Ratatouille: The Meme Musical Taking Over TikTok

Delaney Murphy, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Everyone from theater kids to Broadway actors have joined forces on the social media platform TikTok to create art. This art comes in the form of an unofficial musical adaptation of the 2007 Pixar film Ratatouille, which follows a Parisian rat named Remy who teams up with amateur cook Linguini to achieve his dream of becoming a chef. To many, the plot seems like the perfect base for a hit Broadway production.

The movement started

Delaney Murphy

when TikTok user Emily Jacobsen (@e_jaccs) posted a song called “Ode to Remy,” a short ballad praising the main protagonist of Ratatouille. Unbeknownst to Jacobsen, her song set the stage for what was soon to come.

Inspired by “Ode to Remy”, another user, Daniel Mertzlufft (@danieljmertzlufft), decided to turn the simple song into a showstopping Act II finale for a hypothetical musical based on Ratatouille.

“When I heard Emily’s song, it immediately made me think of the old Disney classics; Hunchback of Notre Dame, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and I knew I had to run with it,” Mertzlufft said.

Along with the song, the video features written commentary describing what could happen onstage during the number. The clip ends with a black screen and a joke about the musical “coming to Broadway 2021.”

Since Mertzlufft’s video came out, the TikTok community has taken the idea of a Ratatouille musical and expanded upon it. Almost overnight, the project became a fully-fledged production, with countless ideas coming in from people all around the world.

“I cannot believe the outpouring of love that surrounds this show. I also love seeing all the young artists engaging in writing and singing and keeping active during these hard times,” Mertzlufft said.

Users have submitted new songs, choreography, set designs, costume designs, and user Jessica Siswick (@siswij) designed a Playbill. Even Broadway actor Kevin Chamberlin (@chamberlin_kevin) got involved, writing a song for the character Chef Gusteau called “Anyone Can Cook.”

Ratatouille: The Musical has, overall, been enthusiastically received by viewers, including Mason High School freshman Macy Carlson, who has seen and enjoyed some of the additions to the show.

“I just think that it’s really cool that it’s not … produced by… some famous producer,” Carlson said. “All these people are making contributions to help make this musical.”

Carlson thinks that an adaptation of Ratatouille is the perfect idea for a stage production.

“You can make anything into a musical, and [in] this one … there are a lot of really important scenes,” Carlson said.

As the musical has gained popularity and publicity, both Pixar and Disney on Broadway have acknowledged it on social media, quoting lyrics from the song that kicked off the trend.

Recently, talents from Broadway and TikTok put together Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical, produced by the company Seaview Productions. From January 1 through January 4, the production was available for streaming on the musical’s official website, ratatousical.com. To get a ticket to the event, people could donate any amount of money between 5 and 100 dollars to the Actors Fund, a charity that helps to “meet the needs of our entertainment community,” according to the organization’s website. Since its release, the show has raised over 1 million dollars.

The cast featured Tituss Burgess as Remy, along with actors such as Andrew Barth Feldman as Linguini, Wayne Brady as Django, Ashley Park as Collette Tatou, Adam Lambert as Emile, André de Shields as Anton Ego, Mary Testa as Chef Skinner, Kevin Chamberlin as Auguste Gusteau, Owen Anthony Tabaka as Young Ego, and Priscilla Lopez as Mabel. The performers recorded themselves separately to comply with social distancing guidelines, and the many elements came together into one cohesive show.

In a time when theaters are closed and the pandemic has made it impossible for artists to perform together, the people of TikTok have found a way to make creativity happen in the most unpredictable way.

“While Emily and I might have kick-started the movement, the movement doesn’t exist without the thousands of people adding on and collaborating as a whole; even though we are all so far apart, we remain connected,” Mertzlufft said.