Taco Bell's TikTok Musical With Dolly Parton and Doja Cat Is Finally Happening
UPDATE 9/16: "Mexican Pizza: The Musical" debuted Thursday night. It served up gooey slices of brand-boosting goofiness in pre-recorded bits from Dolly and Doja, plus live numbers starring other cast members. You can watch all three acts of the performance and read our original event preview below:
Mexican Pizza: The Musical, Act 1♬ original sound - tacobell
@tacobell Replying to @tacobell ♬ original sound - tacobell
@tacobell Replying to @tacobell ♬ original sound - tacobell
Here's the original story:
In March, Doja Cat proclaimed her undying passion for Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza in a tuneful TikTok plea imploring the Yum-owned fast-feeder to reinstate the menu item. Tonight (Sept. 15), Doja and millions of fans will get all their wish—Broadway style!
"Mexican Pizza: The Musical," a 15-minute extravaganza featuring Doja and Dolly Parton drops live at 8 p.m. ET exclusively on the brand's TikTok channel.
Doja's celebration of her 2 a.m. snack staple—crammed with beef and beans between tostada shells, topped by onions, cheese and red sauce—became a national sensation:
TikToker Victor Kunda tossed in a suggestion for choreography based on Cat's bouncy beats, and his clip promptly went viral:
Mexican Pizza: The Musical by Doja Cat.♬ original sound - VICTOR KUNDA
Taco Bell got the message and added the dish to its permanent menu, announcing a live show based on Doja and Kunda's music and moves. Parton, the country music mega-legend, who, it turns out, loves Mexican Pizza too, would headline. Alas, that plan, scheduled for May, crashed when the chain exhausted its supply of pizzas in just a few weeks and subsequently postponed the musical.
But the show, and delish dish, must go on. Both return Thursday, with Dolly supported in the production by Kunda, Grammy winners Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear (who wrote three original songs from a script by Hannah Friedman), Doja (who provides "special moments," we're told—it's unclear if she'll take the stage), plus various fans and influencers.
Deutsch LA helped create the event, set to hit the boards at an undisclosed NTC theater. The plot revolves around a "harrowing yet epic love story of the fans who fought to bring back the Mexican Pizza, told in a hyperbolic, funny and entertaining way," per press materials.
Look, it's got Dolly Parton. Singing about sizzling heaps of spicy, cheesy, saucy, beany goodness. Sounds like a must-see to me!
Below, we chat with Deutsch associate strategy director Sara Singh about project development and what to expect once the virtual curtain rises:
Muse: Take us through how it all came together.
Sara Singh: After Doja Cat posted her "jingle" back in March, which garnered 39.3 million views on TikTok, fans started using the track in all kinds of creative ways. One fan in particular, Victor Kunda, used it to make a spoof video pretending to lead a rehearsal for "Mexican Pizza: The Musical by Doja Cat." More fans started joining with him by duetting his video, pretending to be part of the show. After seeing that, we knew we had to make this musical a real thing.
How did Dolly get involved?
Dolly is a longtime fan of the brand and has always been vocal about that, especially recently. During an interview with Business Insider, she expressed her love for the Mexican Pizza and asked that it get brought back to the menu. Her story was one fan truth, among many, we portrayed in the musical. She injected her charming personality throughout the experience. She worked closely with Barlow and Bear to make sure their vision for her parts was perfectly executed.
Did the postponement impact the project?
It allowed us to engage even more fans and create a bonus third act with the help of Barlow and Bear to celebrate the return of the item to the menu.
When we watch tonight, what will we see? A fully produced live show with a band, singers and dancers?
We wanted to bring a saga to life in a way that would pay homage to all the fans who were very persistent in letting us know how much they loved and wanted the Mexican Pizza back. So, we created a satirical, self-aware musical that shows what fans did—from trolling every post on Taco Bell's social accounts for the past two years to creating petitions.
The musical consists of three acts that take us through the story, which is told primarily through song. We follow our lead character, Victor, as he goes on a journey of loss when Mexican Pizza leaves the menu. We see him come together with other fans including Barlow and Bear and a very pissed off "internet" played by 12 ensemble cast members and several real-life Mexican Pizza fans. They're eventually successful in their efforts and Mexican Pizza returns to the menu forever.
Sounds like a tale of branded triumph, to be sure.
