Ratatouille achieves renewed stardom thanks to musical versions

Virtual event serves as fundraiser


Screenshot/Vivian Tanforan

Tituss Burgess as Remy (center) appears with his rat family in the filmed production of Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical. The viral sensation raised $2 million as a benefit for The Actors Fund.

How old were you when Disney’s momentous 2007 film Ratatouille was released? I was only a year old at the time, but that hasn’t stopped me from becoming a die-hard fan of this masterpiece. 

After seeing the movie at the dentist’s office in my youth, it became ingrained in my mind for years to come. With its uplifting message, plus jokes for kids and adults alike, I can say with confidence that Ratatouille is a modern classic in the world of kids’ movies.

I haven’t thought about those lovable rats in ages, but it seems like they are making a return in the world of pop culture. This year, a group of TikTok users have brought new life to Ratatouille, this time in the form of a musical. In the past month, it has taken the Internet — and the world —  by storm.

It all began in August, when TikTok user Emily Jacobsen’s “Remy the Ratatouille,” an ode to the film’s main character, garnered nearly a million views on the social media app. From there, more and more creators added songs to the musical to develop the story of Remy, a young rat who winds up becoming a chef with the help of unlikely friends. Now, it even has its own website at ratatousical.com.

And that’s not all: This month, the musical sensation came to an even larger-scale platform than TikTok. Seaview Productions presented a filmed concert presentation of the viral sensation Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical on TodayTix Jan. 1 as a benefit for The Actors Fund.

The musical rang in the new year with a much-needed dose of festive cheer, as well as supporting charity. In fact, it made a whopping $2 million, all from the contributions of dedicated fans. Ratatouille fans are a force to be reckoned with, it seems!

But as a fan of the Pixar movie, written, directed and produced by Brad Bird and Brad Lewis, do I approve of the musical’s take? 

While I love the original film, I was initially dreading the musical, fearing that it would tarnish the acclaimed name of Ratatouille. In general, I approach musicals with trepidation.

As I’ve found, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical is not most musicals. In fact, it’s more than a musical. It’s an experience, using characters like scrappy Remy and bumbling chef Linguini to illustrate the message of following one’s dreams.

Before the musical was officially released, I found the soundtrack promising, with lively songs made all the more impressive for being made at home. 

While it’s definitely a work in progress, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical did not disappoint when I saw it. The creators even referenced another comical musical adaptation, Tom Hooper’s 2019 take on Cats. This shows the Ratatousical makers have a sense of self-awareness that Hooper’s anarchic feline phantasmagoria lacked. 

In numbers like “Trash Is Our Treasure,” I felt immersed in the garbage-strewn world of Remy and his buddies, thanks to Wayne Brady’s vibrant role of rat leader Django. Remy’s rat pals were the highlights of the production, as well as Ashley Park’s spirited performance as chef Colette.

My one complaint is that I wish Tituss Burgess had played a stronger Remy. The charming rat that captured my heart all those years ago felt flat and corny in this rendition. The short run time denied him of his chance to shine. No doubt, this was due to the various obstacles of producing a musical while in quarantine. All the same, I commend the cast for embarking on this ambitious project.

The musical tries to replicate the charm and wit of the original film, with added appeal to Generation Z. The humor is as cheesy as Remy’s cooking and as stale as the garbage his rat family scrounges up, yet somehow I found myself laughing along to the silly gags. I encourage any fellow Ratatouille enthusiasts to look into this quirky production. It won’t replace the 2007 classic, but I think it serves as a fine addition to the Ratatouille canon.

It’s been 14 years since the movie premiered, to decent box-office success and critic reviews as stellar as a Michelin star. But why make a musical now? This is a testament to Ratatouille’s ongoing relevance. In quarantine, we found ourselves nostalgic for Remy’s relatable underdog story. Although I’m not a rat, his journey of pursuing his culinary dreams was something that resonated with me deeply. 

In recent years, musicals have seen a rise in popularity with teens. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s worldwide sensation Hamilton just came to Disney Plus this summer (see the recent article here). Dear Evan Hansen, another popular Broadway hit for the youth, is currently being made into a film. Is Gen Z the generation of the musical?

Regardless of the answer, watching the Ratatouille saga unfold over TikTok has been quality entertainment. During these chaotic times, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical is a welcome reminder that anyone can cook, and nothing can stop us from going after our goals. 

This murine musical has a bright future ahead of it, and I hope to see it come to the stage and screen someday. Until then, I think I’ll watch Ratatouille again, and let its nostalgia fill me like a warm plate of, well, ratatouille.