Will “Ratatouille The Musical” make it to Broadway?

Who knew a rat could cause a revolution?
Don’t know what I’m TikTok-ing about?
Let me catch you up, my over 40-something friend.
The latest social media platform to hit the e-waves goes by the name TikTok. It made a name for itself by doing two things:
  • Allowing users to post 15-second clips of themselves doing crazy dance moves.
  • Getting accused of espionage by our ex-administration (sorry but not sorry if that “ex” part was a spoiler for anyone).
And now it’s getting a new rep . . . for making musicals.
A few MONTHS ago, a TikTok-er posted a made-up melody for a hypothetical musical based on the Disney film, Ratatouille.
And then, a few weeks ago, another Tok-er added orchestrations like you’d hear in an Act II finale.
And boom.
Viral sensation born.
But here’s where it gets interesting.
See TikTok isn’t about viewing content. It’s about MAKING content. So people didn’t just view the video. They added to the theoretical musical by making up songs of their own. Some added choreography. Makeup.  
In other words . . .
An entire musical, created by its fans, is coming together right before our virtual eyes.
(And, I might add, much faster than “real” ones get made!)
So now you’re up to date.
But what does all this mean? It means a ton, actually, but here are 3 Takeaways from The Ratatouille Musical on TikTok (and a special surprise too).
1. TikTok has tipped.
The “kids” make social media sites. Adults break them.
See, like new musicals, young people can only get a social site so far. Unless the site finds an older audience (i.e. the moms of those early adopting kids), the sites ends up as another MySpace. (Ironically, the kids find the NEW social-site because their moms found the old social-site. And like fleas on a dog, they jump to the new one.)
This is why Facebook went beyond its “college-only” membership model, and why it tipped into the big-billionaire-boys-club.  I remember when Twitter tipped in 2008, which I predicted and wrote about here (the Arab Springs had something to do with it).
And, this musical is drawing the adults to TikTok, like, well, like a rat to the subway.
I’ve gotten at least seven emails in the last few days from people my age asking me “Did you see that rat musical on “The TickTock?”
Yep, TikTok is now officially a thing.  
What does this mean for you?  Get ready to start focusing your promotional efforts on this new platform.
(But don’t worry, Twitter is just about dead so you won’t have to manage that one for much longer.)
2. TikTok is a great place for TheaterMakers to get discovered.
You know who made this musical go viral?  A musical theater writer.  
And in this one video (not to mention his previous “Grocery Store” the musical) he’s gotten more attention in a few months than in his entire career.  (I don’t think he’d mind me saying that – and if he does, I’ll apologize to him directly, because I’d love to meet this guy.)
It wasn’t too long ago that YouTube was the place for musical theater writers to break out (Pasek and Paul talked about their success being tied to YouTube’s birth here). Now, TikTok looks to be the next place that song writers can get discovered.
(IMPORTANT NOTE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO EMULATE THEIR SUCCESS): They used a big brand to get a spotlight on their stuff. I call this strategy “brand-jacking” and it’s awesome.)
3. People effin’ miss musicals.
If you EVER thought musicals were losing their relevancy, take a look at the 10 million views these videos have gotten. And take a look at how major media has gotten involved. And Playbill.com. And even Tony-nominated composers.
People all over the world are banding together to write a musical. Would this be happening if they could see one? No. That first video never would have been posted in the first place.
And our audience has kept Broadway and musicals top of mind better than any marketing agency could ever dream of doing.
– – – – – 
Now the question is . . . will Ratatouille The Musical actually get produced??? Will Ratatouille make it to Broadway?
I don’t know. But I know this . . .
I want to produce it.

See my appeal to the writers of Ratatouille The Musical to give me the rights to produce it on TikTok here:


It wasn’t right.

The first copy was too big.

The second was too blurry.

The third copy was juuuuuussssst right.

And so went the Goldilocks-like journey of publishing my new book, CAST OF MENTORS:  SHORT SAGE ADVICE FROM 50 BROADWAY SUPERPOWERS.

You can order the “just right” version right here, just in time for the holidays.

