Originally a TikTok trend based on the 2007 Pixar film, “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical” streamed on Jan. 1, 2021 to benefit The Actor’s Fund, a charity providing support for unemployed actors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Available for only 72 hours, the production raised over $1 million for its cause and proved an appetizing treat for theater-starved fans.
The trend began after New York elementary school teacher Emily Jacobsen wrote an “Ode to Remy,” a song urging the world to remember the name of the iconic animated rat. As the video gained popularity, other members of the TikTok community began submitting their song, choreography, costume and even puppetry ideas for a hypothetical “Ratatouille” musical. On Dec. 5, 2020, a new official Instagram account, @ratatousical, announced “Ratatouille” as the first official Broadway caliber TikTok musical in history, using the ideas of these TikTok creators.
The music of “Ratatouille,” along with the performances of its stars, make it a delightful experience. A celebration of both the TikTok and musical theater communities, the show merges TikTok tunes with prominent theater voices and Broadway choreography with TikTok dances.
“Ratatouille” features film star Tituss Burgess, Broadway star Andrew Barth Feldman, singer Adam Lambert, comedian Wayne Brady and many other iconic actors. As the star of the show, Burgess adds humor as well as an immense voice, constantly breaking the third wall. Feldman, who made his Broadway debut in 2019 at age 16, masterfully cooks up a convincing performance as Linguini, and his voice is perfect for the role. The rest of the cast deliver a fun energy as well as loads of talent which come together to make “Ratatouille” something I would definitely watch again.
Critical viewers may find faults, such as seemingly cheap production quality and a lack of plot development. However, in some ways, I do believe these “faults” made the show more fun and allowed it to stick with its TikTok origins. Due to the show’s virtual nature, the actors were all filmed separately in their own homes. This causes an occasional disconnect between characters who are supposed to be in the same location but have very different backgrounds.
Similarly, each actor produces his/her own costume, so they appeared quite jumbled, especially with the rats. While Tituss Burgess (Remy) has only a gray turtleneck indicating his role as a rat, Wayne Brady, the actor playing Remy’s father, goes all out with homemade rat ears, gloves and face paint. These obvious discrepancies give the show a light hearted, homemade feel, something the collaborative creators desired from the show’s onset.
The mostly narrated show highlights nine original TikTok-created songs, including “Anyone Can Cook,” “Trash is Our Treasure,” “Kitchen Tango,” “Rat’s Way of Life” and more. While these short songs do most of the actual storytelling, along with Remy’s narration, the clever lyrics of the TikTok creators are more than sufficient to create a fun, refreshing treat for musical theater fans hungry for new content.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5