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The Stage 100 2016 (40-21)

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40 Laurie Sansom

Laurie Sansom. Photo: Mark Hamilton
Laurie Sansom. Photo: Mark Hamilton

National Theatre of Scotland
This year the National Theatre of Scotland looks forward to having something for the first time in its 10-year history: a home. The move to a purpose-built, 40,000 sq ft, £5.8 million building in Glasgow is scheduled for spring, when the company should be able to move from the four offices it currently rents in the city. Large-scale work in partnership with other theatre organisations and community projects is promised. Watch this space. Highlights in 2015 included Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, The Driver’s Seat, Whisky Galore and Rites. Last year: 26 equal

39 John E McGrath

John E McGrath. Photo: Jorge Lizalde
John E McGrath. Photo: Jorge Lizalde

National Theatre Wales
The outgoing artistic director (and founder) of National Theatre Wales has now joined Manchester International Festival, replacing Alex Poots. It’s a homecoming of sorts for the erstwhile Contact AD, but his imprint at NTW will also be lasting. Under his leadership, the company has established a reputation for some of Britain’s most adventurous theatremaking, with productions in 2015 including a 12-hour multimedia Iliad and the live performance/filmed (150), a collaboration with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, broadcast on S4C. Last year: 26 equal

38 Indhu Rubasingham

Indhu Rubasingham. Photo: Jane Hobson
Indhu Rubasingham. Photo: Jane Hobson

Tricycle Theatre
As well as directing The Motherf**ker With the Hat at the National in June, Rubasingham toured Handbagged in 2015 and is returning to direct a West End transfer of the Tricycle’s Red Velvet, starring Adrian Lester, as part of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s season at the Garrick. She has continued to fight the corner of minority ethnic theatremakers, both through the programming at her north London theatre and as a bold public speaker. Last year: 56

37 Kenny Wax

Kenny Wax
Kenny Wax

In one week in 2015, Wax opened three West End shows – Dear Lupin, The Three Little Pigs and Hetty Feather. By the end of the year, his concurrent productions in the UK ran to double figures, including multi-Olivier-winning The Play That Goes Wrong, and sister production Peter Pan Goes Wrong; there’s talk of the former going to Broadway this year. Wax, who once won an Olivier for his part in writing Top Hat (under the pseudonym Howard Jacques), has become one of London’s top-tier producers. Last year: 71

36 Robert Icke

Robert Icke. Photo: Pamela Raith
Robert Icke. Photo: Pamela Raith

Icke’s distinctive directorial style made two appearances in the West End in 2015, with 1984 at the Playhouse and Oresteia at the Trafalgar Studios. The latter, widely tipped for awards, was part of the Greeks season at the Almeida, where Icke is associate director. He also had a hand in the online streamed productions of both The Odyssey and The Iliad, the latter with a cast of 66. In February, Icke will direct a new version of Uncle Vanya at the Almeida, starring Paul Rhys. Last year: 96

35 Gemma Bodinetz and Deborah Aydon

Deborah Aydon. Photo: Alex Brenner
Deborah Aydon. Photo: Alex Brenner
Gemma Bodinetz. Photo: Helen Warner
Gemma Bodinetz. Photo: Helen Warner

Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse
Liverpool carried home a brace of silverware at The Stage Awards 2015: Theatre Building of the Year and School of the Year for its Young Everyman Playhouse Scheme. By October it had added a UK Theatre design award for its co-production of The Hudsucker Proxy with Southampton’s Nuffield. Its partnership work continues, working on The Glass Menagerie with Headlong and West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2015, while planning an ambitious “derailed” version of Madame Bovary for 2016 with the Peepolykus and other regional partners. Last year: 19

Video: interview with Deborah Aydon at The Stage Awards 2015
Feature on Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse

34 Matthew Warchus

Matthew Warchus. Photo: Manuel Harlan
Matthew Warchus. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Old Vic Theatre
It’s early days for Warchus’ tenure as artistic director at London’s Old Vic. After an inauspicious start with Future Conditional, which met with a mixed response from the critics, his first season bore riper fruit with Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape, while an adaptation of Dr Seuss’ The Lorax proved a popular Christmas offering. Ralph Fiennes will star in The Master Builder and Timothy Spall in The Caretaker in 2016. New entry

