For the first time since its founding, the theater is nominated for several Broadway World awards for two productions put on by the theater in 2016: “Emily, the Musical” and “The Boys in Autumn”.

Hannibal’s Bluff City Theater has come a long way since its founding by Executive Director Joe Anderson four years ago. What’s not changed is the exceptional talent recruited by Anderson to put on productions that rival theater companies in much larger cities.

And for the first time since its founding, the theater is nominated for several Broadway World awards for two productions put on by the theater in 2016: “Emily, the Musical” and “The Boys in Autumn”.

Circulated internationally, Broadway World covers theater throughout the world. The magazine’s awards program, split into regions, works similarly to a People’s Choice Awards and the Oscars/Emmy’s.

Audiences and industry insiders nominate works and specific theater personnel for awards. Bluff City Theater secured 17 nominations in 14 categories.

“It’s kind of cool,” Anderson said. “We’ve never even shown up in their nominations before.”

Most prestigiously, Bluff City Theater is in the running for Best Theater Company for 2017 in the St. Louis region. Hannibal’s only live theater is up against much more well-known competition like the Fox Theater and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

“If you think back to when I started the theater, our goal was to be a regionally significant theater,” Anderson said.

Now four years into the theater’s existence, Anderson said it draws people from several hours away. People from Quincy and Springfield, Ill., as well as St. Louis and beyond now regularly make the trip to Hannibal to see a Bluff City Theater production, Anderson said.

The 90-seat theater, converted from the former Farmers and Merchants Bank building on Broadway, casts talent from around the country, drawing family and friends to Hannibal from as far away as Dallas and New York.

“In the strategic plan, we wanted to attract an audience from a five-hour travel sphere,” Anderson said. “That’s the concept of the theater and it’s starting to pay off.”

He estimated more than 50 percent of the theater’s audience comes from outside Hannibal.

Two of the nominees have their roots in Hannibal. Dallas James is a Los-Angeles-based actor who grew up in Hannibal who is nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical and Courtney Friday continues to make her home in Hannibal and is the vocal music instructor for Bluff City Theater Arts Academy. She is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.

The award nominations range from Best Actor in a Drama (John Contini and Jim Anthony in “The Boys in Autumn”) to Best Costume Design in a Musical (Ryan Moore for “Emily”).

Anderson said he’s proud of the talent on display at Bluff City Theater, noting that several people have gone on to work in productions internationally.

“The talent we’ve found is getting recognized nationally and internationally shows we’re on to something here in Hannibal,” he said.

Full nominations:

• John Contini and Jim Anthony, both nominated for Best Actor in a Drama

• Jason Contini for Best Director-Drama

• Best Drama- The Boys in Autumn

• Jennifer Stewart for Best Direction of a Musical

• Emily-the Musical for Best Musical

• Kyle Klein and Matthew Combs for Best Actor in a Musical

• Janine Norman for Best Actress in a Musical

• Colin Healy for Best Music Director and Best Music Direction

• Jonathon Mesisca and Dallas James for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

• Courtney Friday and Rosemary Watts for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

• Ryan Moore for Best Costume Design in a Musical

• Bluff City Theater for Best Theater Company for 2017

The winners are determined by a public vote. To vote, visit broadwayworld.com/st-louis/vote2017region.cfm

As of Thursday, ten of the theater’s 17 nominations were leading in their categories.

Bluff City Theater recently announced its 2018 line-up. Anderson selects productions based on a theme. The theme for 2018 is “faith.”

Reach editor Eric Dundon at eric.dundon@courierpost.com .