One thing I do guarantee . . . the advice in this book, from A-listers like Terrence McNally, Joe Mantello, Mandy Gonzalez, Kenny Leon, Pasek & Paul, and so on is “juuuuuust perfect.”

There’s an answer in this book for every question a TheaterMaker might have, from a college student with a BA in theater graduating in the middle of a pandemic, to a professional producer with awards on his mantle who is still looking for his West Side Story (ok, ok, that might be me.)

Oh, and the hardcover version looks cool on a coffee table.

Get it here.  If it doesn’t help you, let me know.  We’ll give your money back to you.  And you don’t even have to return the book . . . you just have to give it to another TheaterMaker.  Because I know the words of these Mentors will inspire the right people to do great things . . . on and off the stage.


What “The Queen’s Gambit” Taught Me About How To Market Broadway.

Nerd alert confession time:
In 1991, I was a member of The Manhattan Chess Club.  
I was a decent player, although I did get beat by an 8 year old once. (In my “defense,” my coach told me the kid was the next Josh Waitzkin). 
I gave it up. Not because the 8 year old slapped my ego like a hockey puck. But because I got hyper-focused on becoming a “grandmaster” in the theater . . . a journey I’m still on, by the way!
But chess is one of those things that I say I’ll get to someday. You know, like when I retire. (Ha!) And every once in awhile, when chess appears in the news, I’ll click.
So, when I noticed that a new Netflix series called The Queen’s Gambit was trending, I couldn’t help but watch.
There were seven episodes.
I watched them in two “up-until-2AM” nights.
There were a ton of marketing lessons from this series:
– It felt like a true story, but wasn’t (a strategy more typical for horror films, like The Blair Witch Project).
– The “#X in the US” banner on Netflix uses social proof to give you a solid dose of FOMO if you do NOT watch.
– The series was “limited” giving you both a desire to finish it, and also want something more. (Google “2nd season of Queen’s Gambit” to see what I mean.)
But the biggest marketing lesson of all is the simplest, most powerful, and it’s right on the surface . . . but also hidden from view.
What am I talking about?
Put it this way . . .
What do you think I wanted to do after watching ONE episode of watching The Queen’s Gambit.
That’s right.
I wanted to play chess.
The Queen’s Gambit wanted me to play chess.
And . . . here’s the ding-ding-ding . . . I bought a chess set within 24 hours.
Now, I understand marketing enough to know that if this happened to me? This happened to a lot of those people who made the series #3 in the US.
The lesson?
The best way to sell something is to create a story around that something.
It’s long-term strategy. No question. But if someone asked me how to market Broadway?
It’d be encouraging more movies about Broadway and the theater. More TV shows about the theater. More books, poems, and stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the theater.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to buy a course on how to play better chess.
(Have you seen The Queen’s Gambit?  Did this happen to you?  Are you playing more chess now?)
– – – – –
Do you have a show but need some help in marketing it, without hiring a high-priced marketing company you don’t need?  Click here for lessons on how to market your show from Broadway A-listers for less than you pay for your gym membership.

