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Photos: GLM’s ‘Men On Boats’ takes a different look at history 


By Taylor Harker | Photos: Bob Conrad

Good Luck MacBeth’s production of “Men on Boats” showcases a diverse cast reenacting the 1869 exploration of the Grand Canyon by John Wesley Powell and his team of adventurers. 

The twist is that none of the characters are played by cisgender males.

The play has received critical acclaim for its unique and thought-provoking take on American history. Drawing inspiration from Powell’s journal entries and other historical accounts of the expedition, it incorporates modern language and humor to bring the story to life. A killer playlist is featured between scenes.

The cast of “Men on Boats” take on the roles of Powell and his crew, as well as Native Americans they encounter along the way. The play relies on the actors’ physicality and vocal performances to create a vivid and immersive experience for the audience, using minimal props and scenery.

One of the central themes of “Men on Boats” is the idea of exploration and what it means to discover new territory. Some characters are obsessed with naming a landmark after themselves, while others are there for the thrill of adventure. 

The expedition was fueled by a desire to conquer the unknown while acknowledging the violence and displacement that often accompanied such efforts. The characters face rough conditions such as limited food and resources, exhaustion and boats capsizing. Through the use of gender-blind casting, the play challenges the notion that history is exclusively the domain of white men, raising questions about whose perspectives are valued and who gets to tell stories.

The production features humor, wit and energy and takes a different approach to storytelling. It invites the audience to question how history has been taught over the years. 

 “Men on Boats” is a bold and engaging play that pushes the boundaries of theater and encourages critical thinking about history, gender and identity.


  • Written by: Jaclyn Backhaus
  • Directed by Abby Rosen

Actors and crew 

  • Major John Wesley Powell: Jessica Johnson
  • William Dunn: Claire Hachenberger
  • John Colton Sumner: Judy Davis Rounds
  • Old Shady: Liz O’Neil
  • George Bradley: Jasmine Johnson
  • O.G. Howland: Lily Perez
  • Seneca Howland: Evelyn Mejia Ronquillo
  • Frank Goodman: Michelle Calhoun
  • William Hawkins: Amanda McHenry
  • Andrew Hall: Charlie Chappell


  • Evening Show Dates: April 28, 29 at 7:30 p.m.
  • May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Matinee Show Dates: May 7 at 2 p.m. 


  • Regular: $28 per person
  • VIP: $38 per person 
  • Students: $15 per person
  • Seniors: $23 per person

Website: www.goodluckmacbeth.org

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