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The Stage 100: theatre’s power list 2017

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The Stage 100 is the definitive list of theatre’s most influential people and partnerships. Each year, a crack team of leading industry figures is polled before senior editorial figures at The Stage consider business success, vision and ability to affect change for the better. Rankings are based on ongoing success, weighted towards achievements in the past 12 months. In terms of diversity, the list aims to reflect the way the theatre and performing arts industry is, not what it aims to be, nor what The Stage would like it to be.

Below is The Stage 100 2017. View The Stage 100 2018 here.

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

100 Natasha J Barnes and Ria Jones

Natasha J Barnes and Ria Jones
Natasha J Barnes and Ria Jones


It was the year of the understudy. Barnes took over the role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl at the Savoy Theatre after Sheridan Smith temporarily withdrew. She succeeded in winning over both audiences and the critics. Barnes was later cast in the title role of Cinderella, the lavish London Palladium pantomime. Meanwhile at London’s Coliseum, Jones successfully stepped in to play Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard for several nights when its star Glenn Close was struck down with flu. New entry

99 Lez Brotherston

Lez Brotherston won the award for best design at the UK Theatre Awards 2016. Photo: Pamela Raith
Photo: Pamela Raith


Brotherston is one of the most in-demand designers working in UK theatre today. In 2016, he won the UK Theatre award for his work on Daniel Evans’ productions of both Show Boat and new British musical Flowers for Mrs Harris, which opened at Sheffield Theatres in May 2016. He completed the year on a high, reuniting with regular collaborator Matthew Bourne – Brotherston won a Tony for his design of Bourne’s Swan Lake – on his new dance production of The Red Shoes, which opened in December at Sadler’s Wells to rave reviews. New entry

Interview with Lez Brotherston

98 Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway


Artistic Directors of the Future

Hodge-Dallaway is the founder and executive manager of Artistic Directors of the Future, a training initiative designed to increase the number of black, Asian and multi-ethnic artistic directors in mainstream theatres. The initiative, supported by the Young Vic and the Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme, works in collaboration with the theatre industry to deliver an artistic directors training programme with the aim of creating access to positions of authority in the industry. New entry

97 Anna Fleischle

Award-winner, designer Anna Fleischle
Photo: Pamela Raith Photography


Since winning Olivier, Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard awards for her design of Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen, Fleischle has been increasingly in demand. In 2016 she worked on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of Cymbeline, directed by Melly Still, and Two Noble Kinsmen, directed by Blanche McIntyre. She designed Robert Hastie’s Henry V, starring Michelle Terry in the title role, at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and made heads spin in the stage version of The Exorcist at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. New entry

Interview with Anna Fleischle

96 Emily Dobbs

Photo: Simon Annand
Photo: Simon Annand

Found 111

Dobbs, a young independent producer, established Found 111, an imaginative, grungy temporary venue in a found space in the former Central St Martins School of Art on Charing Cross Road in central London. The space opened late in 2015 with The Dazzle starring Andrew Scott, produced in conjunction with Michael Grandage. The Off-West End space went on to establish itself as a destination with its production of Tracey Letts’ Bug. The final production was a revival of Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love. Dobbs intends to roll out her model to a different location in 2017. New entry

95 Paule Constable


Lighting designer

Constable is one of the most prolific and effective lighting designers in theatre. She began the year working on the Lyric Hammersmith revival of Simon Stephens’ Herons. She also designed three productions at the National Theatre in 2016: Robert Icke’s production of David Hare’s The Red Barn, Nadia Fall’s production of The Suicide and The Threepenny Opera, directed by Rufus Norris. At Chichester Festival Theatre, she worked on James Graham’s This House and Half a Sixpence, both of which transferred to the West End. She also regularly designs for opera and dance. New entry

94 David Byrne


New Diorama Theatre

Artistic and executive director of London’s New Diorama Theatre, Byrne’s commitment to artist support has seen him set up pioneering initiatives in 2016. Chief is the Cash Flow Fund, an interest-free loan scheme for theatremakers. He has also established a scheme to provide free rehearsal space for black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee-led theatre companies. Last year the fringe venue hosted the third Incoming Festival of new work by emerging companies, programmed work by Rhum and Clay, Box of Tricks and Kandinsky, and won the 2016 Empty Space Peter Brook award for “creating a vital hub for established and emerging theatre companies”. New entry

