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Posts Tagged ‘put on a show’

Photo: PaperCraftSquare
Make your own version of the Pixar/Disney gourmand Ratatouile. Some folks use paper; others create musical numbers for TikTok.

TikTok has offered new creative outlets to a wide range of people, and from this story, it looks like anyone who wants to put on a show has a chance to find success on that platform.

As Zachary Pincus-Roth writes at the Washington Post, “Emily Jacobsen insists that she was just warbling a bit of nonsense while cleaning her apartment this summer. She didn’t intend to create a fake musical about a rat who bakes vegetables.

“ ‘There was almost zero thought put into the song,’ she says. The 26-year-old teacher in Hartsdale, N.Y., has a habit of posting TikTok odes to Disney characters, especially non-legendary ones such as Mr. Waternoose from ‘Monsters, Inc.’ One day in August, she recalled an article about EPCOT center’s upcoming Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, mixed it with memories of hymns and broke out in song: ‘Remy, the ratatouille, the rat of all my dreams … I praise you, the Ratatouille …’

“Then, just three months after she posted it, TikTokers had conjured up an entire ‘Ratatouille’ musical universe. A composer spiced up her song with Disney-fied orchestrations. Songwriters whipped up tunes for Remy, his brother, his dad, his fellow chef, the food critic Anton Ego. A director explained how he’d stage the show. Dancers demonstrated how they’d dance it. A puppeteer showed how he’d puppet it. A designer created a breathtaking Playbill, in a video that’s been seen nearly 5 million times. Stagehands, ushers, photos of the Broadway marquee — all of it materialized.

“But, of course, it didn’t — really. In 2020, while Broadway is closed and TikTok is king, some of the most exciting theater is a figment of our imagination.

“Like our own sourdough, the ‘Ratatouille’ musical was a concoction of pandemic boredom. But it’s also the culmination of a larger phenomenon in musical theater: Social media platforms, especially TikTok, are allowing for [a] new ecosystem of musical theater fan fiction, where creativity flourishes in unpredictable ways. …

“Now, the fan/performer experience has heightened, sped up, morphed — led by pioneers such as Alexa Chalnick, a 19-year-old Ithaca College sophomore who’s attending her virtual classes from home in Freehold, N.J. She’ll play the piano part of a song and invite her 600,000 TikTok followers to create their own videos singing along with her, using the app’s ‘duet’ function. Or she’ll invite them to try out for coaching sessions with her and Broadway performers.

“She held ‘auditions’ for a hypothetical ‘miscast’ production of “’Hamilton,’ giving worthy actors roles they wouldn’t usually get. Yes, in a trend popularized on Instagram last year, fans hold auditions for productions that will never happen — they just solicit videos and then post the cast list, and the winners see them as a badge of honor.

“Chalnick notes that TikTok’s features — including its ‘For You’ recommendations — give even obscure videos a shot. ‘What makes TikTok so different is that any video that you post has the possibility of blowing up, which I think is a little bit different from Instagram or YouTube, which won’t necessarily push out your videos’ as often to viewers who aren’t following you, she says.

“Katie Johantgen, 28, discovered this in October 2019, when she uploaded her first few videos to TikTok, logged off and returned a couple of hours later to discover that she had 12,000 followers. … ‘More than karaoke, it creates the piano bar vibe,’ Johantgen says of the app.

“Daniel Mertzlufft knows that vibe. The 27-year-old composer, orchestrator and arranger in New York is the one who injected Jacobsen’s Remy song with cello, chimes, French horn, glockenspiel, choral harmonies and more. He had done this kind of thing before: In September, he posted ‘Grocery Store: A New Musical,’ a 43-second song inspired by a Louisa Melcher lyric, where he plays one half of a couple bickering in an aisle. Fans used the duet feature to add more and more characters: his wife, his lover (played by ‘Pitch Perfect’ star Skylar Astin), their kid, a can of soup, even ‘the water sprayers that always mist you when you’re reaching for kale,’ as the TikToker put it. …

“Mary Neely was duetting with herself quite a lot early in the pandemic — though on Twitter, where she created TikTok-esque videos by lip-syncing to such show tunes as the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ opener, dressing up as each character and filming it herself.

The 29-year-old ended up on year-end best-of-theater lists in both the Washington Post and the New York Times and is moving from Los Angeles to New York to pursue a musical theater career.

“While isolated, Neely remembered that as a child, acting out soundtracks in her bedroom was what made her happy in times of loneliness. So she decided to indulge a passion that often made her feel like an outlier.

“ ‘When I made these videos, I was like, I don’t care if people think they’re lame. I don’t care if I get made fun of, because I like this, and this is a huge part of me and has informed my life in a really positive way,’ she says. ‘So why should I be muting that part of myself?’

“Even Broadway performers and shows have started to benefit from this kind of interactivity. ‘Six,’ a new show about the wives of Henry VIII, saw a clip of its song ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head’ lip-synced by Loren Gray (50 million followers) and Charli D’Amelio (103 million). Women have lip-synced to its lyric ‘Yeah that didn’t work out’ over photos of their ex-boyfriends. As the show’s marketing chief, Amanda Pekoe, puts it, ‘ “Six” lives and breathes in their lives.’ ” More.

From my experience with casting in community theater, I could relate to a comment about how you always think you want to see someone from another era in a hard-to-cast role. Now you can make it happen. Sort of.

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