber, I am not lying. With a few more songs and a fully fleshed-out book, I could see it taking the theatre world by storm even more than it already has. It is already far superior to the two actual Disney stage musicals I have seen, “Aladdin” and “Frozen.” Sadly though, I think the community sourced-ness of it is too much of a mess of rights to be able to figure out how to actually get it to the stage. 

     While it has been taken off of its official website, you can find many recordings of the show currently posted on YouTube. I highly recommend also donating to the Actors Fund to help thousands of people who can not do what they love because of Covid-19. So far, “Ratatouille the Musical” has raised 1.8 million dollars for the organization.

     Honestly, what really makes Ratatouille the Musical is its charm. From the Tik Tok community of people who put all their creativity into amazing songs, choreography, and other aspects of what makes musicals, just for the sheer pleasure of it and to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to the amazing cast and crew who put in so much effort to realize their great creations. “Ratatouille the Musical” truly shows how everyone can come together to make something great and a great piece of art, truly can come from anywhere.