JJ Niemann is taking our love of musical theater to the next level. As a performer, JJ has appeared in several theater productions. He’s even been on Broadway in The Book of Mormon! Unfortunately, the pandemic caused Broadway to shut down and put a pause to theater as we know it. But JJ managed to find a fun way to stay connected to the theater community in the meantime.
You may have seen JJ before – and not necessarily in person. He’s gathered a huge following on TikTok with his videos inspired by the musical theater community. He’s envisioned what TikTok would look like as a Broadway musical. And he’s made us laugh with his series of what Broadway actors say when their mics are turned off. Then there’s my personal favorite, the Real Housewives of Broadway
“I was a very musical child. And I grew up around it,” JJ told YEM. “All of my siblings, I have three older sisters, they did shows. My parents ran their own theater company for a few years.” His upbringing of being surrounded by music set the stage (pun intended) for JJ to be Broadway bound. “As long as I can remember, I always wanted to be on stage. I would go to see my oldest sister in shows until I was 8 years old. And then I was finally old enough to perform myself.”
JJ Niemann was even involved in Ratatouille the Musical! The musical that started out as a fun idea on TikTok became a musical of its very own starring Wayne Brady and Titus Burgess. And JJ shared with us what it was like to be a part of the show. Not only was the musical conceived on TikTok, but it quickly came together to become a full-on musical over Zoom!
“That’s the beauty of TikTok. Gen Z and a lot of people on the app just have the weirdest humor. And I’m obsessed with it. I love embracing the random. Anyway, then I saw Dan Mertzluff who ended up arranging a lot of the musical. And he made the chorale arrangement that really blew up. As soon as I heard it, I thought I have to use this audio.”
Once JJ used the sound, his video got more than 2 million views! It wasn’t long before Ratatouille the musical became a reality – and JJ was asked to be involved. “The show got put up so quickly. It was really like a whirlwind. I saw it was announced and I became friends on social media with Dan because of the whole trend. I literally messaged him on Facebook and was like, ‘Hey if you need any singers, I’ve been making videos about this on TikTok and I would love to be a part of this show.’ At the same time, the choreographer for the show Ellenore Scott literally slid into my DMs and asked if I wanted to be involved in a new project.”
That project was – you guessed it – Ratatouille the musical! “I had a two hour Zoom rehearsal with the music team and a two hour Zoom rehearsal with the dance department. Then they sent us rat ears and chef’s hats!”
JJ also shared with us his experience on the stage and his dream production that unfortunately is put on hold for now. Plus, find out where he gets his ideas for his viral TikTok series’ and how he’s been spending his time since the pandemic started. Listen to the full interview with JJ Niemann below!