Sonia Friedman has taken the number one spot in The Stage 100, becoming only the second woman to top the list as a solo entry.
The Harry Potter and the Cursed Child producer knocks Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire, co-founders of Ambassador Theatre Group, off the top of the list, which recognises the most influential figures working in theatre today. The pair this year fall to number 30 after being replaced at ATG as joint chief executives by Mark Cornell and Adam Kenwright, who are this year’s number four.
Friedman described topping the list as “amazing recognition of the extraordinary people I have been privileged to work with over the year”.
“I feel very grateful to The Stage for this honour and feel extremely lucky to do a job I love so much,” she added.
Panter and Squire paid tribute to Friedman, saying it had been a “great privilege” to have shared the last 17 years of her journey. Sonia Friedman Productions is a subsidiary of ATG.
They described Friedman as a producer at “the top of her game”. Friedman is the first woman to top the list since Janet Holmes a Court in 1998.
Alistair Smith, print editor of The Stage, described Friedman as a “phenomenon” and the “undisputed Queen of Theatreland”.
The top 10 this year, which features a 50% increase in women, also included Emma Rice, who last year announced she would be leaving Shakespeare’s Globe as artistic director, at number 10. Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham, leaders of the Donmar Warehouse, are placed at number nine.
Others in the list include Kenneth Branagh, who is the highest placed solo actor in recognition of his season of work at the Garrick Theatre (18), and Harry Potter star Noma Dumezweni, who moved up 55 places from last year (to 22).
Dumezweni is one of seven black, Asian and minority ethnic performers in the list, up from five the year before. Others include Paapa Essiedu at 71 for his performance as Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Lucian Msamati for his performance in Amadeus at the National Theatre (89).
New entrants in the 2017 list include Tim Minchin, the composer of Groundhog Day and Matilda (46), John Tiffany, the director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (15) and Phyllida Lloyd, director of the all-female Shakespeare trilogy that ran at the King’s Cross Theatre (20).
The Stage 100 was first published in 1997.