New local theater troop to present 'Beaver's Long Strange Trip'

A young theater movement has given rise to many new theaters around Ypsilanti including Mix, Dreamland Theater and the newest member, The Neighborhood Theatre Group.

On Friday, June 5, at 7:30 p.m., The Neighborhood Theatre Group will present a reading of Beaver’s Long Strange Trip at the Back Office Studio (BOS) located at 13 N. Washington Street.

Doors will open at 7 p.m. across the street from Mix’s small intimate theater on Washington Street in Downtown Ypsilanti. The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted.

The Beaver’s Long Strange Trip reading will be a stop on the first Friday of Ypsilanti Art Crawl if you want to stop by the local galleries on the way.

The BOS, according to Kristin Anne Danko, the show’s creator, is a larger raw space that seats about 100 people.

“I would love to do more shows there. We will be mobile our first season and would like to have our own space within a year or two and funding is a biggie,” said Danko.

Danko described the Back Office Studio as extremely supportive and she expressed high hopes of getting students out to see the theater. The Beaver’s Long Strange Trip show has a cast of 10 members and a four-person band.

The production’s music is by EMU senior music therapy major, Bradley James Drozdowski. It will feature piano, drums, bass, guitar and vocals set in the 1960’s.

Beaver’s Long Strange Trip is a new work that will be a staged reading and parody of the 1950’s to 1960’s Television show Leave it to Beaver. The June 5 reading will be the first draft of the musical with aims to stage the musical in March of 2016. Actors will have scripts in front of them and appropriate costuming.

The Neighborhood Theater Group is exploring the roots of the current culture wars going on today and the big impact of the 1960’s on the world in which we live today. The show starts four years after the original Leave it to Beaver show ended with the old characters, plus new ones.

The show is a graduate production of Danko, who holds a M.A. in arts administration from Eastern Michigan University. The show’s Literary Manager is Aaron Dean. Both Danko and Dean come from Chicago’s experimental theater scene. Dean has a B.A. in theater from Michigan State University.

“We would like to be a resident theater company with their own space in Ypsilanti that uses original work and ideas. We would like to do shows for Ypsilanti and about Ypsilanti’s history,” said Danko.

Danko also expressed interest in doing sketch comedy, having a space for other theater companies and uniting with the theater community. The Neighborhood Theatre Group has the mission to make theater accessible through collaborations with people and to work on artistic challenges and new ideas.

First Fridays Ypsilanti, The Back Office Studio, and the student organization AMP sponsor the staged reading of Beaver’s Long Strange Trip. For more information please visit them on Facebook at, on Instagram at @NeighborhoodTheatreGroup, or contact them through email at   

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