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The Stage 100 list is released

ATG joint chief executives Rosemary Squire and Howard Panter top The Stage's list of the 100 most influential people in UK theatre

Howard Panter with his wife and ATG co-founder Rosemary Squire
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

For the seventh year in a row, Ambassador Theatre Group joint chief executives Rosemary Squire and Howard Panter have topped The Stage's list of 100 most influential people in theatre.

The duo have overtaken Andrew Lloyd Webber who has been top of the list six times. New National Theatre artistic director Rufus Norris is on the list at number 12, which is the first time since 2001 that an NT director has been outside the top ten.

The top ten are producer Sonia Friedman at 2, Cameron Mackintosh and Nick Allott at 3, Lloyd Webber at 4, Peter Bazalgette and Darren Henley of Arts Council England at 5, the Young Vic's David Lan and Lucy Woollatt at 6, Greg Doran, Catherine Mallyon and Erica Whyman of the RSC at 7, Jonathan Church and Alan Finch of Chichester Festival Theatre at 8, Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer at 9 and the Almeida's Rupert Goold at 10.

This year there's a new entry for Benedict Cumberbatch at number 15 who is commended for using his 'star power' to raise money for the refugee crisis after Hamlet performances. Imelda Staunton has risen from 70 to number 16 in the list following her star turn in Gypsy.

The Stage's editor, Alistair Smith said: "The rise of Ambassador Theatre Group has been the defining feature of the last decade in the UK theatre industry. This private equity-owned company is by far the largest theatre company in the UK, and probably the world... It has been a good year for Arts Council England's Peter Bazalgette and Darren Henley (placed at number five), who secured an impressive funding settlement for the arts in 2015, and a great year for Sarah Frankcom at Manchester's Royal Exchange, which breaks into the top 20 for the first time."

This year's list was created using a new judging process, where 50 figures from the theatre and performing arts industry were invited to submit names they would rank from 1-5. The Stage's senior editorial contributors were invited to submit suggestions and a final judging panel decided on the list.