10 Takeaways from The TheaterMakers Summit.

The title of this blog could have been 10,000 Takeaways from The TheaterMakers Summit.
But to be honest, I have so many action items from our 103 speakers myself, I want to get working on them right away.
So, you’ll have to forgive me if I only have time to type out 10 of the 10,000.
My hope is that one of the 10 below is the “thought domino” you need in your career or your life. Because, as I mentioned in my welcome speech, it only takes one.
The right takeaway, action item, thought, note, etc. can start your snowball rolling down the hill.
I know this. Because it happened to me.
My life changed when I heard ONE thing. I had been toiling away in a decent job. Dreaming about more. But not doing anything about it.
And then I heard my ONE THING. From Hal Prince. He ignited a fuse in me that is still burning to this day.
So enjoy these 10. And let one of them spark you to do amazing things in the theater. And beyond.
“We don’t have time to dither; we don’t have time to feel helpless; we don’t have time to wait for rescue. It’s up to us.” – Jim McCarthy
“Pick the thing you love to do and learn how to do it really well, do it with conviction with 100% esteem and all your heart, even  if it’s a small  thing, and that will translate to something else eventually.” – Stephanie Klemons
 “There only two things actors have any control over. Your attitude and how prepared you are, the rest is completely out of our control.” – Jenn Colella
“You have to have something that speaks to audiences of color and stories that are told by those people and those artists, and they must be involved from the beginning.” – Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates
 “We are going to see an explosion of creativity in the next 10 years in the industry, we will be mentally prepared for it and our audience will demand it.” – Shele Williams
“One of things I hope will change in the future: what we think of as Broadway or mainstream theatre doesn’t have to be these big houses.” – Ben Brantley
“The path to systemic change is uncharted territory, it will take our collective power to map the way forward together, and this is a marathon we all need to be prepared to see through to the end.” – Naila McKenzie
“If there’s one thing the last nine months have taught us is that time is precious, and the things you’re working on better matter.” – Arvind Ethan David
“Recognizing we can grow as a community and be more thoughtful and engaged with the audiences that are to come. It gives us a chance to review… and we need to bring a little grace into the conversation.” – Thomas Schumacher
“The last time America faced a pandemic, the next 10 years were some of the most productive and foundational years in our art form. Broadway was essentially born during that time so I hope you are holding on to a sense of encouragement right now.”  – Christopher Jackson
And here’s my piece of advice to add to the above.
Seek out the wisdom of others who are where you want to go. Use their path, their words, their advice to springboard you to success.
It works.
– – – –
10 Takeaways not enough for you, you serious action-taker TheaterMakers? If you want to hear more of the 10,000 Takeaways from the TheaterMakers Summit, click here.

“One Last Time”

“One Last Time” is my favorite tune from Hamilton.

There’s something gracious in the message, and something so amazing in the performance.  It’s one of the umpteen reasons I wanted Chris Jackson to speak at our conference this weekend.

And today, I have my own version of that message . . . as I tell you, for the last time, that this is your final chance to get a ticket to The TheaterMakers Summit, which starts in less than 24 hours.

I know, I know, you’ve probably heard me talk about the TheaterMakersSummit already.  Maybe you’ve seen ads, gotten emails, or heard me mention it a billion times in this blog.

Well, sorry, but not sorry.

The reason we e-smack you over the head with this message?

We know, for a fact, there is nothing else we do all year long that helps people achieve their theatrical goals.  Period.  And it only takes one weekend to do.

Think about it.

  • We have over 100 A-list presenters.  You wouldn’t have 100 professors in an MFA program!
  • We have over 30 panels, on every subject from streaming to playwriting to personal finance for TheaterMakers.  You wouldn’t have that diverse a curriculum in any MFA program.
  • And you will join hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of other TheaterMakers just like you.   You wouldn’t have that many networking connections in any MFA program!

If you’re a writer, director, designer, actor, producer or just appreciate the art of making theater, this is the conference for you.

And whether you’re just starting out or you’ve already had shows running around the world, you’re going to learn how to get to the next “stage” of your career.

You’ll just have to forgive me if I’ve talked about this conference a lot.  I can’t help it.  I remember what it was like seeing the first show I produced on stage, the first show that I wrote on stage.  And I’m obsessed with helping people feel that same feeling.  Because there is nothing like it.

And when you see an audience respond to something you’ve created?  Oh man . . . is it something.

So if you want to make theater, if you want to feel that feeling, there is no better place on the planet to be this weekend, then at The TheaterMakers Summit, with 103 experts and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people just like you.

Still on the fence?

Think about it this way.

What’s the worst thing that could happen if you came?  You didn’t learn anything?  Ok, you’re in the same place you are now.  And you email me and we give you a refund.  No questions asked.

Now.  Ask yourself . . .

What’s the BEST thing that could happen if you came?  You get your show up?  You advance your career?  You meet someone to help you along?

Worth it?

Yeah.  That’s what I thought.

There.  I said it. This is my “one last time.”

Join us.