Year of the Producer: Women leading the way

Inspired by our adoption of Stage One as the charity for the 2012 Whatsonstage.com Awards,
we’re declaring this the “Year of the Producer” on Whatsonstage.com,
and are running a 12-month editorial series of interviews, blogs and
other features to give theatregoers a greater understanding of the
crucial role of the producer and an insight into the people who put on
the shows they love.

in honour of International Women’s Day, we present  (in alphabetical order) our list of top
female producers who have made their mark on the theatrical landscape in
recent years.

Nica Burns
Nica Burns has served as joint-owner and chief executive of Nimax Theatres
Limited since September 2005. She works as director and producer of the
Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards and has been artistic director of the
Donmar Warehouse and production director of Really Useful Theatres. Her
myriad credits include award-winning productions of Kiss
Me Kate
at the Victoria Palace and Medea
at the Queen’s Theatre, Man and Boy at the Duchess, One
Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
at the Garrick, A Moon for the
at the Old Vic and Rain Man at the Apollo. She
is currently behind the upcoming production of {Long
Day’s Journey Into Night::L279564219}
at the Apollo, starring David Suchet.

Judy Craymer
Judy Craymer is best known for producing the hit ABBA musical {Mamma
, of which she has overseen
34 productions around the world, in addition to the big screen adaptation, which became
the highest grossing musical film of all time. Prior to this, she worked as stage
manager at the Haymarket Theatre Royal, the Old Vic, and on the original
production of Cats for the Really Useful Theatre Company. She is
currently producing Viva Forever, a musical based on the songs
of the Spice Girls. 

Sonia Friedman
Known as a champion of new work, Sonia Friedman formed Sonia Friedman
Productions in 2002 as a subsidiary of the Ambassador Theatre Group, where
she spent three years as a producer. She also previously served as producer
and co-founder of Out of Joint, and as a producer at the National Theatre.
Her many credits include Jerusalem on Broadway and the West End,
The Children’s Hour at the Harold Pinter, Legally Blonde
at the Savoy and Top Girls at Trafalgar Studios. She’s behind
several current West End productions, including {Absent
}, {Hay
}, {Master
} and upcoming play, {The
Sunshine Boys::T703705777

Sally Greene
Billy Elliot producer Sally Greene created Criterion
Productions, later named Old Vic Productions, with Lord Richard Attenborough.
Currently run by Greene and Joseph Smith, Old Vic Productions have co-produced
over 100 productions in the West End which have won numerous Awards. Greene
is also chief executive of the Criterion and Greene Light Films, the proprietor
of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and three restaurants: The Cheyne Walk Brasserie,
The Waterloo Brasserie, and the Phene in Chelsea. Her theatre credits
include Cyrano de Bergerac, Jerusalem, The Real Thing and The
Prisoner of Second Avenue.

Thelma Holt
After a successful career as an actress, Thelma Holt, in partnership
with Charles Marowitz, founded the Open Space Theatre on Tottenham Court
Road in 1968, which became the forerunner of the London fringe. Subsequently,
she served as artistic and executive director for the Round House in Chalk
Farm, executive producer for the Theatre of Comedy and the head of touring
and commercial exploitation at the National Theatre. She formed Thelma
Holt Ltd in 1990, with recent credits including Ghosts
(Duchess), Bedroom Farce
(Duke of York’s) and Ninagawa’s Twelfth Night and Musashi
at the Barbican. She is behind this summer’s upcoming production of Cymbeline,
also at the Barbican.

Donna Munday
Current director of theatre production for Billy Elliot
and Working Title, Donna Munday served as interim chief executive at
both Sheffield Theatres and Nimax Theatres, chief executive at Royal &
Derngate Theatres, general manager for Really Useful Theatres, and finance
director for the Royal Court Theatre. In addition to her current work
for Billy Elliot and Working Title, Munday is a member
of the Industrial Relations Committee for the Theatrical Management Association
and a board member of the National Student Drama Festival.

Caro Newling
Caro Newling is most known for her work with Sam Mendes in the re-establishment of the Donmar Warehouse in 1992, forming Neal Street Productions with Mendes and Pippa Harris in 2003. Newling is currently represented in the West End by Shrek the Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane which will shortly be joined by Chichester transfer South Downs and The Browning Version. She is also currently developing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the musical stage. Her other credits include Three Days of Rain, The Painkiller, The Vertical Hour, The House of Special Purpose, All About My Mother, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Days of Wine and Roses, Anna in the Tropics and Fuddy Meers.

Kate Pakenham
Old Vic producer Kate Pakenham, who recently joined the Donmar Warehouse
as executive producer, has worked on The Norman Conquests, the
transatlantic Bridge Project and Cause Celebre among other productions
and founded Old Vic New Voices. She also created the Old Vic’s 24
Hour Plays
, a celebrity fundraising event and worked as a director
on television docu-soap Paddington Green.

Kim Poster
Kim Poster is chief executive of Stanhope Productions, a theatrical
producing company she founded in 2001. She has produced in the West End,
on Broadway, and throughout the United States, where she spent three years
in Los Angeles working at Paramount Pictures and Regent Pictures. After
training as an attorney specialising in entertainment law, she became
a member of the New York and California bars. Her credits include Eugene
O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Tennessee Williams’
Summer and Smoke and Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the

Rosemary Squire
With her husband Howard Panter, Rosemary Squire founded and runs the
Ambassador Theatre Group, which owns and operates 30 theatre venues in
the UK. In 2009, they oversaw the biggest theatre purchase of modern times
when they bought out Live Nation’s UK venues for £90 million.
Their recent West End production successes include musical Legally
Blonde, The Misanthrope
(with Keira Knightley), while they also
oversaw UK tours of Spamalot and The Rocky Horror Show. Understandably,
The Stage recently named Panter
and Squire the most influential people working in theatre for the
third year running.

Jenny Topper
Currently producing a national tour of The Clean House by Sarah
Ruhl, independent theatre producer Jenny Topper formerly stood as director
of the Bush Theatre and artistic director of Hampstead Theatre. In 2001,
she founded Square Deal Productions and her credits include Who’s Afraid
of Virginia Woolf
and The Goat or Who is Sylvia? by Edward
Albee, Martha, Josie, and the Chinese Elvis by Charlotte Jones,
and the stage adaptation of Terms of Endearment.

Carole Winter
Before establishing MJE Productions, Carole Winter helped set up the
Education Department at the English Shakespeare Company and the National
Theatre, where she worked for ten years and produced several small-scale
tours. A trustee of Mousetrap Theatre Projects and council member of Stage
One, Winter also headed a development team to create the new Soho Theatre
and Writers’ Centre, raising £1.2m in the process. Her recent credits
with MJE include Ghost the Musical,
Pygmalion, Ruby Wax: Losing It
and Carousel. MJE’s upcoming productions include a major West End revival of Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw starring Omid Djalili.