Interview with Matthew Warchus

33 Caro Newling

Caro Newling. Photo: Eliza Power
Caro Newling. Photo: Eliza Power

Neal Street Productions
The 31st president of the Society of London Theatre made headlines in 2015 chiefly through the sale of her and Sam Mendes’ company, Neal Street Productions. All3Media, which bought the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory producer, is thought to have paid in the region of £40 million. Newling remains at Neal Street, where she has continued to find favour for its Drury Lane musical with relaxed performances and a small script edit after an audience member complaint. Last year: 24

32 Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr

Nick Starr. Photo: Sarah Lee
Nick Starr. Photo: Sarah Lee
Nicholas Hytner. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
Nicholas Hytner. Photo: Hugo Glendinning

London Theatre Company
Even before ‘the two Nicks’ left the National, speculation was rife about what the pair might do next. The guesswork was silenced in 2015, when they announced the London Theatre Company, a new commercial production company that is to build its own premises: a 900-seat purpose-built theatre that will form part of Berkeley Homes’ One Tower Bridge development. It will be the capital’s first new large-scale theatre in 20 years, and is expected to open in spring 2017. Expect them to shoot back up the list when it does. Last year: 4

31 David Babani

David Babani. Photo: Alastair Muir
David Babani. Photo: Alastair Muir

Menier Chocolate Factory
Babani’s success at the Menier Chocolate Factory continues unabated, with transfers for What’s It All About: Bacharach Reimagined (under a new name, Close to You) and – later this year – Funny Girl, starring Sheridan Smith. A much-vaunted Broadway production of  The Color Purple, with Cynthia Erivo as Celie, that opened in September, is firmly based on the Menier’s 2013 edition. A revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s Communicating Doors also earned plaudits for the Southwark theatre last year. Last year: 31

30 Sheridan Smith

Sheridan Smith. Photo: Marc Brenner
Sheridan Smith. Photo: Marc Brenner

When 16,000 tickets went on sale for Funny Girl at the Menier Chocolate Factory at midnight on August 17, 2015, it sold out in a little over 10 hours. The reason? Sheridan Smith. The double Olivier-winner, who played the original Elle Woods in the West End’s Legally Blonde the Musical, did not disappoint and the West End now beckons for Funny Girl and Smith, who has become a hot property in British musical theatre. How long until she breaks Broadway as well? New entry

29 Mark Rylance

Mark Rylance. Photo: Tristram Kenton
Mark Rylance. Photo: Tristram Kenton

One of theatre’s most bankable stars, Rylance has primed his value over the past 12 months with performances in Farinelli and the King (which successfully transferred from the Sam Wanamaker to the Duke of York’s), the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall and the Steven Spielberg film Bridge of Spies, with Tom Hanks. He was also made a senior research fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe (he was the venue’s first artistic director) and became a patron of Speech Bubbles, a charity for children with communication difficulties; Rylance did not speak until he was six. New entry

Interview with Mark Rylance

28 Alistair Spalding

Alistair Spalding. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
Alistair Spalding. Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Sadler’s Wells
Sadler’s Wells continues to fire on all cylinders with Spalding at the helm. After a season of 21 produced works that reached almost half a million people in London, and boasted world-class pieces from Matthew Bourne, Hofesh Shechter, Arthur Pita and Akram Khan, the artistic director went on in November to announce a coup for 2016: Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova will appear for the first time with partner Sergei Polunin on a UK stage as she moves from ballet into contemporary dance. Last year: 33

27 Steve Tompkins and Graham Haworth

Graham Haworth. Photo: Haworth Tompkins
Graham Haworth. Photo: Haworth Tompkins
Steve Tompkins. Photo: Alex Brenner
Steve Tompkins. Photo: Alex Brenner

Haworth Tompkins
Haworth Tompkins, the architect responsible in 2014 for the relaunched Chichester Festival Theatre and Liverpool Everyman Playhouse (the latter garnering both the Stirling Prize and The Stage Award for Theatre Building of the Year), has completed work on the NT Future project, as well as picking up the contract to develop the London Theatre Company’s new home at One Tower Bridge. Last year: 10