The musical doesn't take itself too seriously. But the music itself is incredibly written and performed. The three songs are definite earworms.
The scale is different, but comparisons to Skittles' hour-long Super Bowl musical from 2019 seem inevitable. Can you discuss why doing high-profile live activations music makes sense for Taco Bell?
Fans play an incredibly important role of in defining Taco Bell's brand identity, and a lot of what we do is in service of those fans. In that sense, the idea was born from our brand ethos. It wasn't born from "Hey, let's do a musical and get some PR." It was born from "Hey, check out this fan [Kunda] with an amazing idea, let's bring it to life in a big way by putting some of the best talent together to make it great."
Music has always been a huge part of Taco Bell's DNA and some of our biggest moments that have resonated in culture have been around music. So, writing and creating a musical was a natural extension of this for us. And bringing the musical as a Live premiere streaming on social media gives us the opportunity to bring fans together in a unique way on a platform in which the idea was born: TikTok.
Chief Brand Officer: Sean Tresvant
VP, Brand Marketing: Taylor Montgomery
Sr. Director, Brand Creative: Ashley Prollamante
Sr. Manager, Brand Creative: Amanda Barbosa
Sr. Associate Manager, Advertising: Chelle Toulouse
Head Of Social: Nicole Weltman
Associate Manager, Social Media: Erika Prime
Social Media Coordinator: Milo Simpson
Food Consultant: Carolyn Avelino
Group Account Director: Matt Matzen
Social Account Director: Katy Wellhousen
Account Director: Natalie Brock
Social Partnerships Manager: Racine Drageset
Account Supervisor: Allie Plantery
Account Executive: Daniela Chang
Account Coordinator: Sami Rohde
Executive Creative Director: Matt Ian
Creative Director: Stephanie Kohnen
Senior Copywriter: Matt Garcia
Senior Art Director: Kevin Descardes
Copywriter: Walker Pfost
Art Director: Ashley Cardwell
Copywriter: Andrews Steel
Art Director: Thomas Raybell
Social Strategy Director: Lauren Murphy
Associate Strategy Director: Sara Singh
Social Media Manager: Cat Killedjian
Executive Producer: Paul Roy
Senior Producer: Lucy Herzog
Producer: Olivia Baker
Social Producer: Joanne Yun
Digital Producer: Chanel Raquel
Associate Digital Producer: Kristen Escobar
Music Director: Chip Herter
Music Supervisor: Will Eichler
Director of Business Affairs: Gabriela Farias
Executive Business Affairs Manager: Biba Millstein
Business Affairs Manager: Daniel Gerena
The Syndicate: Music Agency
Jon Landman, CEO / Managing Partner
Graham Rothenberg, GM
Jeff Kilgour, SVP / Business Development
Brendan Bourke, Sr. Director of Publicity
Julia Galvin, Director of Marketing
Nick Martini - founder / ceo of stept
Mac Hedges - head of production
Brendan Varni - executive producer
Camila Cornelsen - Director / dp
Amy Hillner Larson - Choreographer
Andrea Bernick -Line Producer
Amy Saunders – Head of Post Production & Operations
Heather Stanic – Sr Post Producer
Courtney Kolloff – Post Producer
Monica Arnold – Sr Post Producer
Editor – Winnie Cheung
Assistant Editor – HJ Chong
Director of Motion Graphics – Andrea Senise
Mixer – Cayce Sylvester
Colorist - Brandon Chavez
Nashville Production Company: NOZ Entertainment
Executive Producer - Danny Nozell
Producer - Olly Rowland
Dolly Parton Creative Director - Steve Summers
Music and Lyrics by Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear.
Vocals produced by: Abigail Barlow, Emily Bear, and Juan Ariza
Produced by: Juan Ariza and Emily Bear
Vocal arrangement by: Abigail Barlow
Creative Production & Audio Post:
BUTTER Music and Sound
Executive Producer: Annick Mayer
CCO: Andrew Sherman
Sr Producer: Stone Irr
Final Mix: Robbie Gardunio
Mr. Bronx Audio Post
Audio Post: David Wolfe
Executive Producer: Hanna Choi
Hannah Friedman - Playwright
Juan Ariza - Music Composer
Caci Cole Pritchett
Joy Lynn Pringle
Michael B. Wang