Meet the Creators Behind the Bridgerton Musical That's All Over the Internet

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Andrea Wurzburger
·6 min read
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Move over Ratatouille, there's a new TikTok musical in town.

Bridgerton — recently named Netflix's "biggest show ever" by the streaming giant — is getting a musical makeover thanks to 22-year-old Abigail Barlow and 19-year-old Emily Bear.

PEOPLE caught up with the young writing duo, who took one viral TikTok and turned it into a full-on musical that people cannot stop talking about (or humming along with), via Zoom.

Igor Kasynanuk

After binge-watching the show alongside 82 million other households across the world, Barlow was inspired to give it the imaginary musical treatment after hearing a single line of dialogue, spoked by Lord Henry Granville (played by Julian Ovenden): "You have no idea what it's like to be in a room with someone you can't live without, and feel like they're oceans away from you."

"If that's not a song, I don't know what it is," Barlow tells PEOPLE. "That's kind of the thing that just stuck with me." Inspired, Barlow released a snippet of her song into the ether of TikTok.

That was just two weeks ago, and the video has since spread with the fervor of one of Lady Whistledown's society papers. "Ocean's Away," went viral, and Barlow followed it up with a duet between Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page).

"Burn for You," with its catchy tune and beautiful harmonies, has garnered 4.5 million views, 764,000 likes and has been duetted by countless users.

That's when Barlow contacted Bear, whom you might recognize from her appearances on Ellen as a child. Then dubbed a prodigy, Bear has been composing ever since, studying classical and jazz piano and composition at Julliard and New York University. She also counts Quincy Jones as her mentor.

But this isn't the first time Barlow and Bear have worked together. A year-and-a-half ago, they were introduced by a friend who wanted them to write together for another musical and they agree that they just "clicked." (Prior to their overnight success with Bridgerton, the pair were writing a musical adaptation of The Bling Ring.)

"When this opportunity arose, I knew she was the only person that I could work with for it," Barlow says.

Bear adds, "I do have to say, I'm very picky, and the second she sent me the song that she started and said to me, 'Oh my God, Emily, what if we push it as a musical?' I was like, 'Yes!' "

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of their partnership is their process. The duo has taken to sharing their work live with their followers, streaming on TikTok and Instagram and showing transparency in their writing process, which isn't often shared by creatives. The women liken it to workshopping a musical in real-time.

Igor Kasynanuk

Often, Bear explains, "When someone is writing a musical or something along the lines of this, it's very secretive. You're writing it underground basically for years, and it takes years to develop. When it's finally out for everyone to hear, no one knows the story, no one knows the songs. There's something really cool about seeing people's reactions, seeing what they like, and also seeing what they don't like."

Barlow chimes in, "It's important because not only do we want to feel confident and good about what we've written, but we also want the audience to love it."

Bear adds, "If this ever comes to a stage, people will know the songs inside and out because they were a part of the process."

"Whenever you step into a room with a collaborator, you have to check your ego at the door, because you have to be open to new ideas and trashing your own ideas when you need to," Bear says. But their sessions aren't always just the two of them, and with thousands tuning into their livestreams (which sometimes occur multiple times per day) they often look to their fans, who give them suggestions and are quick to tell them what they like and dislike about whatever catchy number they're writing.

More impressive than writing live, even, is their ability to do so while engaging with their audiences, sometimes stopping to explain their choices and then continuing to create.

It's not always polished and perfect. Bear says, "We enjoy sharing the process, and I think people enjoy watching because we're not hiding the ugly bits. They see women are struggling to rhyme a word for 20 minutes, tuning vocals for 30 minutes, so painstakingly. Honestly, I don't know why they're enjoying it, but–"

Barlow finishes her sentence, "We love that they do."

To date, they've written 11 songs for a production, for characters from Penelope Featherington to Queen Charlotte.

While they are focused on creating as much content as possible, the pair are not immune to a fangirl moment here and there. It has, after all, only been a few weeks since this whirlwind started.

Barlow says one of the more "mind-boggling" moments for her was having "all of the cast members that I watched on screen two weeks ago, just DM-ing us and asking for the full songs."

They say Dynevor (who plays Daphne), Nicola Coughlan (who plays Penelope) and Luke Newton (who plays Colin Bridgerton) have all either watched their Instagram Lives or messaged them. The author of the Bridgerton book series, Julia Quinn, has also reached out to them.

And they've spent some time thinking about their dream cast. Julie Andrews, the show's Gossip Girl-esque narrator, is at the top of the list, as is Patina Miller as Lady Danbury and Cynthia Erivo as Queen Charlotte. "We would die," Barlow says. "Truly pass away," Bear adds.

They're also not opposed to having the original cast on board. They point out that Jonathan Bailey (Anthony Birdgerton) has an Olivier Award, and add, "So many of them have the most ridiculous voices."

"If Regé-Jean Page wants to be Simon, be my guest, sir," adds Bear. Barlow admits, "I'd give my left arm to sing a duet with him."

So what's next for the possible Bridgerton musical? Well, apart from a knowing glance between the two when asked, the pair stay relatively vague about their adaptation's future. "The world is definitely listening, and that also means the executives are also listening, and we have a lot of possible roads that we could go down," Bear says diplomatically.

For now, the pair are continuing to create "We have a lot of songs and musicals that we want to write in the future," they say. "There's a lot of storytelling left in us."