Roving theater troupe to host first full season in downtown Ypsi

The roving Roustabout Theatre Troupe will present its first full season in 2019 at the Ypsi Experimental Space (YES), 8 N. Washington St. in downtown Ypsilanti.


For the past three years the troupe has been traveling and performing all over southeast Michigan, including many productions in Milan. Troupe cofounder and Milan resident Joseph Zettelmaier says while Roustabout was intended to travel and be mobile, the troupe is very excited to call Ypsi its home base for the next year.


"We're right in the heart of downtown, which is great," says Zettelmaier. "We've performed in Ypsilanti a few times and have really enjoyed it."


Zettelmaier and Joey Albright created Roustabout three years ago over a dinner conversation in Ypsi. The troupe is named after a kind of circus worker who is responsible for setting up and tearing down the grounds. The name appealed to Zettelmaier and Albright because they wanted to dedicate themselves to doing the hard work, even if it's behind the scenes.


Roustabout's goal is to showcase the works of Michigan artists, though the troupe does stage works by non-Michigan creators as well.


Roustabout will present its first 2019 production, Mad as a Hatter, in April. Written by Michigan playwright Michael Alan Herman, the characters of Wonderland are introduced in a real-world scenario, as everyday people serve as Lewis Carroll's inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


In July, the troupe will perform Big Daddy Shakespeare, a combination of Shakespeare's sonnets and excerpts exploring what it's like to be a parent from Shakespeare's perspective. The production will be adapted and directed by Anna Simmons.


To complete the season, Roustabout will present Zettelmaier's Haunted: The Great Lakes Ghost Project in October. This work is a compilation of Michigan ghost stories, depicting one person's journey through the supernatural to consider the existence of ghosts.


Zettelmaier says he is looking forward to the upcoming season and the opportunity to work in Ypsi.


"I'm really excited about getting to know Ypsilanti," Zettelmaier says. "It's a vibrant and active community – they really support small-town business. We love getting to know the city and want to work ourselves into the framework of Ypsi."


Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at

Photo by Josie Eli Lapczynski, courtesy of Roustabout Theatre Troupe.
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