St. Paul grad’s musical to debut in NYC

Cary Ashby • Aug 16, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Not many people have bragging rights for being an award-winning songwriter. Even less can say their musical debuted in New York City.

But that’s the case with Daniel Ruffing, who graduated from St. Paul High School last year. The son of Tom and Tiina has written a spy-based musical with fellow Baldwin Wallace University student Noah Meaux, of Annapolis, Md.

“Secrets” will debut Dec. 22 at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York. Ruffing describes the venue as a “cabaret-style restaurant” that is similar to a Broadway dinner theater.

Writing for the musical started in October.

“We are kinda testing the waters before we go,” said Ruffing, a sophomore arts management major at Baldwin Wallace. “Right now we have 15 songs written.”

When “Secrets” debuts, it won’t be presented in its final form, but what Ruffing calls “a musical in concert.” He and Beaux will describe the scenes that happen between the songs.

“It’s going to be piano and vocals,” Ruffing said. “The script is pretty much complete, but we are polishing (the) lyrics and some of the jokes.”

Ruffing composed the music while Meaux concentrated on the lyrics.

In the 34th annual Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, Ruffing earned honorable mention for his fully orchestrated instrumental “Journey.” Primarily it features piano, harp, strings and brass. The Songwriter's Association of Washington holds the international contest.

As a St. Paul student, Ruffing was involved in nearly every musical ensemble. He played baritone in the concert, marching and pep bands and the pit orchestra. In the jazz band and choir, Ruffing played piano.

When asked to describe “Secrets,” Ruffing said it’s “Austin Powers meets James Bond” with some parody.

“We make fun of the clichés,” he added. “It’s mostly action and mostly drama.”

Meaux and Ruffing heard about Feinstein’s/54 Below through the musical community and approached employees about staging “Secrets” for its debut.

“We had to provide a plot description and some song samples,” Ruffing said.

The pair has shared samples of the musical on YouTube. Find them by searching “Daniel Ruffing.”

“We also have an Instagram page where we post all of our songs,” he said.

The “Secrets” Instagram account is @secretsmusical.

Ruffing was asked what he is feeling, knowing an audience will experience the musical in person.

“I’m obviously nervous, but I’m also eager,” he said.

Overall, Ruffing said he and Meaux have received positive feedback, people have enjoyed the songs and what little criticism they’ve gotten has been constructive.

“They all are entitled to their opinion, so that’s fine,” Ruffing said. “This is a dream come true. It’s not literally on Broadway, but steps away. It’s very exciting and it’s a dream come true.”

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