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The Stage 100 2016 (80-61)

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80 Janie Dee

Janie Dee. Photo: David Jensen

Whether it’s cabaret, a play or a musical, Dee is rarely off the stage. In 2015, she began in London with a concert production of A Little Night Music, before moving on to 84 Charing Cross Road at the Salisbury Playhouse, and Ah, Wilderness at the Young Vic Theatre. In the summer, she starred in The Seagull at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, before ending the year in the concert Kings of Broadway. This year, she stars in Hand to God in the West End. Throw into that a number of solo cabaret shows, and you’ve got one busy performer. New entry

79 Christopher Haydon

Christopher Haydon

The Gate
Under Haydon’s artistic directorship, The Gate Theatre in Notting Hill has re-established itself as one of London’s most exciting and radical small theatres. In 2015, it hosted the European premiere of Eclipsed by Danai Gurira, plus an Australian production of Medea told from the perspective of the children, with the play later opening on Broadway with Lupita Nyong’o. The theatre also enjoyed continued success with its production of Grounded, which toured. New entry

78 James Graham

James Graham. Photo: Richard Davenport

The UK’s exciting young political playwright, Graham was part of something special in 2015 – a play for both stage and television, with The Vote, which he penned. The show dramatised the final 90 minutes before a poll closed in the general election, and was staged at the Donmar Warehouse and broadcast live on More4. Its cast included Mark Gatiss and Judi Dench. He also wrote the book for Finding Neverland, which continues to run on Broadway, making Graham in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. His new play, Monster Raving Loony, opens this year. Last year: 95

77 Noma Dumezweni

Noma Dumezweni. Photo: Simon Annand

Olivier-winner Dumezweni hit the news headlines for two reasons in 2015. The first was when she replaced Kim Cattrall at the last minute in the production of Linda at the Royal Court Theatre, London, delivering a blistering performance at short notice. The second was as the year came to a close, when she was cast as Hermione in the forthcoming stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre, London. A fine actress, but through these two roles she has also become a standard-bearer for colour-blind casting in theatre. New entry

76 Marianne Elliott

Marianne Elliott
Marianne Elliott

Early in 2015, Elliott won a Tony award for her direction of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It was her second Tony award, having previously won for her direction of War Horse. One of Britain’s best and most consistent directors, 2015 proved to be another busy year for Elliott at the
National Theatre, where she is an associate director, as she directed Rules for Living, which ran from March to July, and Husbands and Sons, starring Anne-Marie Duff, which runs until February. Last year: 79

75 Hofesh Shechter

Hofesh Shechter. Photo: Victor Frankowski
Hofesh Shechter. Photo: Victor Frankowski

It was a year of firsts for choreographer Shechter, who – in March 2015 – produced his first work for 20 dancers at the Royal Ballet, in Untouchable. He went on to direct and choreograph his inaugural opera, too, working with the Royal Opera on Orphee Et Eurydice. Last year, he also announced the launch of a company for young dancers and produced a four-week season of work called Hofest, staged at various venues around London. Shechter also used his profile to speak out against standards of dance training in the UK. New entry

Interview with Hofesh Shechter

74 James Brining and Robin Hawkes

Jame Brining. Photo: Anthony Robling
Robin Hawkes. Photo: Anthony Robling
Robin Hawkes. Photo: Anthony Robling

West Yorkshire Playhouse
Brining was appointed artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2012, and his tenure is now in full swing. In 2015, he came into his stride, with a critically lauded production of musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang closing a busy year for the venue. West Yorkshire Playhouse also received praise for its work with audiences with dementia, and entered into a new writing partnership with the University of Leeds. Brining has been joined at the venue by Hawkes as joint chief executive. New entry

73 Jonathan Kent

Jonathan Kent. Photo: Johan-Persson
Jonathan Kent. Photo: Johan Persson

In 2015, Kent was awarded an CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for services to music and theatre. His production of the musical Gypsy, starring Imelda Staunton, was a huge success at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2014. Last year, it transferred to the Savoy Theatre in the West End, where it ran to even greater acclaim. The production won the UK Theatre award for best musical production and is a front-runner for the Olivier Awards. Kent also directed the remarkable Young Chekhov trilogy in Chichester, which transfers to the National Theatre this year. New entry

Jonathan Kent: ‘New musicals are a crapshoot’

72 Jeremy Herrin and Henny Finch

Jeremy Herrin. Photo: Johan Persson
Jeremy Herrin. Photo: Johan Persson
Henny Finch
Henny Finch

Headlong kicked off last year with a revival of The Absence of War, directed by Herrin, which toured the UK. The company also featured in Rufus Norris’ first season at the National Theatre with People, Places and Things. It was directed by Herrin and will transfer to the West End this year. Herrin and Headlong’s executive director, Henny Finch, also announced a new commissioning strategy, with an equal number of plays from both male and female playwrights. Elsewhere, 1984 returned to the West End and The Glass Menagerie toured. Last year: 66

71 David Hare

David Hare. Photo: Johan Persson

Best known as a topical playwright, Hare looked backwards in 2015. His new adaptations of three early Chekhov plays – Platonov, Ivanov and The Seagull – under the umbrella of Young Chekhov was one of the highlights of last year’s Chichester Festival Theatre season, and will transfer to the National Theatre this year. Meanwhile, The Moderate Soprano – his latest play about the founding of Glyndebourne – was staged at the Hampstead Theatre in London last year. He also published The Blue Touch Paper, a memoir. Last year: 44

