Theatre News

Elton John, Floella Benjamin, Sam Mendes, Olivia Newton-John and more make the New Year's Honours List

Awards were given to arts practitioners across the UK

James Graham, Natasha Gordon, Elton John, Floella Benjamin, Sam Mendes and Giles Terera
James Graham, Natasha Gordon, Elton John, Floella Benjamin, Sam Mendes and Giles Terera
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The 2020 New Year's Honour's List has been revealed, featuring a variety of arts pioneers and theatremakers.

Globally recognised musician Elton John, responsible for The Lion King and Billy Elliot (as well as the forthcoming Devil Wears Prada stage show) was made a Companion of Honour after being knighted in 1998.

Actor, writer and politician Floella Benjamin was made dame, as was music and theatre legend Olivia Newton-John, known for her starring role in Grease and her hit pop career.

Knighthoods were given to director Sam Mendes, formerly artistic director of Donmar Warehouse and director of The Ferryman and The Lehman Trilogy, as well as playwright Christopher Hampton, whose recent credits include translations of The Son at the Kiln and A German Life at the Bridge Theatre.

David Bintley, formerly director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, was knighted, as was presenter Humphrey Burton and director Steve McQueen.

Choreographer and director Stephen Mear was made CBE, as was actor Wendy Craig, actor Rudolph Walker, composer Errollyn Wallen, choreographer Kate Flatt and screenwriter Steven Knight.

Roy Alexander Weise
Roy Alexander Weise
(© Rob Logan)

Actor and Equity President Maureen Beattie was made OBE, as was Olivier Award-winning writer James Graham (Ink, Labour of Love). Roger Taylor, founder of Queen, was also made OBE, alongside Nigel Slater (whose biography Toast was recently adapted for the stage) and composer/mezzo-soprano Judith Bingham.

MBEs were given to Natasha Gordon, who made history by being the first black British female playwright to have a play staged in the West End, and Roy Alexander Weise, who directed that very play Nine Night. Weise is about to become co-artistic director of the Manchester Royal Exchange.

Two former co-artistic directors, James Grieve and George Perrin, were given MBEs, as was Mark Everett, who used to direct the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.

An MBE was also awarded to Olivier Award-winner Giles Terera, who originated the West End role of Aaron Burr in Hamilton. Activist Roger Griffith and actor Derek Griffiths were also made MBE for their work in the arts.

Leonie Scott Matthews was made a medallist of the Order of the British Empire for her word at Hampstead's Pentameters Theatre.