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The Night Falls

Book and lyrics by Karen Russell | Music and lyrics by Ellis Ludwig-Leone
Choreographed and directed by Troy Schumacher


Three Artists, Each Acclaimed for Their Inventive Work in Different Disciplines, Join Forces in This Lyrical and Haunting Dance-Driven Music Theatre Production.

A new myth for our fractured era, choreographed and directed by Troy Schumacher (NYC Ballet and BalletCollective), with book and lyrics by Karen Russell (Swamplandia!), music and lyrics by Ellis Ludwig-Leone (San Fermin), staged for nine dancers, eight singers, and a chamber music ensemble.

All across America, people on the brink of despair begin to have the same nightmare. A song will not leave their heads–terribly beautiful music. Its victims include Felis Robles, a Queens, NY teenager whose boyfriend has recently died. Night after night, Felis dreams of three women transformed into monstrous birds. They sing to him in his sleep, beckoning him to join them at “The Night Falls,” an abandoned Floridian roadside attraction built around a sublime grotto and home to the world’s eeriest echoes and the concert hall of the “Sirens.” Desperate to learn why this song is haunting him–and desperate to hear it again–Felis makes the trip to the Night Falls Grotto. When he arrives, he discovers he is not alone.

Within a group of suffers from all walks of American life–among them, an athlete whose spirit is ravaged by a very public downfall, a mother who lost her daughter to addiction, and a lapsed python hunter–The Night Falls depicts the metamorphosis of atomized individuals into a true community. With choreography that dramatizes the leap of empathy between bodies and music that channels the polarities of surrender and resistance. The Night Falls shows the visceral power of art to brace us against the abyss of despair.

Composer and Co-Lyricist by Ellis Ludwig-Leone
Librettist and Co-Lyricist Karen Russell
Set Designer Jason Ardizzone-West
Associate Set Designer Kenny Duecker
Costume Designer Karen Young
Co-Lighting Designer Amith Chandrashaker
Co-Lighting Designer Abigail Hoke-Brady
Contributing Visual Artist Harold Garcia V
Projections Hannah Tran
Sound Designer Garth MacAleavey
Music Director Naomi Woo
Director and Choreographer Troy Schumacher
(Artistic Director for BalletCollective; Soloist New York City Ballet)

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Karen Russell (book/lyrics) A native of Miami, Russell won the 2012 and the 2018 National Magazine Award for fiction, and her first novel, Swamplandia!, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. She is a graduate of the Columbia MFA program, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2012 Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, and was a recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 2013. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, The New York Times, and the Best American Short Stories anthologies, and honored by the National Book Award’s 5 under 35 program and the New Yorker’s 20 under 40″ issue. Russell is also the author of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories, and Sleep Donation: A Novella, and the forthcoming story collection Orange World. She lives with her husband and son in Portland, Oregon.

Ellis Ludwig-Leone was lauded by The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino for his “knack for simultaneously expressing beauty and crisis,” Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s music exists in the fine margins between euphoria and dread. Having come to international attention as the songwriter behind the celebrated band San Fermin, Ludwig-Leone has spent the last decade balancing his work as a songwriter with a robust career composing works for many of today’s contemporary classical luminaries. The 2022-23 season brings the premiere and album release of False We Hope, performed by the Grammy-winning Attacca Quartet and soprano Eliza Bagg (Roomful of Teeth); as well as the premiere of The Night Falls, with a libretto by Ludwig-Leone and Karen Russell (Swamplandia!), and direction and choreography from Troy Schumacher (New York City Ballet), at PEAK Performances @ Montclair State University. This season will also see the premiere of Daphne, a musical drama for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus with a libretto by Russell; the premiere and subsequent European tour of Past Life for harpist Lavinia Meijer and violist Nadia Sirota; and the premiere of a new work for choreographer Danielle Rowe and the Grand Rapids Ballet. Together with his bandmate Allen Tate, Ludwig-Leone is a founding partner of Better Company Records, a Brooklyn-based label with an emphasis on collaboration. He is a recipient of residencies from MacDowell and Banff Centre for the Arts.

Troy Schumacher (director/choreographer) is a Bessie-nominated American choreographer, dancer, and director living in New York, NY. His athletic aesthetic draws upon the artists he collaborates with to produce fresh, unexpected results. He is a soloist dancer with New York City Ballet and the founder of BalletCollective. He has been dubbed a “visionary artist” by T Magazine and is “one of his generation’s most acclaimed choreographers” (PBS). Schumacher’s work has been presented by New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Performa, Danspace Project, Guggenheim Works & Process, Guggenheim Bilbao, PEAK Performances at Montclair State University, the Joyce Theater, the Savannah Music Festival, and NYU Skirball Center, among others. He has collaborated with many artists including Jeff Koons, Karen Russell, Zaria Forman, Thom Browne, Ken Liu, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, Maddie Ziegler, and David Salle. In addition, to live performances, Schumacher has choreographed numerous art, fashion, and commercial shoots, including works for Google, Sony PlayStation, Capezio, HP, Aritzia, CR Fashion Book, Tom Ford, and The New York Times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Schumacher created, directed, and produced the first live world premiere ballets in the US: the one-act Natural History and the full-length Nutcracker at Wethersfield. For more info, visit troyschumacher.com




pdf program peak performances


The Night Falls

Book and lyrics by Karen Russell | Music and lyrics by Ellis Ludwig-Leone
Choreographed and directed by Troy Schumacher
For hi-res photos please contact: peakmktg@montclair.edu

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new york times
February 10, 2023 | Esquire Magazine: Karen Russell Is Resisting Despair

new york times
February 3, 2023 | New York Times: “A Song and Dance Collaboration, Straight Outta Swamplandia”

dance informia magazine
February 11, 2023 | NJArts: “BalletCollective’s new ‘The Night Falls’ tells a bold, timely story”

dance informia magazine
“Pushing boundaries of form: Troy Schumacher and ‘The Night Falls’”

Guggenheim Museum
January 22, 2023 – 7:30 – 8:30PM EST
Guggenheim Museum: Works & Process: The Night Falls by Karen Russell, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, and Troy Schumacher | Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum



Co-produced by BalletCollective, Inc., and PEAK Performances at Montclair State University. The Night Falls was developed during a Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals 2018 residency and further support was provided during a virtual creative residency in 2021. This season was made possible, in part, by the Alexander Kasser Theater Endowment Fund, PEAK Patrons, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

new jersey arts council