3rd: Ruth Mackenzie / Danny Boyle
Cultural Olympiad / Olympics Opening Ceremony
Last year: 8th
Highest ever: 8th
It had seemed an unenviable task to follow in the footsteps of Beijing 2008, but Danny Boyle’s spectacular and moving Olympics Opening Ceremony was undoubtedly the theatrical highlight of 2012 and a timely reminder of what a talented and creative nation Britain is.
It should also have served as reminder to government of how sustained public subsidy of the arts has nurtured that creative talent. Sadly, it seems that despite global recognition for the ceremony, Boyle has had to carefully spell out this point again and again, as he helps front a public campaign against diminishing public funding for regional theatre.
Mackenzie, meanwhile, did an extremely able job of pulling together the various disparate strands of work taking place under the banner of the Cultural Olympiad, so that what had threatened to become an almighty embarrassment, stood worthily alongside a triumphant summer of sport. According to some (admittedly largely estimated) attendance figures, the £63 million London 2012 Festival is thought to have played to nearly 20 million people, which is pretty impressive. There is now talk of the event becoming a biennial affair.
It will be fascinating to see what both Boyle and Mackenzie do next.
4th Cameron Mackintosh /Nick Allott
Cameron Mackintosh Ltd
Delfont Mackintosh Ltd
Last year: 4th =
Highest ever: 1st
Cameron Mackintosh is always there or thereabouts when it comes to the upper echelons of The Stage 100 and this year he has his trusty right-hand man Nick Allott for company.
Recovering from the disappointment of Betty Blue Eyes in 2011, Mackintosh’s tours of Oliver! and The Phantom of the Opera have been two of the big performers out on the road this year, while in the West End, Phantom continues with fellow long-runner Les Miserables. The latter is likely to be given a fresh lease of life by the new big screen version, starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman (among others). Notably, the film has been co-produced by Cameron Mackintosh Ltd (with Working Title).
Overseas, his productions continue to be a major draw. As well as Broadway (where Phantom, Les Mis and Mary Poppins all continue) 2012 has seen Les Mis open in South Korea alongside a Japanese tour of Miss Saigon, which is also being prepped for a West End return.
Meanwhile, his seven London theatres – operated through Delfont Mackintosh Ltd – are some of the jewels of the West End, forever in demand with producers. He looks after them well and continued his admirable restoration policy with work on the Noel Coward and Prince of Wales and a new canopy at the Queen’s.
5th Michael Boyd and Vikki Heywood
Royal Shakespeare Company
Last year: 3rd
Highest ever: 3rd
Matilda the Musical swept all before it at the Olivier Awards in April, winning in seven categories and breaking the record for most wins for a single show, which was already held by the Royal Shakespeare Company for its 1980 production of Nicholas Nickleby.
Matilda continues to go great guns in the West End at the Cambridge Theatre, where it is already well into profit. It will open on Broadway in March and hopes are high that is can repeat its success Stateside. Money from Matilda has already started pouring back into the RSC’s coffers and the show helped the company report turnover in excess of £50 million for the first time in 2011/12.
Other highlights of the year included Gregory Doran’s all-black staging of Julius Caesar, which transferred into the West End, and David Farr’s The Tempest, which moved to the Roundhouse as part of the RSC’s Shipwreck Trilogy.
Artistic director Michael Boyd and executive director Vikki Heywood have now left the RSC, with Doran and Catherine Mallyon now in situ. The pair will prove a hard act to follow, having overseen the creation of the RSC’s revamped Stratford-upon-Avon home, a return to ensemble and, in Matilda, the creation of the most successful show the company has produced since Les Miserables.
6th: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Really Useful Group
Last year: 4th =
Highest ever: 1st
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End empire continued to shrink in 2012, as he sold The Palace Theatre to Nimax Theatres. Still, he remains one of the West End’s leading players and presides over some of Theatreland’s premier venues: the London Palladium and Drury Lane among them. In fact, 2012 marked an incredible 40 years working in the West End for the British theatre’s foremost creative and he was deservedly recognised with a fellowship from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.
Following the disappointment of Love Never Dies, the focus this year has been on exploiting Lloyd Webber’s impressive back catalogue, with an arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar cast via a slightly disappointing ITV talent show. Despite, poor reviews, it proved a big draw on its 11-arena tour and will return in 2013. Shows such as Phantom, Cats, Evita and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat continue to be stalwarts of theatre programmes both at home and abroad, with Phantom due to celebrate 25 years on Broadway this month. Meanwhile, the show’s UK tour has been a great success.
Lloyd Webber has also been impressively busy on the charitable front in 2012, with the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation awarding grants of over £1.3 million to arts, culture and heritage projects.