The newest viral sensation to kick off the year; a Shonda Rhimes inspired TikTok musical. The Netflix hit, Bridgerton, a 19th-century drama, filled with scandal and intrigue graced our screens on Christmas day. Its growing success continues on the smaller screens of TikTok by creators eager to give the story the razzle-dazzle theatre treatment we have all been missing.
As the pandemic has caused a necessary pause on the arts, it has sparked starving audiences to create their own entertainment and keep the magic of theatre alive. Creatives alike have been using TikTok as a platform to showcase their work, and through this expression, it birthed the phenomenon of TikTok Musicals. Building a community of creators such as songwriters, artists, and dancers united on a project to celebrate connecting art forms.
To date, the biggest success story is the Ratatouille Musical inspired by the Pixar movie of the same name. This phenomenon stemmed from one song that spiralled into a viral sensation of over 54.3 million views. It resulted in a full-length production with a star-studded cast; that raised over $1.9 million for The Actors Fund.
From the incomparable response, it is safe to say The Bridgerton Musical is on its road to being the newest headliner.
The trend started when Abigail Barlow, singer-songwriter, posted the first Bridgerton inspired song Oceans Away that gives an insight to the main protagonists’ Daphne and the Duke’s relationship. The initial video has over 700k views and is not even a week old. This project is a collaborative experience with a fan account being made as a collection point for the work; with numerous creators attributing artwork and material to the show and fans alike duetting videos boosting its reach.
I was lucky to interview one of the project’s notable collaborators, Sophie Terry, who has wowed viewers with continuations of the story through her celebrated songs and writing.
The 22-year-old Aussie actor is a self-professed “lover of all art forms from across the creative spectrum and thrives from the creative process”; which is apparent in her work.
She describes her timeline with Bridgerton as she’s just finished the series and fell in love with the show like the rest of the world. She then saw the original video “what if Bridgerton was a musical” by Abigail Barlow, who she was a massive fan of beforehand. “I posted about it all on my socials, and I duetted it, and then Abby started to follow me, and I was fangirling.” She discusses that Abigail’s work was very inspiring to her and ignited her lightbulb moment. “After that, I had a real gut feeling that it was just going to blow up, and I had to be involved somehow.”
Terry talks about how it was a comfortable process to tap into these characters’ minds, and she attributes her inspiration down to the writing. The story’s foundation is so strong which allows room to play and expand but “My main objection is to get the heart of the character down, so my interpretation is as authentic as possible because that’s what I and others respond to”. To achieve this, Terry uses quotes and critical moments from the show that creates an emotional connection, which gives a greater understanding of the characters that audiences have grown to love.
A key factor as to why she has found success is due to her songs playing on the family dynamics of the show and living up to their families namesake expectations. A title she has so cleverly coined “not the Bridgerton kind.” This allows the audience to get into the characters head but also provide a seamless continuation to the story.
She notes that the Bridgerton kind idea stemmed from her first video. A fan commented, suggesting she expands the narrative she’s creating, which speaks volumes to the collaborative nature that TikTok allows. TikTok as a platform is different from its social media counterparts like Instagram, as its nature encourages communications between creators through features like duets which welcome direct response and opinions of creators’ work. This amplifies the connection that artists have, especially when society is in a state of isolation. These relationships spark joy and human comfort, which is essential to look after your mental health.
Terry has big aspirations for her interpretation of the projection. As she moves to New York in a couple of months; the epicentre of greasepaint and spotlights. “The ideal scenario is that it does to Broadway and that I get to collaborate with other people for it to reach its full potential. Ideally, I would love to be creatively involved significantly in the writing because its second nature to me and I can see the whole plot in my head. So, seeing that to life would be surreal. In a perfect world, I would cast myself as Eloise because she was the first character that started this journey for me, and I feel a strong kinship with her.”
There is no question that there are big plans ahead for this project, but what is certain that Bridgerton The Musical is only one example of the crucial need for the arts. Terry ended the interview expressing her thoughts of the power of arts which sums this movement up perfectly. “The arts are vital in any capacity; it conveys a deep expression of the many pockets of the human experience and is one of the only things that help us feel connected and less alone.”
The theatres’ lights are dim now, but audiences are eager to see it at full beam again.
Below you can find handles and links for all things Bridgerton the musical:
Featured Image Credit: Medium