MEN ON BOATS, about JW Powell's First Trip Down The Colorado, Opens Next Month

The True(ish) Men on Boats runs May 17—June 9, 2024

By: Apr. 27, 2024
MEN ON BOATS, about JW Powell's First Trip Down The Colorado, Opens Next Month
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Theatrikos Theatre Company brings Arizona-born playwright Jaclyn Backhaus' Men on Boats to the Flagstaff stage.  The show about John Wesley Powell's first trip through the Grand Canyon has been produced nationwide.  Now, for the first time, it comes home to Northern Arizona with a production by Theatrikos in Flagstaff.

Men on Boats.  No men.  No boats.  One canyon.  Highlighting underrepresented voices and inspired by Powell's actual travel logs, this whitewater comedy is history as you've never seen it before—infusing America's historic myths with a sly blast of satire.

“I think the audience will enjoy seeing a show that takes place in their own ‘backyard,'” said director Sara Bendel Ryan.  “While not exactly historically accurate, Men on Boats is a retelling of Powell's journey that is interesting, engaging and comical.”

“Men on Boats is the quintessential Flagstaff show.  The perfect combination of amazing theatre and Northern Arizona history,” said Chris Verrill, Theatrikos executive director.

“I'm so pleased to hear you're doing Men on Boats—in the perfect location no less! As an Arizona-born artist I'm always very moved when theaters in AZ are doing my work,” said playwright Jaclyn Backhaus

“Early explorers in the canyon had a rough go of it; every day was a new adventure as Powell's group was the first to map the area, the undammed Colorado was wild and free, and it was extremely dangerous,” said Ryan.  “For Men on Boats we are collaborating with Flagstaff boat makers, river people, musicians, NAU specialists in film communication and local artists.”

Despite the name, the cast of Men on Boats is all women or non-binary actors.  “Our cast is having a blast working together, not being explorers who are men or women—just being explorers. I think the audience will see actors who experience a grand adventure,” said Ryan.  “It is a story of exploration, not of any particular sex, just people braving the wild Colorado.”

Casting with all female and nonbinary actors allowed the playwright to create a show that embraces many nuanced perspectives.  “It became a frame through which I could examine and question the notion of the American Explorer from a new vantage point,” said playwright Backhaus.  “The piece is an exploration of survivalism and America, given to actors who are not often given the opportunity to play that kind of part, and that your theater is honoring the playwright's wishes as well as following in the legacy of the over 100 theaters that have produced the play around the country.  And all that said, I appreciate your determination and commitment to the vision of the piece”

Men on Boats is Theatrikos' primary entry into the inaugural ARTx 2024.  The last performance on June 9 is in Cottonwood.

Performances of Men on Boats are at Theatrikos in Flagstaff, May 17—June 2, 2024 and June 9 at Old Town Center for the Arts in Cottonwood.  Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm.  There's a reception on opening night.  Theatrikos' special Family Night is Thursday, May 23.  Tickets are half price on Family Night.  Our new parking lot is available for patrons at the NE corner of Cherry and Leroux.  Tickets can be purchased online at the button below, by calling 928 774 1662, or by visiting the theatre's box office, which is open from noon to 6 pm Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and two hours prior to each performance.

For more than 50 years, Theatrikos Theatre Company, an award-winning non-profit theatre embracing the spirit of Broadway, has been one of Northern Arizona's leading arts organizations. Located in the Doris Harper-White Playhouse, at 11 W Cherry Ave in historic downtown Flagstaff, the theatre proudly offers nearly 70 performances of musicals, comedies and dramas annually.


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