Hannibal’s Bluff City Theater has become a significant regional theater
when judged by the caliber of directors and actors who trek to America’s Hometown,
and the public has responded with 25 percent audience growth in 2016.
The theater’s 2017 season includes two musicals, Tennessee Williams’ “The
Glass Menagerie” and Bernard Sabath’s most successful work, set in Hannibal. The
opener is “Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters’ First Hundred Years.”
Executive Director Joe Anderson says the season’s theme is “families —
those we’re born into, those we choose and those into which we’re thrust by
“When I’m crafting a season, I start with one play that I want to do, then
examine its themes, and choose a dominant idea to explore. This year, I wanted
to bring in the American Premiere of ‘Emily: The Musical’ directed by Jennifer
Stewart, who has directed two ... productions [here] in the past — ‘The Heiress’
in 2015 and ‘Best of Enemies’ in 2016.
“‘Emily’ explores several themes, including youth and the dreams we all
hold, but the most important message is how home and family can draw us
back even after we leave to pursue our dreams. Something in that resonated
with me about Hannibal, because so many people here have done just that —
moved away to pursue career or other opportunities only to find themselves pulled back later in life.”
Anderson said that the troupe each year tries new ideas.
“In 2017, we’ve added a second musical, staging it in such a way that the
audience almost becomes part of the show. I think we’re going to deliver a really
balanced program that includes something for everyone. Theater should be fun
and engaging but also cause us to stop and think about the world around us,”
“Having Our Say” is the story of sisters Sadie and Bessie Delaney, who have a
mutual love and respect that help them face adversity.
“C’est La Vie” partners a trio of BCT alumni. Directed by John Contini
(“Gertrude Stein and a Companion” and “You Caught Me Dancing”) and starring
Taylor Pietz (Nancy in “Oliver!” and Lavinia in “The Heiress”) with Felicia
Dinwiddie (Ann Atwater in “Best of Enemies”), it introduces Fatiguee and
Dominique, two aging chanteuses. The theater will become a nightclub; some
audience members may be seated around or even on the stage.
Hannibal loves Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. But once Mark Twain wrote
his final chapter, what became of the boys? This imagining fills in the missing
years. “The Boys in Autumn” will be at Nipper Park. The set is the front of Huck’s
riverfront cabin, in sight of Shuck Island, where the boys hid as the city dragged
the river for their bodies.
Anderson says “Emily: The Musical” originally was commissioned for
Charlottetown Festival at Canada’s Prince Edward Island and was adapted for
the small stage by Talk is Free Theater, where he served nine years as board
“I first met Jennifer Stewart, the director, when she performed the role of
Ilse, Emily’s best friend, at Talk is Free in Barrie, Canada. It’s come full circle
to have her back this year doing a play that is near and dear to both of us, ”
“The Glass Menagerie” is the quintessential story of a dysfunctional family.
Tom, bound to his passive-aggressive mother and a handicapped sister, yearns
to follow his mythic father who abandoned the family. Only by finding someone
to take care of his sister can he be free, and he invites a work-mate to meet her
in the hope they will connect romantically.
“This is the play that launched Williams’ career in theater,” Anderson said.
“It’s performed all over the world but the fact that it’s set in St. Louis gives it
special meaning here in Missouri.”
Bluff City Theater 2017 subscriptions are available
online or by calling the box office. Subscriptions to all five
plays is $99 if bought before December. After Dec. 1 the
price is $115. Tickets to individual shows, available online,
are $26 for adults and $15 for those younger than 18.
Box office info: bluffcitytheater.com or at 573-719-
3226. The theater is at 212 Broadway