With Broadway and theaters throughout the nation idle due to the coronavirus, some actors, producers and prop designers have discovered an unlikely outlet for his or her skills: a musical model of the animated movie “Ratatouille” that’s taking part in out in exuberant 60-second increments on TikTok.
Starting final month, hundreds of TikTok customers, together with many with Broadway credit, have paid homage to the 2007 Disney Pixar movie, a few rat who desires of turning into a French chef, by creating their very own songs, dances, makeup looks, set designs, puppets and Playbill programs.
The result’s a digital present not like any on Broadway. There isn’t any director, no choreographer, no stage crew. It has come collectively organically on TikTok, the place customers have solely a minute to catch individuals’s consideration.
In the movie, Remy the rat follows the instance of a well-known chef who says that “anyone can cook.” It is in that spirt that professionals and amateurs alike have taken up the “Ratatouille” musical problem, mentioned Brandon Hardy, a puppet designer whose Broadway credits embrace “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Pee-Wee Herman Show.”
“He never limited himself on his vision,” Mr. Hardy, 30, mentioned of Remy. He added, “We just fell in love with this, and we don’t want anyone to stop us.”
The mission started in August, when Emily Jacobsen, 26, a schoolteacher, Disney fanatic and theater lover from Westchester County, N.Y., examine a “Ratatouille” trip that’s scheduled to open subsequent yr at Walt Disney World in Florida.
As she was cleansing her condo, she began singing a track about Remy. Adopting a excessive pitch, she recorded what she described as “a love ballad” for the rat — “Remy, the ratatouille / The rat of all my dreams / I praise you, my ratatouille / May the world remember your name” — and posted a video of the tune on TikTok.
Daniel Mertzlufft, 27, a New York-based composer, orchestrator and arranger, was tagged in Ms. Jacobsen’s video. Last month, he used a pc program to boost her unique ode to Remy, including a French horn, trumpets, vocals and strings to create a big Disney-style finale for a “Ratatouille” musical.
Mr. Mertzlufft mentioned he had been impressed by the music Alan Menken composed for “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and different traditional animated Disney movies.
Since Mr. Mertzlufft posted his video in mid-October, hundreds of others have shared their very own contributions to what has grow to be one thing of a digital “Ratatouille” musical. In the previous couple of days, Disney signaled that it had been paying consideration, quoting Ms. Jacobsen’s lyrics on Instagram and Twitter. It even made its personal TikTok rap at Epcot, the place the “Ratatouille” trip is being constructed.
“We love when our fans engage with our stories,” Disney mentioned in a press release, “and we look forward to seeing these super fans experience the attraction when it opens at Walt Disney World next year.”
Kevin Chamberlin, whose Broadway performing credit embrace “The Addams Family” and “Seussical,” revisited the “Ratatouille” film earlier than recording his personal contribution to the musical. It was the Chef Gusteau character, and his remark that “anyone can cook,” that spoke to him, he mentioned.
A theme of the film, Mr. Chamberlin mentioned, is that even the clumsiest amongst us can discover expertise deep inside ourselves. Inspired, Mr. Chamberlain sat down to write down whereas his husband rushed out to get him a chef’s hat.
Once in costume, he sat at his piano and sang: “Anyone can cook / All you have to do is look inside yourself.”
Only the coronavirus pandemic might have introduced out a digital present like this, Mr. Chamberlin mentioned. “What’s really interesting about all this is that, during this pandemic, art is pushing through because we can’t get on stages and in front of audiences.”
Other contributors echoed that sentiment, including that the “Ratatouille” musical mission had given them motive to hope throughout a darkish time.
“If it can bring joy to people, and it seems like it has, then that’s the best feeling in the world,” mentioned Tristan McIntyre, 22, a Los Angeles actor who helped choreograph a rat dance for the present.
RJ Christian, 21, a vocal efficiency scholar at New York University, mentioned he had been impressed by the film’s acerbic meals critic, Anton Ego, for the solo he contributed. He mentioned he needed embody Mr. Ego with “weird chords, spicy harmony and creepy-crawly kind of music.”
For Blake Rouse, 17, of Fort Collins, Colo., the “Ratatouille” mission gave him an outlet after the pandemic pressured the cancellation of his highschool’s manufacturing of “Newsies.”
“This is no longer a niche TikTok theater joke,” he mentioned. “This is kind of a thing that people care about and are starting to keep up with.”
The contributions transcend performances. Mr. Hardy, the puppeteer, made some masks and small puppets for the digital present, even utilizing rubbish to create a number of the components.
“We’ve created something that’s engaging to people at every level,” he mentioned. “People of every age group are fascinated by this and want to contribute to this. As far as I’ve seen, there really hasn’t been a show or musical in history that’s sort of operated that way.”
And Christopher Routh, 30, of Chatham, N.J., used packing containers to create elaborate miniature set designs for the present, full with lighting and a Lego robotics set to maneuver the items round.
“It’s such an incredible trend on how our community can come together like this and create a musical out of nowhere,” he mentioned. “And it all started with one girl.”