Just over a month ago, our family sat down to watch a musical together. This isn’t a really rare occurrence for us; we love musicals. What made this musical different was that it was a musical created entirely during the pandemic by amateurs and professionals. Yes, we were watching Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical.
TikTok is a social media platform where users post videos of 60 seconds or less. These videos are of all kinds of things: pets, cooking, dances, singing, farm animals, fashion advice, jokes. Pretty much anything you can think of has some kind of TikTok presence. Thanks to my teenage children, I have appeared in a few TikTok videos, but I am primarily a TikTok consumer, not a creator.
Back to Ratatouille . . . Over the past two decades, Disney has created several Broadway shows based on their animated movies. There is also a Ratatouille-themed ride set to open soon at EPCOT. This past October, some TikTok creators decided that it was time for Ratatouille to get the Broadway treatment. One of them made a video about a song for it. Another added harmony. Then, one created a set design. Someone made a Playbill. All in 60 second (or less) videos. It became a trend.
Eventually, a group of Broadway creatives decided to make this musical happen for real. Well, at least in a virtual fashion. They assembled a cast of Broadway actors including Tituss Burgess, Wayne Brady and Adam Lambert. They fully fleshed out the compositions. They wrote the script. In just a few weeks, it all came together – from the actors’ homes, in costumes they designed, with some virtual backdrops and some physical backdrops.
Tickets, granting access to the streamed musical for 72 hours from its January 1 premiere, were sold online. Proceeds from the tickets went to the Actors Fund, an organization that provides assistance to performers and behind-the-scenes workers. In all, 350,000 tickets were sold and over $2,000,000 was raised.
The musical itself was a delight. Each actor interpreted their costume differently, and we had fun noticing the special touches each added. The music was fantastic, and the performances were fun and powerful. But what really moved me the most wasn’t the story of Remy the rat or Linguine the cook. It was the story of the creation of this musical itself. People isolated from one another created something together. One of them had an idea, and other one added to it, and another, and on and on. Community was built around the story of a rat and his dream. And the story became about the people and their dreams.
We were made to be in community, just as God is in community in the Trinity. We need one another. We crave the chance to create something bigger than ourselves. Those opportunities may be somewhat more challenging to find these days, but I hope that we can all find them. If something as small as a song about a rat can bring thousands of people together, imagine what God can do with us if we are open to the possibility.