70 Beverley Knight

Beverley Knight. Photo: Tomlin Co
Beverley Knight. Photo: Tomlin Co

Ever since making her West End debut in The Bodyguard, Beverley Knight has become a musical theatre favourite, with the genre allowing the singer to show off her voice in all its glory. In 2015 she continued to lead the cast of Memphis at the Shaftesbury Theatre, before moving into Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats at the London Palladium when the musical returned for a second run in 2015. A bona fide West End star. New entry

69 Tamara Rojo

Tamara Rojo. Photo: Johan Persson
Tamara Rojo. Photo: Johan Persson

English National Ballet
Now in her fourth year at the helm of English National Ballet, Rojo’s tenacious leadership has paid dividends, with one of the key announcements of 2015 being that ENB will have a new home, planned for 2018. She has secured co-production alliances with venues including Sadler’s Wells and Manchester International Festival. Still one of dance’s leading performers, she is also raising the profile of female choreographers, with a season of all-female choreography planned for 2016. New entry

Interview with Tamara Rojo

68 Edward Hall and Greg Ripley-Duggan

Edward Hall. Photo: Manuel Harlan
Greg Ripley-Duggan. Photo: Stephanie Methven

Hampstead Theatre
As artistic director and executive director of Hampstead Theatre respectively, Hall and Ripley-Duggan have had a strong year, offering audiences live streaming of its shows, putting £1 million into commissioning new work and transferring productions into the West End. In 2015 its production of Mr Foote’s Other Leg moved to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, and Di and Viv and Rose opened at the Vaudeville. Two other shows also transferred to the West End: The Wasp and Four Minutes Twelve Seconds. Last year: 34

67 Sean Holmes

Sean Holmes. Photo: Helen Maybanks
Sean Holmes. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Lyric Hammersmith
Holmes became artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith in 2009, stating his ambition to turn the venue into a “national theatre of Hammersmith”. In 2015 the venue reopened after a £16.5 million redevelopment, giving him the facilities to help achieve that ambition. Musical Bugsy Malone relaunched the Lyric and returns in 2016. Keen to expand Hammersmith’s work with young people, it now has a two-storey extension, offering a range of brand new facilities to benefit young people wishing to learn and gain experience in the creative industry. Last year: 90

66 John Stalker

John Stalker
John Stalker

Music and Lyrics
Through Music and Lyrics, the consortium he founded in 2011, Stalker continues to tour quality musicals throughout the UK. In 2015, Music and Lyrics took Oklahoma! on the road, starring Belinda Lang, Ashley Day and Gary Wilmot, with choreography by Drew McOnie. The Stage called it a “smashing new production”. With the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Music and Lyrics also launched an excellent new production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 2015, which will run into 2016. New entry

65 Mark Goucher

Mark Goucher

Another impressive year for commercial producer Goucher. Taken at Midnight, which he developed, transferred to the West End after its run at Chichester Festival Theatre, starring the brilliant Penelope Wilton, who won an Olivier for her performance. Goucher also co-produced The King’s Speech on tour, the ever-popular Slava’s Snowshow, and a major new tour of Hairspray, starring Claire Sweeney and Peter Duncan. Last year: 41

64 Mike Bartlett

Mike Bartlett
Mike Bartlett

As well as having one of the most talked-about TV dramas of 2015 with Doctor Foster, Bartlett also had an exceptionally busy year in theatre. The world premiere of his provocative play Game opened at the Almeida Theatre in March, while Bull had two runs at the Young Vic, first in January and again in December. On top of that, the acclaimed King Charles III won the Olivier award for best new play and has since toured the UK and opened on Broadway. Last year: 74

63 Tristan Baker

Tristan Baker
Tristan Baker

Baker runs Runaway Entertainment with Charlie Parsons, and in 2015 had major success as producer and general manager of the sizzling In the Heights, first at the Southwark Playhouse and later at the King’s Cross Theatre. Runaway also produces The Railway Children in London and Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre in the West End. This year it kicks of its producing credits with a tour of Footloose, starring Gareth Gates. New entry

62 Nikolai Foster and Chris Stafford

Nikolai Foster. Photo: Alex Brenner
Nikolai Foster. Photo: Alex Brenner
Chris Stafford. Photo: Alex Brenner
Chris Stafford. Photo: Alex Brenner

Curve, Leicester
Foster became artistic director of Curve at the beginning of last year, and wasted no time in putting his stamp on the venue, including expanding the main house by 100 seats. His first season included A Streetcar Named Desire, while Breakfast at Tiffany’s opens this year and will be the theatre’s first West End transfer. Foster is now working with Stafford, the new chief executive, who has vowed to place more emphasis on touring and international work. New entry

61 Simon Russell Beale

Simon Russell-Beale. Photo: Robert Day
Simon Russell-Beale. Photo: Robert Day

It proved to be another busy year for Russell Beale, who appeared in two major productions – Temple at the Donmar Warehouse and Mr Foote’s Other Leg, which originally ran in Hampstead before moving to the West End. Russell Beale earned rave reviews for both. The Telegraph said his performance in Temple instantly ranked as “one of the finest in his career”. His turn in Mr Foote’s Other Leg was labelled “sumptuous” by The Guardian. He found time to take part in a reading of  The Iliad and a poetry night at the Trafalgar Studios celebrating Pinter. Last year: 38

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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