About us

Bluff City Theater is based in Hannibal, Missouri and was founded in 2013. An artist-driven theater company we place an emphasis on literary works that bridge the gap between books and stage. While not exclusively limited to literature, our goal will be to explore the written word through stage adaptation.

While we are primarily a producing company, we may from time-to-time present other works consistent with our artistic mandate. We seek to enhance the quality of life for residents of North-Eastern Missouri and Western Illinois by producing high-quality performances employing the best actors, directors, musicians and technicians available in an intimate setting. We commit ourselves to developing new works as well as reviving old favorites, especially those that may be forgotten, under-performed or under-appreciated.

First and foremost, we seek to entertain but our mandate extends to educating audiences and fostering a larger discussion around the works and their themes and an appreciation of the role live theater plays in propagating ideas and public discourse. As an ancillary to the primary goals, we partner with the larger arts community to, when appropriate, foster a broader exploration of themes using other forms like lecture, film and the visual arts.

Our Story

Bluff City Theater is the brainchild of Joe Anderson and Wesley Yargus.
Following Joe’s retirement in 2012 from a nearly 40-year career as a media executive, including 25 as Vice-President and Regional Publisher for Metroland Media (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), the founders undertook a road-trip that included a stop in Wesley’s childhood home of Hannibal, Missouri.

While employed at Metroland, Joe had been instrumental in helping to launch Talk is Free Theater in Barrie Ontario, Canada along with Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak. Together, they created one of Canada’s most innovative and successful small theater companies, producing numerous world-premiere plays, winning a Dora Award for best musical, co-producing with larger institutions across the country and mounting a successful European tour. The experience helped establish Barrie as a premier Canadian theater center that attracts top directors, playwrights, actors and audience from across the country for its now two professional theater companies.

Hannibal has long enjoyed tourism centered around Mark Twain, but as Joe notes, Mark Twain is a generational draw- visitors come, tour the sites and leave, not to come back for 20 years. The key to place-based cultural tourism is to develop attractions and events that bring visitors back year-after-year; that encourage them to see Hannibal a desirable place to live, invest and start businesses.

Joe and Wesley felt that a regionally-significant professional theater would be one way to build cultural infrastructure capable of supporting long-term tourism. After meeting with community leaders and conducting a series of community meet-and-greets, they decided there was sufficient support to launch in the summer of 2014.

Lacking a performing space, the theater premiered with Tales of an Urban Indian, performed entirely on a moving transit bus. A powerful and raw play about the experience of being moved to the city after growing up on a reservation, it dealt with issues of racism, teenage sex, homosexuality, alcoholism and suicide yet had a positive and uplifting message about spirituality and life. The play ran for 32 performances over six weeks and was an audience hit.

In the summer of 2014, the founders acquired the former F&M Bank building at 212 Broadway, a neo-classical style Greek revival building that had been vacant for several years. With financial, physical and in-kind support from local businesses, the building was transformed into an intimate 90-seat performing space and came into service in January 2015 with its inaugural production of Andrew Edlin’s Churchill.
BCT likes to challenge how theater is performed and has produced two shows environmentally in the derelict 1888 Federal Building at 600 Broadway and one outdoors on the banks of the Mississippi.

As of 2024, BCT has produced 40 plays including three world-premieres, two American premieres of foreign works, one outdoor production and three environmental productions where local landmarks were transformed, temporarily, into performance spaces.

Directors come from across North America. Our professional actors, while primarily St. Louis-based have also come from Los Angeles, New York City and Toronto. For at least one production a year, we put local children and youth on stage with professionals.

In 2021, concerned with the national decline in attendance at live performances of all kinds, Bluff City Theater made the decision to eliminate the financial barrier to attendance as a means of attracting greater audience diversity.  The loss in paid admissions is offset by an increase in personal donations, corporate sponsorships, grants and other fundraising activities.

Audiences continue to be amazed at the diversity, creativity and excellence of Bluff City Theater productions. One of the most common comments we hear from first-time visitors is, “I can’t believe that something this professional is happening right here in Hannibal.”


As a 501C-3 charitable corporation, we have a duty to ensure that as many of the dollars we raise each year are used to further core artistic programs. The Executive Director and all board members serve in a voluntary capacity, without compensation. Only actors, technicians and educational personnel are compensated, on a fee-for-service contract basis.

But, mounting and executing a professional theater takes much more than just the people on stage. Consequently, we rely on our large pool of volunteers (75 at last count!) to fill in the gaps wherever possible.

Some examples of volunteer opportunities are:

Assistance at performances-ushering, bartending, ticket-taking
Fundraiser Gala assistance-setup, cleanup, decorations, prize acquisition, serving
Youth Program Supervision and Chaperoning
Actor and Directors Hosting- Can you provide housing to a visiting professional for up to 4 weeks?
Graphics and artwork creation-online, creative, marketing support
Fundraising assistance- use your contacts in the community to help us raise support
Audience Development- help build audience through word-of-mouth, telephone support, events

For more information on how YOU can volunteer, please call the theater at 573-719-3226 or complete the form here.

We perform in an intimate 74-seat auditorium repurposed from the historic F&M Bank Building at 212 Broadway in downtown Hannibal. After 10 seasons, we abandoned the historic wooden seats salvaged from Hannibal High School in favor of more comfortable and larger seats which were also rescued from a St. Louis movie theater.

The acoustics in our auditorium are such that no seat is more than 20 feet from the stage and most theatrical performances require no amplification.
We also maintain an annex space at 121 S. 3rd which houses sets, props and costumes, and incorporates a rehearsal space and set build shop.  

An organizations is only as strong as the people behind it and at BCT we have been fortunate to have attracted some of the best and brightest talent in the region. Directors are elected for three-year terms and may be reelected for three terms, a total of nine years. Below is our current Board of Directors:

Kjersti Corey – Chairperson
Caleb Lionberger – Vice Chairperson
Wesley Yargus – Treasurer/Secretary
Frannie Altheide
Allan Atkins
Addie Ball
Debra Burton
Clark Cruikshank
David Kroner
Mike Marx
Thomas Tener

We are a professional theatre, but we do not charge for admission, to help keep theatre accessible for everyone. Your donations help us continue to bring live, professional theatre to the greater Hannibal area.

Click Here to donate now.

Get In Touch

We love to hear from our supporters and audience members. Please use the form below to contact us for any reason and we’ll get right back to you.