If you told me a year ago that I would be ringing in 2021 by watching a musical adaptation of Disney Pixar's 2007 animated film Ratatouille, I probably would have called you crazy and said that 2020 was not going to be the year to drive me to stay home on New Year's Day and watching rodent-themed musicals. Oh, how wrong I was – and that's a good thing!
Aside from the sheer miracle that a musical joke that originated on TikTok got made into a Broadway-caliber musical, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical is heartwarming, toe-tapping, wholesome fun for the whole family. Proceeds even go directly to The Actor's Fund, a charity for those in the arts, especially Broadway, which is still closed. If you're unfamiliar with the origins of Ratatouille: The Musical, allow me to take you back to August 2020; it started on a little known app called TikTok, when Emily Jacobsen posted a short, silly little musical ode to Remy after reading about the new Ratatouille ride in Disney World. People started liking it, adding their own songs to the "#RatatouilleMusical" hashtag, and the rest is history – er, the present.
This collaborative spirit led to contributions from professional stage producers, set designers, choreographers, musicians, arrangers, and composers – even a custom Playbill, complete with fictional rat-themed ads. It's a small reminder that even though the stages may be dark, anyone can come together and shine hope and entertainment into the darkest of times.
The show itself is cheeky, with musical nods to cast members' former onstage credits such as Cats, A Chorus Line, Rent, Hamilton, and Les Miserables. But that's not where the references stop – other nods to pop culture come in the form of RuPaul's Drag Race (including a cameo by one Laganja Estranja), Nutella, how awful 2020 was, and even pizza rat. Hey, you try making a musical all about rats and food in the present day and not including pizza rat – the rats would riot!
Yes, the score is a little derivative at times (not unlike one Andrew Lloyd Webber), but if you have some imagination and see this show for its potential, this little musical about a rat with big culinary dreams might be right up your alley. Besides, it was realized as a fundraiser for The Actor's Fund, which has served a vital role in providing pandemic assistance to performing artists since Broadway, touring shows. Most live performances went dark last March with no return currently in sight.
That said, though, it trots out the A-list talent in its all-around amazing cast. Titus Burgess stars as Remy, with Wayne Brady and Adam Lambert ratting it up as Remy's father and brother, respectively; Kevin Chamberlin as Chef Gusteau; André De Shields as food critic Ego; Ashley Park as Colette; and Mary Testa as head chef Skinner. Priscilla Lopez and Owen Tabaka also star.
Though it's less than an hour, I can see middle schools wanting to use this as their musicals to avoid going with Aladdin Jr. again. It's wholesome and cute yet still full of action and features a story that is well known and widely accessible to everyone.
Though Disney currently has no plans to officially bring this to life, the spirit of Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical lives on. You can donate to the Actor's Fund here and engage with Ratatouille: the first fully realized crowd-sourced musical at ratatousical.com. And remember, anyone can make a musical!