The Stage 100 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.
It was a year of consolidation after Blavatnik became one of the West End’s major players with his acquisition of Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2018. In May, the Sunday Times Rich List revealed the Ukrainian-born billionaire was the wealthiest person in UK theatre. Only Fools and Horses extended its run at the Theatre Royal, and in his commitment to backing young creatives, Blavatnik donated £300,000 to Theatre Royal Haymarket’s charity, Masterclass. His group Warner Music also bought independent label, First Night Records. Last year: 9
Wax has cemented his reputation for taking quirky shows and turning them into international hits with Six. The musical has an open-ended run at London’s Arts Theatre and has made it to Australia, Canada and the US. Wax has worked the same magic with Mischief Theatre, helping turn one show into a global industry; last year, the company had three productions in the West End. Wax also has a roster of successful children’s shows including Oi Frog and Friends!. The Society of London Theatre president has spoken out about ticket costs, saying the industry should take a “good hard look” at pricing. New entry
Royal Shakespeare Company
The RSC made a bold statement in severing its sponsorship ties with BP. It also established a 30-strong youth advisory board, though the loss of revenue from Les Misérables raised worrying questions over its education work. The big stage opening was The Boy in the Dress, although a West End transfer goes unconfirmed. King John and Kunene and the King and Les Dennis made his Stratford debut. Last year: 17
Old Vic Theatre, London
Warchus put together a diverse programme of star-powered productions at the Old Vic in 2019, from Sally Field and Bill Pullman in All My Sons, to Andrew Scott’s Present Laughter and Claire Foy and Matt Smith in Lungs. Playwright Lucy Prebble also made a five-star return with A Very Expensive Poison. There was good news for the theatre in October, when Warchus extended his contract until 2023. He wants to oversee the completion of the ongoing capital project, saying it would be fulfilling to “build and strengthen the social mission” of the Old Vic. Last year: 37
The director with the Midas touch signed off in style from his role as associate director at the Almeida with The Doctor, starring Juliet Stevenson. That, and The Wild Duck, won him best director at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards in November. His modern-day adaptation of Oedipus, with Ivo van Hove’s Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, at the Edinburgh International Festival in August, was widely hailed, and a version starring Helen Mirren and Mark Strong will be in the West End this year. His productions of the Oresteia and Hamlet are also to be revived in New York.
It was an impressive year for production company Fiery Angel, which brought mountaineering drama Touching the Void into the West End. This followed the transfer of Florian Zeller’s The Son from the Kiln to the Duke of York’s Theatre and a revival of The Night of the Iguana. It also managed the return of Fleabag. The company is one of the biggest providers of children’s entertainment – last year Arts Council England backed its Children’s Theatre Partnership for three more years. Last year: 20
The Lion King celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019 and Mary Poppins was revived in November, starring Zizi Strallen. Disney’s global operation has continued to grow under Schumacher and the next big London opening comes later this year with Frozen, which will reopen Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Disney Theatrical Productions has also put money into supporting young people from diverse backgrounds, with scholarships to the Royal Academy of Music. New entry
It was an excellent year for Sadler’s Wells on stage, capped off by the five-star return of Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes last month. That wasn’t all – from Acosta Danza to Giselle and Russell Maliphant – it proved the receiving venue for the best of contemporary and modern classical dance from national and international companies. Spalding has also continued to speak out on the big issues facing dance, including the need for government support for contemporary dance in this country.
Last year: 29
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre staged what many have proclaimed the musical revival of the year with Jamie Lloyd’s take on Evita for the social media age. It won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for best musical and has been nominated at the WhatsOnStage Awards. The venue’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar returned to great acclaim. Hansel and Gretel, a co-production with ENO, was feel-good and A Midsummer Night’s Dream was bewitching and beguiling. Last year: 58
Royal Opera House
A year after the completion of the ROH’s renovation, more than one million people had passed through its doors. The main-stage work included revivals of Death in Venice and La Forza del Destino. The ROH committed to gender parity among composers and creative teams by 2022, and Beard is looking to bring in new audiences, though it did lose its appeal against the viola player who sued over acoustic shock. Last year: 18