“Ratatouille: the TikTok Musical” is a TikTok sensation. Now it’s going to be a live show

Daniel Mertzlufft helped make it all possible. But first, let’s get this out of the way. Despite his iconic line, “Remy the Ratatouille!,” in “Ode to Remy,” Remy is NOT a ratatouille. Remy is a rat, and he is the star of Ratatouille.

Now, back to how this all started.

How “Ratatouille: The Musical” was born

In October, Mertzlufft came across Emily Jacobsen’s video, in which she sang a couple of pitched-up lines for a musical based on (subjectively) the greatest Pixar movie of all time, Ratatouille. Mertzlufft took it from there.

A trained composer, arranger, orchestrator, and music director, Mertzlufft transformed the original TikTok with big orchestral sounds and ensemble voices, and also shared his stage vision. Glitter everywhere. Confetti. Remy the rat rising above the audience on a stage lift. 

How Daniel Mertzlufft helped jumpstart the Ratatouille musical

And then “Ratatouille: the TikTok Musical” blew up on TikTok. To date, Mertzlufft’s arrangement of the song has 2.2 million views. It inspired other songwriters, singers, choreographers, and composers to add their own creations, including “Ratatouille Tango,” “The Soup,” “Anton Ego’s Villain Song,” and “You’re Just a Rat.

“I didn’t choose Ratatouille. The world did,” Mertzlufft said. “And I think there’s a couple of reasons. One of them I think is timing, because we’re in a pandemic and everyone just misses theater so much. Also, the main demographic on TikTok is the Gen Z’ers, so this is right to the Gen Z’ers’ ears, that’s one of their movies. But it’s also just about the story. I think it resonates with people in a very specific way because it’s an underdog story.”

Thanksgiving surprise

Mertzlufft was thrust into the mainstream spotlight after the staff of The Late Late Show with James Corden noticed his other viral TikTok composition, “Grocery Store: The Musical,” and invited him on the show.

Corden asked Mertzlufft to compose a new TikTok musical with a Thanksgiving theme. He was thrilled to do it. Mertzlufft performed the part of “the college student who didn’t want to be there.” He was told members of the Late Late Show‘s house band would fill the other family members’ roles. 

Instead, Corden surprised Mertzlufft live on air by filling the roles with iconic Broadway names, including Kristin Chenoweth, Josh Gad, Patti Lupone, Audra McDonald, and Josh Groban.

“I mean, come on. It was one after the other, all of whom I love for so many different reasons,” Mertzlufft gushed. “Like Kristin… Wicked was my childhood. Josh Gad, I’m obsessed with him. I think he can do no wrong in my head. Patti Lupone is my icon above all icons.”

Mertzlufft said he couldn’t have cast the show any better himself. 

“I had no idea that it was gonna be like,10 Tony award winners, and four Emmys, and an Oscar or two!”

TikTok stardom and what comes next

While the pandemic has been hard on many creative fields, Mertzlufft counts himself as one of the lucky ones. As a music composer, he still has plenty of outlets to express his art.

“I’m really lucky, because I’m a writer and writers can write in their apartments,” Mertzlufft said.  “So I’ve been cranking out as much as I can. And I think that that’s my way of coping, also. I know people cope in different ways, but the thing I’ve been doing is just forcing myself to stay extraordinarily busy this whole time as to not think about the world outside.”

Mertzlufft isn’t letting TikTok stardom go to his head. As he said, he knows his niche on the app: making fun and creative content, since he can’t just be “a good looking, young thirst trap.” 

“TikTok is where I found a big outlet for my writing, because there’s an audience there and they like the content,’ he said. “But you know, I [also] write serious things. I’m a classically trained composer. But I feel like everyone right now just wants some joy, so that’s what I’ve been putting on TikTok, just like, parody stuff to bring you a little bit of joy in the terrible we are all living in, and people seem to enjoy it!”

I feel like everyone right now just wants some joy, so that’s what I’ve been putting on TikTok…

Mertzlufft says his heart will always lie with what brought him TikTok fame: Broadway and Disney. 

“I would love to work on a Broadway show or Disney movie. Those would be the two dreams, but you gotta do a lot of stuff to get that. I actually am working on a kids’ show right now that I think would also turn into an animated movie really well. So I think that that would be a good path, to get the show out. Get it to DreamWorks, or Netflix. And then have Disney be like, ‘Oh, shoot, we should grab that guy.’ That would be the ultimate dream.”  

And what of the future for Remy (not) the Ratatouille, you ask? While an onstage Broadway rendition feels distant, Playbill announced that TodayTix will stream a live staging on Jan. 1. It will feature Andrew Barth Feldman (Dear Evan Hansen), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Titus Burgess, and Ashley Park from the Mean Girls musical, with proceeds going to The Actors Fund.

“I’ve been supporting it, [and] what I love right now is that it’s truly crowdsourced. I’m proud to be one of the helpers to really start it. But moving forward, [Disney’s legal team] does concern me, even though there has been buzz about Disney and producers… I don’t have high hopes for a Broadway version, but I really would love to see it as a Disney Park show. That would be perfect.” 

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