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The Stage 100 2019: 21-30

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The Stage 100, in association with Spektrix, is intended to reflect who are 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 both on theatre 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 to attempt to make it gender-balanced or ethnically diverse: we believe the list should aim to reflect how the theatre and performing arts industry is, not what it aims to be, or we would like it to be.

Top 5 6-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 71-80 81-90 91-100 Analysis

21. Madani Younis

Madani Younis. Photo: Richard Davenport

Bush Theatre

In 2018, Younis announced his departure from London’s Bush Theatre after six years, but he leaves the venue in fine fettle. Last year, his season included Monica Dolan’s The B*easts, and Arinze Kene’s Misty, which transferred to Trafalgar Studios. His ‘passing the baton’ initiative committed to producing one play a year by a British writer of colour from the 20th century, with a revival of Leave Taking by Winsome Pinnock, while other highlights included Vinay Patel’s epic An Adventure. Under Younis’ tenure, the Bush has become a trailblazer of greater diversity for both creative talent and audiences. A tough act to follow. Last year: 42

22. Nick Thomas

Nick Thomas, chairman and founder of Qdos Entertainment Group and its subsidiary HQ Theatres
Nick Thomas

Qdos Entertainment

Thomas is founder and chairman of Qdos, which through HQ Theatres manages 12 venues regionally, including the Lyceum in Crewe, the Orchard Theatre in Dartford and the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. The second-largest operator of regional venues after ATG, Qdos was formed in 1999. The company and its operating subsidiaries employ 1,500 full-time staff, and it is perhaps best known for its pantomime output – more than 30 across the UK, including at the London Palladium. This year’s offering featured Snow White, with Julian Clary at the London Palladium. Last year: 13

23. Michael Grandage

Michael Grandage. Photo: Alex Brenner
Michael Grandage. Photo: Alex Brenner

Michael Grandage Company

As if bringing Disney’s megahit Frozen to Broadway wasn’t enough to keep Grandage busy, the director still found time to stage two acclaimed productions in the West End in 2018. His revival of John Logan’s Red starred Alfred Molina and Alfred Enoch. Later in the year, Grandage directed Poldark actor Aidan Turner in a revival of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore, which earned Turner the best West End debut prize at The Stage Debut Awards. Grandage’s company also continued his extensive support of new talent through bursaries, while also acting as a general manager for other productions. Last year: 58

24. Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen. Photo: Oliver Rosser/Feast Creative


Not many actors approaching 80 would want to put themselves through the challenge of taking on King Lear, but McKellen is an actor who shows no signs of slowing down. Last year, Chichester Festival Theatre’s production transferred to the West End, where critics described his performance as “magnificent”, “spellbinding” and “wonderful”. When an injury forced him to miss a show, he instead gave an impromptu Q&A, showing himself to be a consummate professional. A peerless supporter of theatre across the UK, in 2019, as he begins his ninth decade, McKellen will tour to 80 theatres, with money raised going to the venues. New entry

25. Robert Icke

Robert Icke. Photo: Dave Benett


In early 2018, auteur Icke’s adaptation of Mary Stuart transferred from the Almeida to the West End, with Lia Williams and Juliet Stevenson alternating the roles of Mary and Elizabeth I. Time Out’s Caroline McGinn hailed it as “supremely sexy and intelligent”. Icke’s association with the Almeida continued with his adaptation of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, which, despite suffering some delays due to cast illness, became a hit. The Stage praised Icke’s ability to make productions feel fresh and create “moments of genuine shivers-down-your-spine theatrical magic”. Last year: 22

26. Matthew Bourne

Matthew Bourne. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
Matthew Bourne. Photo: Hugo Glendinning


In a busy year on and off stage, Bourne launched a revival of his much-lauded, all-male production of Swan Lake. His production of Highland Fling – an update of La Sylphide to near-contemporary Glasgow – was described as “a joyous romp” by The Stage. Bourne has been driving a campaign to make touring greener, working in partnership with Norwich Theatre Royal and Sadler’s Wells. His New Adventures also became the first touring company to work with Julie’s Bicycle on a Creative Green Touring certification, which provides a framework for sustainability. Last year: 21

Sadler’s Wells, Lyric Hammersmith and Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures link up to make touring greener

27. Paule Constable

Lighting designer Paule Constable
Paule Constable

Lighting designer

Constable’s name on a creative team is a good indicator of a quality production. In 2018, her shows included the National Theatre production of Nine Night, as well as returns of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and War Horse. On Broadway, she earned a nod at the Tony Awards for Angels in America. Off stage she has been at the forefront of a crucial campaign to save stage lighting from EU regulations that threatened to leave theatres dark. She helped ensure the issue was prominent and understood, winning a major reprieve for UK theatre. Last year: 89

Paule Constable: The prospect of theatres literally going dark is real

28. Stephen Daldry

Stephen Daldry. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge
Stephen Daldry. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge


The Billy Elliot director helmed two of the biggest hits of the year, both originating at the Young Vic. He co-directed The Jungle, which told the story of life in the Calais migrant camp, found its way to the West End and then New York. Later in the year, his production of The Inheritance transferred to the Noel Coward Theatre. This two-part production is based on Howard’s End, but tells the story through the eyes of gay men a generation after the Aids crisis. Both were astonishing works, from one of our finest creatives. New entry

29. Alistair Spalding

Alistair Spalding. Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Sadler’s Wells

Under Spalding’s leadership, Sadler’s Wells celebrated the 20th anniversary of its London theatre in 2018, with artists including Natalia Osipova, William Forsythe, Sharon Eyal and Akram Khan presenting new work. Xenos marked Khan’s final performances as a solo dancer, while A Quiet Evening of Dance was Forsythe’s first full programme since closing his company. Off stage, Spalding worked on the East Bank project: a 550-seat theatre alongside a new centre for choreographic practice and a hip-hop academy, both the first of their kind in the UK. Last year: 29

30. Bill Kenwright

Bill Kenwright. Photo: Mike Egerton


The touring circuit would be a lot quieter if Kenwright weren’t around. In 2018, he brought UK audiences shows including Evita, Blood Brothers, starring Linzi Hateley, and Cilla the Musical.

Plays were in the mix too, with a stage version of Rain Man, starring Mathew Horne. Meanwhile his West End shows included Heathers and Foxfinder.

Even if they’re not always critical successes, Kenwright’s productions are popular with audiences and support many a receiving house around the UK. Last year: 24

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