If you've spent any time on TikTok as a theatre fan recently, you probably already know about the newest viral musical making the rounds. No, not Ratatouille. The Pyramid: A Dance Moms Parody Musical.
You heard correctly. Lifetime's outrageous 2011 reality series—about the dance teacher from hell, Abby Lee Miller, her young students (including Maddie Ziegler, whose fame has skyrocketed since being introduced to the world on the series), and, of course, their titular moms—is getting the parody musical treatment, courtesy of composer James Stryska, lyricist Isabel Grace, and co-book writers Erica Molfetto and Molly Russo.
The team launched the project with "My Little Kendall," satirizing dance mom Jill Vertes last month, and followed that up with "Welcome to the Candy Apples," focused on Abby Lee's arch nemesis dance company. Both songs immediately took off on TikTok and music streaming services, even getting the attention of the Dance Moms cast—Jill, Christi, Abby, and others have all commented on the musical's social media posts.
But now, they've released the big kahuna. In the title number, "The Pyramid," the audience is introduced to the biggest baddie of them all, everyone's favorite ruthless dance teacher (not to mention convicted felon) Abby Lee Miller. Listen to "The Pyramid" below.
And that means the team is now getting into elements of Dance Moms that can be a little tricky in the current moment. The series was, after all, primarily women screaming at each other. In the years since the show has left the airwaves—the final season wrapped up in 2019—discourse around the series has turned to the often problematic ways it depicts women, which is being constantly at odds with each other. Miller, often the center of criticism for her sharp tongue and harsh standards, was forced to publicly apologize in 2020 after a former cast member publicly detailed racist behavior during the series' filming, on and off the screen.
But the team is ready to address all of this head on, even while keeping audiences laughing. "Because we're doing a parody musical, we have lots of free range," shares Grace. "We are referencing these characters, but we also get to have commentary on top of that. [Addressing questions like] how was what happened not okay, and how can we use comedy and our voice to highlight that?"
Book writers Molfetto and Russo are focused on capturing Miller's humanity behind the reality TV caricature. "There's this person that has been deemed a monster, but is still a person," says Russo. "We have to navigate the balance of making her intense—but there's still a human on the other side." Adds Molfetto: "I've been watching [Miller's] YouTube vlogs, and there doesn't seem to be any sense of remorse. She believes in every single thing she says, which is as endearing as it is fucked up. She's really committing to her bit when she doesn't even think it's a bit."
As for musicalizing the iconic character, Stryska says he's focused on giving her power by slowing her down. "Abby's entrance is the first time in the show where we're almost at a pause," Stryska explains. "That's just how she is on the show. Whenever she walks in the room, she's the person in charge." After the fast-paced patter of songs like "My Little Kendall," Stryska hopes this different mood helps accentuate Miller for her entrance.
As for what's next, the team is light on details—"we don't want to promise anything that we can't deliver," says Grace. The work's first public performance is planned for May 31 at 54 Below, where two songs will debut as part of a concert titled Make 'Em Laugh: Songs, Parodies, and Comedy.
"We have big dreams for this project," Grace tells us. "We're still working out the details, but we want it to go as far as it can. Because fans are streaming, that's what gives us momentum."
"Please keep streaming, because we need the money," adds Molfetto with a laugh.
We'll just have to keep watching to see if this show gets its solo at nationals—we mean a full-out, no-marking NYC stage debut, of course.