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The Stage 100 2019: 71-80

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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

71. Emma Gladstone

Emma Gladstone. Photo: Tomlin.co

Dance Umbrella

Gladstone is artistic director and chief executive of London dance festival Dance Umbrella, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018. The programme included a variety of contemporary dance staged across the capital, from a daring adaptation of Samuel Pepys’ diaries by New York’s Big Dance Theater to Sasha Milavic Davies’ large-scale Everything That Rises Must Dance, which saw a cast of 200 women take over Somerset House’s courtyard. Gladstone also announced a commissioning fund to champion new choreographic talent. New entry

72. Maureen Beattie

Maureen Beattie. Photo: David Jensen


The Scottish actor became only the second woman to be elected president of Equity when she succeeded Malcolm Sinclair last year, and quickly established herself as a champion for the union’s members and an advocate for change. She made the fight to stamp out sexual harassment in the industry a priority, and speaks strongly about issues including the need for gender parity and increased diversity in theatre. On stage, 2018 saw her appear in the New York transfer of Yerma and in Death of a Salesman at the Royal Exchange opposite Don Warrington. New entry

73. Matthew Lopez

Matthew Lopez. Photo: Shutterstock


At the start of 2018 you might not have heard of this New York playwright, but fast forward a year and Lopez’s inclusion on this list is testament to the bona fide phenomenon of his play The Inheritance. The two-part, seven-hour marathon was one of David Lan’s final programming decisions at the Young Vic, where it premiered, directed by Stephen Daldry. The West End quickly beckoned. A return to New York, where the play is set, is surely on the cards, and more awards look likely after Lopez’s win for best play at the recent Evening Standard Theatre Awards. New entry

The Inheritance at Young Vic, London – review round-up

74. Natasha Gordon

Natasha Gordon. Photo: Alex Brenner
Natasha Gordon. Photo: Alex Brenner

Playwright and actor

Gordon found herself in groundbreaking territory last year when she became the first black British woman to have a play staged in the West End. It is a badge that comes with baggage, but one that should not overshadow the accomplishment of the play in question, Nine Night, which explores the Jamaican mourning tradition. That it transferred to Trafalgar Studios from the National Theatre is made more impressive by the fact that Nine Night is her debut play. Gordon, also an actor, returned to the stage in December to appear in the West End run. New entry

Nine Night author Natasha Gordon: ‘Where are our opportunities? The answers lie with the gatekeepers’

75. Nikolai Foster and Chris Stafford

Nikolai Foster and Chris Stafford. Photo: Ellie Kurttz
Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster. Photo: Ellie Kurttz

Curve, Leicester

The roll call of musicals at Leicester’s Curve continued apace in 2018 under Foster and Stafford, with the theatre fast becoming the launchpad for a number of major tours of popular shows, including Les Miserables and Matilda. In-house productions included An Officer and a Gentleman, in collaboration with producer Jamie Wilson, and a dazzling version of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, also with Wilson. Curve will collaborate with him again on the UK premiere of Gloria Estefan musical On Your Feet! and will also revive The Color Purple with Birmingham Hippodrome. Last year: 57

76. Laura Wade

Laura Wade. Photo: Helen Murray
Laura Wade. Photo: Helen Murray


Wade returned to theatre in characteristically strong form premiering not one, but two new works. First came Home, I’m Darling at Theatr Clwyd, which explores gender roles and marriage and was described by this paper’s critic as a “superb” new play. A run at the National Theatre followed, and it will transfer to the West End before visiting Salford, Bath and finally returning to Mold. Wade’s second premiere saw her bring to life Jane Austen’s unfinished novel The Watsons at Chichester Festival Theatre. It also received an enthusiastic critical reception and you wouldn’t bet against a future life in 2019. New entry

77. Sharon D Clarke

Sharon D Clarke. Photo: Marc Brenner
Sharon D Clarke. Photo: Marc Brenner


Clarke has for some time been among the UK’s most exhilarating and versatile performers, but this was amplified last year thanks to a knock-out performance in Caroline, Or Change – Michael Longhurst’s revival of the 2003 Civil Rights-era musical by Tony Kushner. The production premiered to acclaim in Chichester in 2017, and its success continued with a sell-out run at London’s Hampstead Theatre and a West End transfer, which extended booking before it even opened. Away from the stage, she appeared in Jodie Whittaker’s first episode of Doctor Who, and will this year star in Marianne Elliott’s Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic. New entry

The Stage Podcast: Panto special with Sharon D Clarke, Susie McKenna and Lyn Gardner

78. Sam Hodges

Sam Hodges. Photo: Alastair Muir
Sam Hodges. Photo: Alastair Muir

Nuffield Southampton Theatres

In Hodges’ fifth year as artistic director, Nuffield Southampton Theatres opened a second venue – NST City – giving it a presence in Southampton’s city centre. The multimillion-pound theatre complements NST’s existing building on the university’s out-of-town campus and includes a flexible, 450-seat main house and a smaller studio. The new theatre acts as the nerve centre for NST’s in-house work and has already staged six productions, including Don Carlos starring Tom Burke, SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill by Gbolahan Obisesan, new musical Women in Power and a musical adaptation of David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy. New entry

79. Gemma Bodinetz

Gemma Bodinetz. Photo: Helen Warner
Gemma Bodinetz. Photo: Helen Warner

Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse

The Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse’s artistic director has had a tough year. The theatre took a bold step when it reintroduced an in-house repertory company in 2016, but the strain this put on its finances forced it to abandon the project and drop out of Arts Council England’s national portfolio in December as it tries to regain its footing. Despite this, the rep company produced standout work in 2018, including a powerhouse performance from Golda Rosheuvel as a gender-swapped Othello, directed by Bodinetz, and a reimagining of Peer Gynt by Robert Farquar. Last year: 18

80. Tom Burke

Tom Burke. Photo: Paul Black
Tom Burke. Photo: Paul Black


Burke is best known for his screen work in dramas such as War and Peace, The Musketeers and as the title character in the BBC adaptations of JK Rowling’s Strike novels, but last year his return to the stage in Schiller’s Don Carlos came with added significance. It was the first production from Ara, a new company set up by Burke and Israeli director Gadi Roll, which co-produced the play with venues in Exeter, Southampton and Kingston. Burke speaks passionately about regional theatre and early signs from Ara indicate he will put that passion to good use in the coming years. New entry

Don Carlos starring Tom Burke review at Exeter Northcott Theatre – ‘bold, gutsy but over-stylised’

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

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