Interview with David Byrne

93 Giles Croft andStephanie Sirr

Stephanie Sirr and Giles Croft (Photo: Robert Day)
Stephanie Sirr and Giles Croft (Photo: Robert Day)

Nottingham Playhouse

Last summer Croft, artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse, announced he would be stepping down after 18 years in the role alongside executive director Sirr, with Adam Penford taking over in 2018. What has been a solid tenure at one of our principal regional producing houses ends on a high note: Croft’s production of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner transferred to Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End last month. The theatre’s Sweet Vengeance season of three in-house productions in the autumn featured productions of Sleuth, directed by Croft, and The Revenger’s Tragedy. New entry

92 Gareth Fry


Sound designer

A prolific and award-winning sound designer, Fry has enjoyed a particularly notable 2016. A regular collaborator with Complicite, he worked on Simon McBurney’s mesmeric binaural production The Encounter, which toured in 2016 following a run at the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival. He was also the sound designer on the stage event of 2016, John Tiffany’s two-parter Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Other work in 2016 included the European premiere of Peter and the Starcatcher at the Royal and Derngate Theatre, Northampton, directed by Luke Sheppard. New entry

91 Tamara Harvey

Tamara Harvey. Photo: Catherine Ashmore
Photo: Catherine Ashmore

Theatr Clwyd

Harvey is artistic director of Theatr Clwyd in Mold. The director was appointed to the role in summer 2015, replacing previous artistic director Terry Hands. Her impressive inaugural season launched with Robert Hastie’s production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which was followed by the regional premiere of April De Angelis’ Jumpy, directed by Lisa Spirling, and Philip Breen’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac. The 20th-anniversary co-production of Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent opened at the venue in October before transferring to the St James Theatre, London, ahead of a tour. New entry

Interview with Tamara Harvey

 90 Michelle Terry

Photo: Andy Locke
Photo: Hugo Glendinning


In 2016 Terry built on her reputation as an actor of range and eloquence. In February, she starred in Katie Mitchell’s revival of Sarah Kane’s Cleansed at the National Theatre and in the summer she joined the ranks of female performers interpreting some of the major male roles in Shakespeare, playing Henry V in Robert Hastie’s production at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London. At an NT Platform in response to comments made by Ronald Harwood, she revealed that “having a vagina did not make any difference at all” to her portrayal of Henry V. New entry

Interview with Michelle Terry

89 James Brining and Robin Hawkes

James Brining and Robin Hawkes. Photo: Anthony Robling
James Brining and Robin Hawkes. Photo: Anthony Robling

West Yorkshire Playhouse

Brining was appointed artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2012. In 2016, he programmed Chris Goode’s community show Wanted as part of Leeds’ Transform festival (which started life at the Playhouse under Brining) and Linda Marshall Griffiths’ “bold re-imagining” of Charlotte Bronte’s Villette as part of a wider season of work marking the bicentenary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth. The year concluded with the premiere of Drew McOnie’s production of Strictly Ballroom. Last year: 74

88 Lucian Msamati

Photo: Mark Douet
Photo: Mark Douet


Following his performance as Iago for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2015, Msamati starred in two of the National Theatre’s most acclaimed productions. In February he gave one of the stand-out performances in Dominic Cooke’s production of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and in November he starred in Michael Longhurst’s glorious revival of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. In a year when diversity of casting had been the source of some of the biggest conversations in theatre, Msamati was leading the way. New entry

Interview with Lucian Msamati

87 Emma Brunjes and Les Enfants Terribles

EBP producer Emma Brunjes with Les Enfants Terribles producer James Seager and artistic director Oliver Lansley
EBP producer Emma Brunjes with Les Enfants Terribles producer James Seager and artistic director Oliver Lansley

Producer and theatremakers

In 2015, Brunjes and theatre company Les Enfants Terribles (Ernest and the Pale Moon, The Trench) took over the Vaults in London with their immersive Alice’s Adventures Underground. Together they’ve gone on to collaborate on further innovative theatrical events. In the summer of 2016 they produced the immersive Sherlock Holmes adventure The Game’s Afoot with Madame Tussauds, and returned to the Vaults in September with Dinner at the Twits, a theatrical dining experience based on the Roald Dahl book made in collaboration with Bompas and Parr and Creature of London. New entry

86 David Jubb


Battersea Arts Centre

Jubb is the artistic director of London’s Battersea Arts Centre, part of which was destroyed in a fire in 2015. A Phoenix fund was set up to raise money for restoration work. Last year saw the opening of a new courtyard performance space with a new show, Extravaganza Macabre, by Little Bulb. The venue is also creating eight new artist bedrooms, which will allow artists to stay in the building. A champion of new work, this autumn it staged London Stories: Made by Migrants, a building-wide storytelling project in which Londoners told audiences their personal experiences of migration. New entry

85 James Dacre and Martin Sutherland

James Dacre and Martin Sutherland. Photos: Christine Allum/Adele Curtis
James Dacre and Martin Sutherland. Photos: Christine Allum/Adele Curtis

Royal and Derngate, Northampton

The Royal and Derngate has had another strong year under Dacre and Sutherland, who are approaching their fourth year together at the Northampton venue. It has produced or co-produced a range of strong work, and has collaborated with theatres and companies around the country. James Dacre’s production of The Herbal Bed, a co-production with English Touring Theatre, won best touring production at the 2016 UK Theatre Awards. The venue also staged a revised version of Dacre’s production of A Tale of Two Cities and the European premiere of Peter and the StarcatcherLast year: 89

84 Michael Longhurst

Photo: Marc Brenner
Photo: Marc Brenner


Longhurst built on a prolific and successful 2015 by returning to the Almeida Theatre, where he directed Simon Stephens’ Carmen Disruption, to stage Adam Brace’s new play They Drink It in the Congo. He followed this up by making his directing debut in the Olivier at the National Theatre in November with a superb revival of Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus, starring Lucian Msamati as Salieri and featuring the Southbank Sinfonia. New entry

Interview with Michael Longhurst

83 Madani Younis

Madani Younis, artistic director, Bush Theatre. Photo: Stephanie Methven
Photo: Stephanie Methven

Bush Theatre

The Bush Theatre in west London may have spent 2016 undergoing a refurbishment, but that didn’t stop artistic director Younis planning a season of work outside of the venue. The theatre staged plays in spaces on the nearby Uxbridge Road and in other spaces such as the Tabernacle, and even in people’s homes. Younis can also be relied on to add his thoughts to important industry debates – last year claiming that he was tired of white theatre leaders being given all the credit for speaking out about diversity in the mediaLast year: 91

82 Cassie Raine and Anna Ehnold-Danailov

Cassie Raine and Anna Ehnold-Danailov. Photo: Jose Mosquera
Cassie Raine and Anna Ehnold-Danailov. Photo: Jose Mosquera

Parents in Performing Arts

Raine and Ehnold-Danailov are the co-founders of campaigning group Parents in the Performing Arts. The pair made a lot of necessary noise in 2016, questioning how working practices could be improved for those with children. In October 2016, in conjunction with leading venues, they launched a year-long project with the aim of identifying barriers faced by parents in the sectorNew entry

81 Drew McOnie

Drew McOnie. Photo: Gabriel Mokake
Photo: Gabriel Mokake

Director and choreographer

McOnie continued to be ambitious in his choices in 2016. His own dance company, the McOnie Company, is establishing a brand. In 2016, he choreographed Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. In May, he staged a new dance theatre production of Jekyll and Hyde at the Old Vic. In November, he choreographed and directed a stage version of Strictly Ballroom at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. His production of The Wild Party will open at the Other Palace in 2017, the first show to be staged at the venue under Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ownership. Last year: 81

Interview with Drew McOnie

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

The Stage 100: full list for 2017

Top 5
1. Sonia Friedman (last year: 2)
2. Andrew Lloyd Webber (4)
3. Cameron Mackintosh and Nicholas Allott (3)
4. Mark Cornell and Adam Kenwright (new entry/41)
5. Rufus Norris, Lisa Burger and Ben Power (12)

Numbers 6-10
6. Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer (9)
7. Gregory Doran, Catherine Mallyon, Erica Whyman (7)
8. David Lan and Lucy Woollatt (6)
9. Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham (13)
10. Emma Rice and Neil Constable (new entry/11)

Numbers 11-20
11. Daniel Evans and Rachel Tackley (14/45)
12. Michael Harrison (21)
13. Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis, Nick Salmon (19)
14. Matthew Warchus (34)
15. John Tiffany (new entry)
16. Kenny Wax (37)
17. Bill Kenwright (17)
18. Kenneth Branagh (23)
19. David Babani (31)
20. Phyllida Lloyd (new entry)

Numbers 21-40
21. David Ian (22)
22. Noma Dumezweni (77)
23. Robert Icke (36)
24. Thomas Schumacher (43)
25. Rupert Goold (10)
26. Nick Thomas (26)
27. Jeremy Herrin (72, with Henny Finch)
28. Matthew Bourne (42)
29. Indhu Rubasingham (38)
30. Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire (1)
31. Sarah Frankcom (20)
32. Edward Snape (59)
33. Caro Newling (33)
34. Robert Hastie and Dan Bates (new entry/14)
35. Gemma Bodinetz and Deborah Aydon (35)
36. Toni Racklin (18)
37. Timothy Sheader and William Village (new entry)
38. Alistair Spalding (28)
39. Vicky Featherstone (46)
40. Sheridan Smith (30)

Numbers 41-60
41. Nikolai Foster and Chris Stafford (62)
42. Julian Bird (45)
43. Michael McCabe (48)
44. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (new entry)
45. Fiona Allan (new entry)
46. Tim Minchin (new entry)
47. Tristan Baker (63)
48. Mark Rylance (29)
49. Jenny Sealey (49)
50. Jack Thorne (new entry)
51. David Hare (71)
52. James Grieve and George Perrin (52)
53. David Grindrod and Pippa Ailion (new entry)
54. Purni Morell (47)
55. Alex Beard (54)
56. Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields and Henry Lewis (new entry)
57. Mark Goucher (65)
58. Michael Grandage (24)
59. Nick Starr and Nicholas Hytner (32)
60. Billie Piper (new entry)

Numbers 61-80
61. David Greig (56)
62. Tom Morris (new entry)
63. Fergus Linehan (55)
64. Jonathan Kent (73)
65. Simon Russell Beale (61)
66. Maxine Peake (51)
67. Sean Holmes (67)
68. Peter Wilson (new entry)
69. Tamara Rojo (69)
70. Pappa Essiedu (new entry)
71. Glenda Jackson (new entry)
72. Kully Thiarai (new entry)
73. Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood (85)
74. Jamie Hendry (new entry)
75. Andrew Wright (new entry)
76. James Graham (78)
77. Jackie Wylie (new entry)
78. Marianne Elliott (76)
79. Danny Moar and Laurence Boswell (87)
80. Hofesh Shechter (75)

Numbers 81-100
81. Drew McOnie (81)
82. Cassie Raine and Anna Ehnold-Danailov (new entry)
83. Madani Younis (91)
84. Michael Longhurst (new entry)
85. James Dacre and Martin Sutherland (89)
86. David Jubb (new entry)
87. Emma Brunjes and Les Enfants Terribles (new entry)
88. Lucian Msamati (new entry)
89. James Brining and Robin Hawkes (74)
90. Michelle Terry (new entry)
91. Tamara Harvey (new entry)
92. Gareth Fry (new entry)
93. Giles Croft and Stephanie Sirr (new entry)
94. David Byrne (new entry)
95. Paule Constable (new entry)
96. Emily Dobbs (new entry)
97. Anna Fleischle (new entry)
98. Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway (new entry)
99. Lez Brotherston (new entry)
100. Natasha J Barnes and Ria Jones (new entry)

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