For the first time in five years, Andrew Lloyd Webber has been beaten to the number one spot in industry newspaper The Stage’s list of the 100 leading theatrical movers and shakers. Topping the bill is producer David Ian, chairman of Clear Channel Entertainment (now Live Nation), whose recent credits include West End hit Guys and Dolls (co-produced with ATG) and The Producers. Ian ranked second last year; this is his debut in the top spot.

Lloyd Webber has been moved to joint third place in the list, which is published in The Stage today, alongside Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire of Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), behind Cameron Mackintosh in second place.

"While not an impresario in the same vein as Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber, he (Ian) has influence in the regions to which neither of them comes close. It is this nationwide reach and the truly global nature of Live Nation that helps him win – by a nose," the paper said.

The ranking comes weeks after the announcement of the spin-off of the $2.75 billion Clear Channel Entertainment (CCE), from its US conglomerate parent, Clear Channel Communications (See News, 15 Dec 2005). As of 21 December 2005, the newly renamed Live Nation has been operating as an independent, publicly traded company with three separate live entertainment divisions – theatrical, music and sports – also incorporating venue ownership and management. There is speculation that, after global rationalisation, the new company, or its parts, may be sold off to another market player. The implications for the UK’s theatrical landscape are still unclear, though the company has already made substantial redundancies.

Clear Channel (then called SFX) came into the UK market strong in 1999 when it acquired Britain’s then-largest theatre operator, the Apollo Leisure Group, for a sum of nearly £160 million. Amongst its London interests, the company counts the West End musical houses the Apollo Victoria, the Lyceum (pictured) and the Dominion. The majority of its theatres (21 in total) are based outside the capital, taking in such prominent regional houses as the Palace in Manchester and the Hippodrome in Bristol. Ian – formerly managing director of Clear Channel Entertainment Europe – has been appointed as the new head of the spun-off company’s theatrical division globally.

Selection for inclusion in The Stage 100 is based on the individual's assets, the number of people employed, the quality of product produced, risks taken and the overall contribution to the image and future of the theatrical industry. Only the top 20 individuals are ranked, with the remainder recognised by category of input.

Producers and artistic directors figure heavily in the top 20. New entrants include Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer going straight in at number five, having taken over four Really Useful Theatres playhouses in 2005 under the name Nimax; the Barbican’s Graham Sheffield at number 12; the Old Vic’s Kevin Spacey at 14 and Sally Greene at number 17; and the Menier Chocolate Factory’s David Babani and Danielle Tarento at number 20. Playwright Harold Pinter, who won this year’s Nobel Prize for literature, came in as a new entrant at number 18.

The only actor to make it into the top 20 was Nigel Havers, at number 19 thanks to his box office-boosting turn in the national tour of Rebecca. Amongst the thespians singled out in the overall 100 were Ian McKellen, Simon Russell Beale, Ewan McGregor, Clare Higgins, Helen McCrory, Joanna Riding, Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter.

Others in the top 100 included: playwrights Kwame Kwei-Armah, Richard Bean, Alan Bennett, Brian Friel, Mike Leigh and Owen McCafferty; the creators of Jerry Springer – The Opera, Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee; and designers Lez Brotherston, Ian MacNeil and Bob Crowley.

The complete list of The Stage's Top 20 is as follows:

1. David Ian, producer
2. Cameron Mackintosh, producer
3. Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire of ATG and Really Useful’s Andrew Lloyd Webber
5. Nimax’s Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer, producers/theatre owners
6. Michael Grandage, director
7. Michael Boyd, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company
8. Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of the National Theatre
9. Sonia Friedman, producer
10. Bill Kenwright, producer
11. Disney’s Thomas Schumacher, producer
12. Graham Sheffield, artistic director of the Barbican
13. Jon Conway/Nick Thomas, pantomime producers
14. Kevin Spacey, artistic director of the Old Vic
15. Matthew Bourne, choreographer/director
16. Phil McIntyre, producer
17. Sally Greene, chief executive of Old Vic Productions
18. Harold Pinter, playwright
19. Nigel Havers, actor
20. David Babani and Danielle Tarento, artistic directors of the Menier Chocolate Factory

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock