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BW grad's musical 'Dusk' shines bright at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

From BW classrooms to the largest theater festival in the world, Daniel Ruffing's original "Twilight" parody prepares to return to Scotland after a sold-out debut.

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Daniel Ruffing '21

Baldwin Wallace University arts management & entrepreneurship graduate Daniel Ruffing '21 saw his original "Twilight" parody musical "Dusk: A Bite-Size Love Story" become an international sensation at the 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Now, he and his "insanely talented co-writer Morgan Kennedy" are busy preparing to return to Edinburgh Fringe later this year.

Cultivating his craft at BW

During his time at BW, Ruffing honed his skills as a composer and marketer. As he put it, "I had a concert of my works performed by students in my junior year called 'He's Lost His Marbles' and had two concerts at the prestigious Feinstein's/54 Below venue in New York City showcasing music performed by BW music theatre majors." 

Ruffing's online songs, including a viral series for YouTuber Jenna Marbles that she featured on her channel, further established his reputation as a talented young composer.

dusk_logo-350.pngMoving to a bigger stage

Ruffing shared, "Because of all of that, I was asked to write the music for a 'Twilight' parody musical called 'Dusk: A Bite-Size Love Story,' which had a workshop in Erie, Pennsylvania, earlier this year and a world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe."

Utilizing his BW arts management experience, Ruffing built a huge Instagram and TikTok following for the show @dusk_musical. "I have been running the TikTok account for the musical, too, using my arts management skills to get over 50,000 followers and weekly viral videos on the account."

Sell-out smash success

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The lead actors in "Dusk: A Bite-Size Love Story" on stage at the 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe 

"All of this led to marketing the show for Edinburgh Fringe, resulting in us completely selling out all of our performances and then having to add new dates/times that also immediately sold out," Ruffing reports. "We were told that this is INCREDIBLY rare for a first-time Fringe production."

Major publications like Playbill covered the show's runaway success, and the production was nominated for both the 2023 OffFest Award for Musicals and the 2023 BroadwayWorld UK/West End Award for Best New Production of a Musical.

Ruffing told Playbill, "It's always been a huge dream of mine to perform at Edinburgh Fringe. Two of my favorite shows, 'Six' and 'Fleabag,' got their starts at the festival … Fringe is a great place to test out material and have the opportunity to get your work in front of amazing audiences and incredible producers and reviewers, so it was a natural next step in our development process!"

What's next?

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Daniel Ruffing '21 (sitting front row, far left) with the cast and crew of "Dusk: A Bite-Size Love Story" at the 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

During the Fringe run, Ruffing and the cast were able to capture the performance on film to create a pro-shot movie version as well as record an official cast album.

The film was picked up for digital run at the 2024 Adelaide Fringe festival in Australia and can be purchased at duskmusical.vhx.tv.

Looking ahead, Ruffing shared, "I am very excited to announce that we will be returning to Edinburgh Fringe this year with a new version of 'Dusk' as well as to preview a new musical in development."

Mentorship that mattered

Looking back, Ruffing credits BW for providing "invaluable experience in all aspects of producing and promoting shows" through the arts management program and mentors like Bryan Bowser and Sean Murphy.

He also says his semester studying abroad at York St. John University in England influenced his decision to pursue a master's degree there after graduating from BW.

The distinct blend of creative and business skills Ruffing developed allowed this young alumnus to make a big splash right out of college with his debut musical.

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