The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday April 13th

Review: 'Anyone can cook’: TikTok’s 'Ratatouille' musical

<p>DTH Photo Illustration. "Ratatouille: The TikTok the Musical" is “the first crowd-sourced musical,” created during quarantine by TikTok users using the hashtag #ratatouillemusical.</p>
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DTH Photo Illustration. "Ratatouille: The TikTok the Musical" is “the first crowd-sourced musical,” created during quarantine by TikTok users using the hashtag #ratatouillemusical.

“Remy, the Ratatouille, the rat of all our dreams. I praise you, my Ratatouille, may the world remember your name.”

Before “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical” hit small screens this weekend, the song — originally posted as a TikTok audio in early August by Emily Jacobsen (@e_jaccs) — hit smaller screens across the world as it totalled millions of views on the video-creation platform. 

The audio was the first of many ingredients jam-packed in the bisque of humanity, novelty and song that is “the first crowd-sourced musical,” cooked up during quarantine by TikTok users claiming the hashtag #ratatouillemusical.

The musical, directed by Lucy Moss and choreographed by Ellenore Scott, premiered virtually on Jan. 1 and is available to stream on demand until Jan. 4. 

Tickets to stream the musical are available through TodayTix on a “contribute what you can basis” with a minimum donation of $5. The musical has already raised over $1 million for The Actors Fund, which has provided creators with upwards of $18 million in emergency grants since the start of the pandemic. 

The musical’s star-studded cast spans from popular TikTok creators like JJ Neimann (@jjneimann), to high-profile stars like Tituss Burgess, a Broadway and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" alumnus who plays Remy, the “rat of all our dreams.” 

Clad in a skin-tight gray turtleneck and his characteristically humorous flamboyance, Burgess’ soaring tenor carries viewers from his home in the sewers of Paris with rodent brother Emile (Adam Lambert) and father Django (Wayne Brady) to the kitchen of recently passed Chef Gusteau, played by Tony Award nominee and "Jessie" alumnus Kevin Chamberlin. 

There, our vermin friend pursues his culinary dreams under the (literal) hat of misfit Alfredo Linguini, played by Andrew Barth Feldman of “Dear Evan Hansen," and the wing of chef Colette, played by Tony-nominated Ashley Park of Broadway's "Mean Girls." 

The show’s virtual production pays tribute to its TikTok origins through everything from screen arrangement (cast members, though physically apart, are placed side by side as they would be in stitch or duet) to Generation Z humor (Remy screams, “Trigger warning: vulnerability!” to the audience before an emotional scene).

Almost cartoonish in nature, the musical’s filter-esque effects play into the silly and lighthearted nature of the whole digital affair. 

Though Burgess himself shines throughout the musical, each supporting cast members’ unique singing chops, from Park’s faux-Français mezzo (Kitchen Tango) to Lambert’s poppy countertenor (Rat’s Way of Life) are showcased in their songs. The show’s TikTok-based composers are credited in the virtual Playbill. 

Despite its comical nature, the musical manages to bring a tender sweetness to the table, especially toward the end when famed food critic Ego is brought back to childhood by the tastes of Remy and Linguini's take on the title dish, ratatouille. 

In a flashback, adult Ego, played by Tony Award-winning actor André de Shields of "Hadestown," and Young Ego, portrayed by Owen Anthony Tabaka, sing side by side of how Ego's mother showed her love by making that very dish. Even after the true identity of the bite-sized chef is revealed, Ego is won over by Remy’s cooking despite his rodent-ity. 

As is reflected in Ego’s words, “not anyone can cook, but a great cook can come from anywhere.” This musical, despite its humble and even dismal beginnings, served 58 minutes of culture-clad, culinary greatness to viewers in a time when greatness is so hard to be found and even harder to be made.

Pop some popcorn, pay $5 (or more) and watch this TikTok musical/culinary journey and 2021 palate cleanser extraordinaire while you still can. We promise you won't regret it.

@sclaire_perry | @ElizabethEganNC

arts@dailytarheel.com

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