In a time where COVID-19 has suppressed theater entertainment, “Ratatouille the Musical” made headlines when it debuted as an entirely virtual musical on Jan. 1. Fittingly, the proceeds went to The Actors Fund, raising over a staggering $1.9 million.
The musical originated last year on TikTok, when user @e_jaccs released a catchy melody about the main character in the Pixar movie, Remy. It soon gained popularity under the hashtag #ratatouillethemusical and attracted all sorts of talent. In addition to songs, contributors created choreography, concept art, and costumes.
With these individual creative components already on the platform, all that was left was to bring it to life. Though it seemed difficult to know what the contributors’ and their fans’ expectations were for an actual production, most probably never expected the concept to be picked up by a production company — Seaview Productions. After all, the pandemic itself has made it difficult to visualize what is realistic. Not to mention, the idea was from random creatives on the internet, with ideas limited to one-minute clips on TikTok.
“Ratatouille the Musical” did not fail to disappoint, however. Beloved and talented actors like Tituss Burgess, whom many might know from his role in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” played Remy, and Kevin Chamberlin, well known as Bertram Winkle in Disney show “Jessie,” played Gusteau.
News of the production was met positively, and the performances were undoubtedly memorable. Ashley Park, who plays Colette, performs a fiery “Kitchen Tango” with co-star Andrew Barth Feldman, who plays Linguini. The entertaining banter continuously goes back and forth, energized by a superb orchestra. Of course, the musical would not be complete without the film’s iconic ending scene featuring Anton Ego.
Played by legendary actor André De Shields, we see his transformation from a moody, uninspired food critic to someone who’s fundamentally changed by the beauty of food itself. We’re left with an uplifting quote: “I now know that not anyone can cook, but a great cook can come from anywhere,” inevitably charged with emotion in the context of a world with great difficulty.
The musical is a reminder of what art ought to be: not a space for pretentiousness or profit, but one fostered by collaboration and a genuine love for the craft itself. Additionally, “Ratatouille the Musical” shows what’s possible through virtual mediums like TikTok. No doubt the creative world might learn quite a bit about how performance art can be redefined, and how talented people, like cooks, can come from anywhere.