Ratatouille: TikTok’s musical pipe dream becomes a reality

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Hunter Finerty, Editor in Chief

Ever since I succumbed to the pressure of my friends and downloaded TikTok in early 2019, I’ve enjoyed the subtle and not-so-subtle inside jokes that have found a home on the platform. One inside joke, however, has transcended all others and that is Ratatouille: The Musical. 

It all began in August when Emily Jacobson (@e_jaccs) posted a TikTok of herself singing a voice-tuned ode to Remy, the rat-chef protagonist of Disney’s Ratatouille (2007). 

Jacobson’s lyrics, “Remy, the ratatouille, the rat of all my dreams,” were transformed into a more musical theater-oriented arrangement by Daniel Mertzlufft (@danieljmertzlufft) in a video on Oct. 19. Broadway actor JJ Niemann then created a TikTok using Mertzlufft’s audio on Oct. 21 that garnered over 500,000 likes and nearly 2.5 million views. 

This rendition triggered the Gen Z-led mania that has become known as Ratatouille: The Musical (sometimes referred to as the “Ratatousical”). Not only have these initial videos gone viral, but hundreds of creators have also come together to write songs and design costumes, sets, choreography, merchandise and a Playbill. While all of the submissions have been more impressive than I could ever create, there are versions of songs that are the best of their kind. 

The beginning conflict in the movie version of Ratatouille involves Remy finding himself in a dangerous situation as he searches for delectable combinations of human food. His dad, however, attempts to remind Remy part of a rat family and rats traditionally find their sustenance in the trash. Gabbi Bolt (@fettuccinefettuqueen) introduced a musical number “Good in the Garbage” from the perspective of Remy’s dad. 

Next in line comes the part where we’re introduced to Remy’s culinary inspiration, the late Chef Gousteau. Previously starring as flamboyant butler Bertram Winkle on Jessie, Kevin Chamberlin (@chamberlin_kevin) contributes a short and upbeat song on the piano, sharing Gousteau’s favorite message “Anyone Can Cook.”

After tragic events lead to Remy getting separated from his family, he finds himself in the streets of Paris next to Gousteau’s famous four-star restaurant. He sits in the rafters and watches lanky busboy Alfredo Linguini accidentally ruin a pot of soup. Remy sneaks into the kitchen to fix the soup, resulting in “The Soup” by Allison Kraus (@dontcallmeallie). Linguini notices the rat in the kitchen, but he recognizes that Remy fixed his mistake and is grateful. 

The rest of the kitchen staff discover the rat in the kitchen, so Remy subsequently has to be removed from the restaurant. Instead of killing Remy, Linguini finds himself sympathizing with him. Linguini realizes that he will be expected to recreate the successful but nontraditional soup and decides to team up with Remy. The pair’s encounter is best represented by a duet performed by RJ Christian (@rjthecomposer) and Cameron Reese (@thecameronshow). The duo really captures the playfulness that is needed before the intense songs to come. 

The next song introduces Colette, a talented and harsh chef that intimidates Linguini as they train. I have struggled to decide which TikTok submission best fits Colette’s personality. With “Colette’s Training Song” by Genevieve (@bowlingforsnails) coming in as a close second, another song takes the cake. “Colette Tango,” a dynamic duet between Blake Rouse (@blakeyrouse) as Linguini and Acacia Pressley (@aaacacia_) as Colette showcases the juxtaposition perfectly. 

The main “villain” of the movie and musical is Gousteau-hating food critic Anton Ego. Cameron Fox (@cameronfoxmusic) details the scene in which Ego discovers that Gousteau’s restaurant is becoming successful again albeit due to Remy’s contributions. “Anton Ego” recalls Gousteau’s catchphrase in disgust as he plans to visit the restaurant and write a poor review. 

After Ego is introduced, the true antagonist is brought into the spotlight. Chef Skinner has resented Linguini’s newfound talent. Skinner learns in secret that Linguini is actually the son of Gousteau himself, so he intends to uncover Linguini’s secrets and gain the restaurant for himself. American Idol’s Sophia James (@sophiajamesmusic) integrates her unique tone and creative song-writing skills, culminating in the jazz number entitled “I Knew I Smelled a Rat.”

As the musical theoretically comes to a close, RJ Christian (@rjthecomposer) presents Anton Ego’s heartwarming solo “Ratatouille.” This song depicts the scene in the movie in which Ego finally tastes Remy’s signature dish. Tasting the ratatouille brings Ego back to his childhood when his mother would make the vegetable-based meal. 

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen many finale numbers proposed by TikTok creators. I envision a rendition of Jacobson’s initial ode to Remy but I would also be a big supporter of an end performance similar to that of Hamilton including appearances from all of the characters in their own unique styles. The possibilities are truly endless.

When I began to write this story, the Ratatouille musical seemed like a pipe dream. However, it started to become more real when images were posted by Pixar and Playbill with references to the crowdsourced sensation. 

Pixar posted an image of Remy on Nov. 21 captioned “The rat of all our dreams,” in reference to the song that started it all. That same day, the Playbill Instagram account posted the mock program cover designed by Jess Siswick (@siswij). At least we thought it was a mock Playbill… 

On Dec. 9 it was announced that this ridiculous Gen Z fever dream would soon become a reality. Seaview Productions will stream Ratatouille: The Musical as a charity event benefiting the Actors Fund. The performance will take place on Jan. 1, 2021, and details regarding the cast and musical numbers that made the cut have not yet been announced. Seaview CEO Greg Noble has, however, confirmed that the ideas generated on TikTok will comprise much of the canon musical and the creators will be credited.

Because live entertainment is scarce amid the coronavirus pandemic, I expected ticket prices for the event to be more than I could justify paying to my parents. One click led me to find that the streaming site, TodayTix.com, has ticket options ranging from $5 to $50 (the difference in prices essentially just provides a bigger donation to the Actors Fund). 

I immediately purchased the cheapest option, screenshotted my confirmation email and sent it to my friends. Even though I didn’t contribute any content to this project, it has certainly been an immersive escape from 2020. There couldn’t be a better way to kick off the new year.

This link is a compilation of the TikToks mentioned in the story: