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The Stage 100 2018: Theatre’s most influential (21-30)

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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.

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21 Matthew Bourne

Matthew Bourne
Matthew Bourne. Photo: Elliott Franks


Bourne retains the title of the UK’s top choreographer, creating hit new shows and touring classics. He won two Olivier awards last year for his production of The Red Shoes – for best new dance production and best theatre choreographer. He marked his company New Adventures’ 30th anniversary with a year-long programme, which engaged 900,000 people at home and abroad. He won The Stage award for his international work and beat Imelda Staunton and Simon Rattle to the Critics’ Circle award for distinguished service to the arts. The Cinderella and Swan Lake tours are further reminders of his influence. Last year: 28

Read our interview with Matthew Bourne

Matthew Bourne’s Asian venture

22 Robert Icke

Robert Icke
Robert Icke. Photo: Pamela Raith


Icke is fast becoming one of Britain’s most compelling theatremakers. The associate director of the Almeida Theatre continues to burnish his CV and was described variously as “theatre’s golden boy” and the “wunderkind director” last year. His standout production in 2017 was the staging of Hamlet starring Andrew Scott, which transferred from the Almeida to the West End amid a flurry of five-star reviews. His production of The Red Barn ran at the start of the year and his 1984 opened on Broadway. His acclaimed production of Mary Stuart is set to transfer to the West End and many will be waiting to see what he does next. Last year: 23

23 Steve Tompkins

Steve Tompkins. Photo: Haworth Tompkins
Steve Tompkins. Photo: Haworth Tompkins


Whether a theatre needs a facelift, an overhaul, or is starting from scratch, Tompkins is often the first call. Co-founding director of Haworth Tompkins, he leads the architecture practice’s performing arts portfolio. The many theatre projects he has masterminded include work on the Royal Court, Bristol Old Vic, National Theatre and the Stirling Prize-winning building for Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse theatres. Last year, Haworth Tompkins designed two of the biggest projects in London – the second phase of works at the Bush Theatre and the creation of Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr’s the Bridge Theatre – to no little acclaim. New entry

The Stage Awards shortlist: Theatre Building of the Year

24 Bill Kenwright

Bill Kenwright
Bill Kenwright. Photo: Mike Egerton


Kenwright hit a venerable milestone in 2017, and BBC Radio 2 marked his 50 years in showbusiness with a concert at the London Palladium featuring music from his hit shows. It was not a stellar year in 2017, but there were still projects to get excited about from the impresario synonymous with the touring circuit. Evita returned to the West End for a 12-week run over the summer, later followed by a stage version of The Exorcist, and Kenwright also brought Cilla the Musical to Liverpool, which then went on tour. Clearly his passion for the theatre remains undimmed and even his beloved Everton are showing signs of life. Last year: 17

25 David Ian

David Ian
David Ian


Whether as a producer or a co-producer, Ian has a history of replicating big-name musicals to the highest standards on the road. Among the highlights on the home front last year was his co-production of Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre, which marked the West End debut of Miranda Hart. He built on his partnership with the Leicester Curve with a co-production of Scrooge, as well as Sunset Boulevard – which then headed on a domestic tour. Ian’s musicals also hit most continents as he toured The Bodyguard, Cats, Evita and The Sound of Music. Last year: 21

Read our interview with David Ian 

26 Imelda Staunton

Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton. Photo: Helga Esteb/Shutterstock


Stephen Sondheim was desperate for Staunton to play Sally in the National Theatre’s revival of Follies last year and it was not hard to see why. She followed her stellar turn as “Mama” Rose in Gypsy in 2015 with another tour de force. The critics hailed her as “unforgettable”, “dazzling” and “spectacular”. It was a superb return to the theatre where she made her London stage debut in 1982. Staunton’s other standout role in 2017 was Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. She even managed to stop audiences munching on snacks during the show. New entry

Follies review at the National Theatre, London – ‘not just triumphant, but transcendent’

27 Toni Racklin

Toni Racklin
Toni Racklin

Barbican Centre, London

Racklin continues to oversee a fresh, impressive and eclectic programme that brings some of the world’s finest theatremakers to the brutalist venue in the City of London. Highlights in 2017 included Yukio Ninagawa’s Macbeth, Blak Whyte Gray by Boy Blue Entertainment, and the return of the extraordinary six-hour Roman Tragedies in Dutch from Ivo Van Hove’s company Toneelgroep Amsterdam. The Barbican also hosted work by Robert Lepage and transfers from the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Coriolanus and Titus AndronicusLast year: 36

28 Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire

Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire
Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire

Trafalgar Entertainment Group

Theatre’s first couple – who topped The Stage 100 for seven years in a row – are getting used to life outside the top 10. After leaving Ambassador Theatre Group in 2016 following its private-equity takeover, they started Trafalgar Entertainment Group. It operates out of Trafalgar Studios, London with productions including The Philanthropist, Apologia and The Red Lion in 2017. A major production of The King and I at London Palladium is in the works. Last year: 30

29 Alistair Spalding

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

Sadler’s Wells Theatre

Sadler’s Wells rounded off a strong year with a nomination for The Stage award for producer of the year. Among the stand-out shows was Betroffenheit, which won an Olivier award, alongside work with the English National Ballet and the return of Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Swan Lake. Since 2016, it has co-commissioned and co-produced 16 new works. There were strong pieces by associate artist Wayne McGregor and the co-production of Akram Khan’s Giselle won several awards. It also hosted the first show of Carlos Acosta’s new company Acosta Danza. Last year: 38

Betroffenheit review at Sadler’s Wells – ‘electrifying dance-theatre’

30 Emma Rice and Neil Constable

Emma Rice and Neil Constable
Emma Rice and Neil Constable. Photos: Sarah Lee/Eliza Power

Shakespeare’s Globe

Replacing Rice was always going to be tricky for the Globe, especially given the handling of her exit. Which is why they blindsided everyone by a) keeping the incoming AD secret and b) appointing Michelle Terry, respected actor and Shakespearean to the core. Rice, meanwhile, leaves with much goodwill and her swansong – Romantics Anonymous – was acclaimed. She is off to run her new company Wise Children. Both parties are heading in exciting directions once more. Last year: 10

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