“It immediately just screamed ‘end of Act II’ Disney finale,” Daniel Mertzlufft shares about the original parody song by Emily Jacobsen that sparked “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical,” which is based on the 2007 Disney/Pixar film. Mertzlufft wrote an arrangement for that piece that further fueled the viral sensation and led to the filmed special that debuted in January. Mertzlufft and Macy Schmidt helmed the project as music supervisor and music director, respectively, and Schmidt reveals, “I had 13 days to orchestrate this show for a 20-piece orchestra,” describing the project as “a scramble that required a lot of trust.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
SEE Emmys could go viral as TikTok is eligible to win for ‘Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical’
Mertzlufft also served as composer and arranger, and Schmidt the orchestrator. Together they had the challenge of making songs from at least a dozen different TikTok creators into a cohesive score. Mertzlufft describes the process by which he and his collaborators winnowed down the hundreds of TikTok pieces to the handful used in the final product, considering, “What were the most liked? What were the most shared? What were the most interacted with?” Schmidt adds, “Dan and I are both very, very influenced by the classic Disney style” and “have almost identical musical vocabularies.”
Not only did Schmidt strive to “maintain the integrity of the versions of the songs we all got very attached to on TikTok,” but the orchestra she founded called The Broadway Sinfonietta also recorded the score. The Sinfonietta is an all female-identifying and predominantly women of color orchestra, and Schmidt notes how “providing work is quite literally the most tangible way we can advance all of these conversations” around racial justice, opportunity and representation in the theatre industry.
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Mertzlufft and Schmidt also reflect on this whirlwind experience six months after the musical debuted. “It was so fun to feel collaboration in a way that I hadn’t felt since the beginning of the pandemic,” Mertzlufft shares, adding later, “The biggest thing was being able to take what had been built online” by so many TikTok creators and “being able to honor them in a way that was thankfully received well.” “It was really moving that everyone corralled around this,” Schmidt adds about the musical’s global impact.
“Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical” stars Tituss Burgess as Remy and Andrew Barth Feldman as Linguini, the unlikely duo of rat and garbage boy who together become a culinary sensation in Paris. The musical also features Wayne Brady, André De Shields, Adam Lambert, Ashley Park, Mary Testa and others. The special has been viewed over 1.4 million times and raised over $2,000,000 for The Actors Fund.
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