26 Nick Thomas

Nick Thomas. Photo: Kate Bentley
Nick Thomas. Photo: Kate Bentley

Qdos Entertainment
The founder, chairman and joint owner of Qdos Entertainment has consistently appeared in The Stage 100, even cracking the top 10 on a couple of occasions. The pantomime and cruise entertainment company, which is also the parent of the UK’s second biggest regional theatre operator, HQ Theatres, added London’s Churchill Theatre in Bromley to its stable in 2015; it will begin operating the venue in April. The group also runs a number of restaurants and hotels. Last year: 15

25 Jamie Lloyd

Jamie Lloyd. Photo: Paul Clapp
Jamie Lloyd. Photo: Paul Clapp

It’s been a slightly quieter year for Lloyd, though bookended by major productions at the Trafalgar Studios, where the director’s residency continues. January’s The Ruling Class, starring James McAvoy, was warmly received, but it is his current production of The Homecoming that will be remembered as one of 2015’s highlights, and which sees Lloyd teaming up with John Simm for the first time since previous Pinter revival The Hothouse at the same venue in 2013. Slated for 2016 is a retooled version of Jean Genet’s The Maids in February. Last year: 18

24 Michael Grandage

Michael Grandage. Photo: March Brenner
Michael Grandage. Photo: March Brenner

Fresh from directing his first feature film, Genius, starring Jude Law, Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, Grandage brought the latter back to the West End for the first time since 1998’s The Blue Room. Photograph 51 was joined in Theatreland by Dawn French’s 30 Million Minutes, after a 2014 tour. Grandage has also been credited with helping to establish the new producing trail being trodden by Jamie Lloyd, Kenneth Branagh and Jonathan Church. Last year: 24

Interview with Michael Grandage

23 Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh. Photo: Johan Persson
Kenneth Branagh. Photo: Johan Persson

Actor, director
Returning to the West End stage for the first time since 2008’s Ivanov, Branagh enlisted an all-star ensemble (including Judi Dench, Zoe Wanamaker and Rob Brydon) to mount a year-long season at the Garrick Theatre with the new Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. The Winter’s Tale ran in rep with Harlequinade/All on Her Own in October. The Painkiller, The Entertainer and Romeo and Juliet (with Lily James and Richard Madden) are on the cards for 2016. New entry

Interview with Kenneth Branagh

22 David Ian

David Ian
David Ian

This year marks the 10th anniversary of David Ian Productions. As well as a roster of West End hits, the producer has toured the UK and continues to send productions overseas, notably to the US, with his footprint beginning to envelop growing markets in Asia. He also allowed a ‘guilty pleasure’ in 2015, the first UK production of the 2007 Broadway musical Xanadu at the Southwark Playhouse. Plans for 2016 include a new touring production of Chicago. Last
year: 45

Interview with David Ian

21 Michael Harrison

Michael Harrison
Michael Harrison

The transfer of Gypsy, which Harrison co-produced with David Ian, to the West End from Chichester was one of the theatrical events of the year, and the musical was rewarded with a clutch of awards. Can Harrison pull off the same trick in 2016, when Mrs Henderson Presents transfers to the Noel Coward in February? It would add to a growing pile of commercial successes that lie outside his day job in charge of pantos at Qdos Entertainment. Last year: 23

100-81 80-61 60-41 40-21 20-11 10-6 5-1

How we chose The Stage 100

We introduced a slightly different methodology for deciding the final 100 this year. It included three stages.

Stage one
We invited 50 leading figures from the theatre and performing arts industry to submit anonymously the five people they would place from numbers one to five in the list, plus one other name they believed should feature in the list and why. The 50 people were drawn from different areas of the industry and a variety of professions within it.

Stage two
We invited senior editorial contributors to The Stage to submit their suggestions for the final list.

Stage three
A final judging panel (comprising print editor Alistair Smith, online editor Paddy Smith, news editor Matthew Hemley, associate editor Mark Shenton and reviews editor Natasha Tripney) considered all the names submitted in stages one and two, added their own submissions and decided on the final list.

The Stage 100 is intended to reflect the 100 most influential people working in the theatre and performing arts industry. It is considered from the point of view of The Stage as a trade publication and so focuses on theatre both as a business and an art form. Inclusion within the list and ranking is weighted towards achievements in the past 12 months, but also takes into account continuous achievement. We also aim to have a list that – as much as is possible and plausible – reflects the astonishing breadth of the theatre industry. However, we do not weight the list in an attempt to make it gender-balanced or ethnically diverse: we believe the list should aim to reflect the way the theatre and performing arts industry is, not what it aims to be, or what we would like it to be.


