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RATATOUILLE: THE TIKTOK MUSICAL
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BWW Review: What We Thought of RATATOUILLE: THE TIKTOK MUSICAL

Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical premiered on January 1st, 2021, featuring Tituss Burgess, Andrew Barth Feldman, Ashley Park and more.

BWW Review: What We Thought of RATATOUILLE: THE TIKTOK MUSICAL

There was something almost surreal about hearing "Remy, the ratatouille, the rat of all my dreams," played out in full, glorious Broadway orchestration last night during the premiere of Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical when you think about where it all began. Born from one video, on an app that most of us hadn't even heard of at the start of 2020 - let alone spent the majority of our free time on - Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical came together in a way that no musical in history has before it. In 2020, a year characterized by physical isolation, digital communication became- by necessity- our way of life, our way to work, to connect, and to create.

Emily Jacobsen's (@e_jaccs) initial TikTok, a short, catchy tune, praising the beloved Pixar character, was certainly not created with the intention of spawning a full-fledged musical event, there had never before been circumstances in which such a thing could be- or would have needed to be- imagined. But that one TikTok gained traction, and from it came Daniel Mertzlufft's (@danieljmertzlufft) full-scale orchestration of the song, followed by the creation of more musical numbers, choreography, set design, puppet design, poster art and more. Theatre, by nature, is collaborative, and the inability of those contributing their work to the Ratatouille musical to come together physically, did not, as one would have traditionally thought before this, weaken the connection to one another or to the work, it strengthened it. A barrier was taken down, making it easier for people to communicate with one another, to share their art, allowing them to have a further reach and a bigger platform, and making theatre accessible in a way that it had never been. It would sound dramatic if the end result hadn't just premiered last night featuring a cast of Tony and Emmy Award winners, but as Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical was being brought to life on TikTok, we were watching musical theater history unfold in front of our very eyes.

Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical's origins on the app were not left behind during the virtual performance, but cleverly showcased and honored. For instance, a TikTok filter was used to add the illusion of more dancing ensemble members, and unless my eyes deceived me, I'm pretty sure the 'Dolphin' found its way into the choreography. The team that put Ratatouille together, did so with ingenuity, innovation, and care, weaving together as full of a production as the virtual medium allowed, and using it to service the work. Through creative editing and inventive framing, it was easy to accept that Alfredo Linguini (Andrew Barth Feldman) was speaking to Remy (Tituss Burgess) from feet above him, or that Remy, Django (Wayne Brady) and Emile (Adam Lambert) were, in fact, all sharing the same space as they interacted with one another on-screen. The book of the show, sometimes narrated by Burgess as Remy, sometimes played out via dialogue between characters, was fleshed out just enough keep the story moving between songs, with enough *wink* *wink* Broadway references thrown in to make you begin to dream of what Ratatouille might look like on stage.

But of course, the music (or one particular little tune) is where this all began, and there was something almost emotional about hearing the songs that started out as a fun TikTok trend brought to life by the incredible Broadway Sinfonietta and some of the brightest stars to ever hit the Broadway stage. Tituss Burgess sounded like a dream; Andrew Barth Feldman was the Linguini of all our dreams; Ashley Park as Colette Tatou was, frankly, everything we could have ever wanted; Adam Lambert gave 'The Rat's Way of Life' the rock-edge I didn't know it needed; Wayne Brady as Django was effortlessly charismatic; it would have felt just wrong to see anyone but Kevin Chamberlin as Auguste Gusteau; Mary Testa as Skinner was a stroke of creative, and comedic, genius; Priscilla Lopez as Mabel was a treat; and who else but André De Shields could have brought such dignity and gravitas to Anton Ego?

The end result of Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical was a satisfying and strangely emotional experience. The virtual event has so far raised more than $1 million for The Actors Fund, providing not only a connection to theatre when we need it most, but tangible aid for the currently struggling industry that we love so much. Theatre has, and always will be, adaptable and resilient. Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical was a ridiculously enjoyable reminder of theatre's best qualities, brought to us in a way that broke the mold, and allowed people to become for the first time ever, not just viewers of a fantastic show, but active participants in musical theatre history.


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