The Stage 100 in full

2015 entry in parentheses

Numbers 100 to 81

100. Danny Lee Wynter (new)
99. Kate McGrath and Louise Blackwood (new)
98. Jess Thom (new)
97. Rachel O’Riordan (new)
96. Tom Scutt (new)
95. Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt (new)
94. Rachel Edwards (new)
93. Equity, BECTU, MU and SDUK (72)
92. Paul Miller (100)
91. Madani Younis (40)
90. Lyndsey Turner (new)
89. James Dacre and Martin Sutherland (92)
88. Deborah Pearson, Andy Field and Ira Brand (new)
87. Danny Moar and Laurence Boswell (67)
86. Chris Goode (new)
85. Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood (new)
84. Howard Goodall (new)
83. Denise Gough (new)
82. Michael Billington and Lyn Gardner (83)
81. Drew McOnie (new)

Numbers 80 to 61

80. Janie Dee (new)
79. Christopher Haydon (new)
78. James Graham (95)
77. Noma Dumezweni (new)
76. Marianne Elliott (79)
75. Hofesh Shecter (new)
74. James Brining and Robin Hawkes (new)
73. Jonathan Kent (new)
72. Jeremy Herrin and Henny Finch (66)
71. David Hare (44)
70. Beverley Knight (new)
69. Tamara Rojo (new)
68. Edward Hall and Greg Ripley-Duggan (34)
67. Sean Holmes (90)
66. John Stalker (new)
65. Mark Goucher (41)
64. Mike Bartlett (74)
63. Tristan Baker (new)
62. Nikolai Foster and Chris Stafford (new)
61. Simon Russell Beale (38)

Numbers 60 to 41

60. Simon Stephens (88)
59. Edward Snape (78)
58. Martin McDonagh (new)
57. Simon McBurney (new)
56. David Greig (new)
55. Fergus Linehan (new)
54. Alex Beard (43)
53. Caryl Churchill (new)
52. James Grieve and George Perrin (30)
51. Maxine Peake (new)
50. Richard Eyre (new)
49. Jenny Sealey (new)
48. Michael McCabe (42)
47. Purni Morrell (48)
46. Vicky Featherstone (63)
45. Julian Bird (37)
44. Rachel Tackley (53)
43. Thomas Schumacher (68)
42. Matthew Bourne (75)
41. Adam Kenwright (84)

Numbers 40 to 21

40. Laurie Sansom (26)
39. John E McGrath (26)
38. Indhu Rubasingham (56)
37. Kenny Wax (71)
36. Robert Icke (96)
35. Gemma Bodinetz and Deborah Aydon (19)
34. Matthew Warchus (new)
33. Caro Newling (24)
32. Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr (4)
31. David Babani (31)
30. Sheridan Smith (new)
29. Mark Rylance (new)
28. Alistair Spalding (33)
27. Steve Tomkins and Graham Haworth (10)
26. Nick Thomas (15)
25. Jamie Lloyd (18)
24. Michael Grandage (28)
23. Kenneth Branagh (new)
22. David Ian (45)
21. Michael Harrison (23)

Numbers 20 to 11

20. Sarah Frankcom (51)
19. Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis, Nick Salmon (22)
18. Toni Racklin (20)
17. Bill Kenwright (11)
16. Imelda Staunton (70)
15. Benedict Cumberbatch (new)
14. Daniel Evans and Dan Bates (16)
13. Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham (14)
12. Rufus Norris, Lisa Berger and Ben Power (25)
11. Dominic Dromgoole and Neil Constable (7)

Numbers 10 to 6

10. Rupert Goold (13)
9. Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer (12)
8. Jonathan Church and Alan Finch (8)
7. Gregory Doran, Catherine Mallyon, Erica Whyman (9)
6. David Lan and Lucy Woollatt (6)

Top five

5. Peter Bazalgette and Darren Henley (new)
4. Andrew Lloyd Webber (5)
3. Cameron Mackintosh and Nick Allott (2)
2. Sonia Friedman (3)
1. Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire (1)

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