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ATG Tops Stage 100 Ahead of Subsidised Houses

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Industry newspaper The Stage has today (6 January 2011) announced its 15th annual guide to the most influential people in UK theatre, The Stage 100, which is topped for the second year in a row by the joint chief executives of Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), husband and wife Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire.

In a move which the paper says "reflects the increased influence and importance of the subsidised sector" - whose output has dominated the recent awards season - the Royal Court's Dominic Cooke, the out-going artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse Michael Grandage and director of the National Theatre Nicholas Hytner are listed as tied for second place, a small move for most who were all within the top ten on last year's list.

For the first time in the list's 15 year history, neither Andrew Lloyd Webber nor Cameron Mackintosh has placed in the top two. Lloyd Webber finds himself relegated to sixth position - down three from last year - while Mackintosh also slips three places to fifth.

Alistair Smith, the paper's deputy editor suggests the shift represents "a new world order for the theatre industry" with power moving away from the pair of impresarios to ATG which he calls "a company run on finance, with shareholders to answer to." Lloyd Webber has won top place on the list a total of six times, holding the record for most number one appearances. He is closely followed by Mackintosh with five pole positions.

The remainder of the top ten is dominated by those in charge of London's theatres, including the Menier Chocolate Factory's David Babani and Nimax co-owners Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer.

Amongst new entries to the top 20 are Ruth Mackenzie, director of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, artistic director of the Young Vic David Lan, the Barbican Centre's director of programming Louise Jeffreys and Sheridan Smith, the out-going star of West End musical Legally Blonde who slips in at number 20. Smith joins Mark Rylance, who conquered the West End with his performance in Jerusalem, as the only actors in the top 20.

Directors listed in this year's top 100 include National Theatre associate Howard Davies who was recently recognised with a CBE, After the Dance director Thea Sharrock and Matthew Warchus, who moves from the critically acclaimed RSC musical Matilda to bring Ghost the Musical to the Piccadilly later this year.

Among writers featured are the prolific Alan Ayckbourn whose Season's Greetings is currently playing in rep at the National Theatre, Mike Bartlett, whose climate change play Earthquakes in London played the NT Cottesloe last year, and Royal Court success stories Nina Raine, Anya Reiss and Laura Wade.

A number of veteran performers make the list with All My Sons stars David Suchet and Zoe Wannamaker joining Roger Allam, Simon Russell Beale, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi and Michael Gambon after successes last year. A number of newer faces are also named, with Benedict Cumberbatch, Ramin Karimloo and Rory Kinnear all making it into the top 100.

The full top 20 is as follows (last year’s position):

1.   Howard Panter/Rosemary Squire (Ambassador Theatre Group) (1)
2=  Dominic Cooke (Royal Court, London) (7)
2=  Michael Grandage (Donmar Warehouse) (4)
2=  Nicholas Hytner (National Theatre) (5)
5.   Cameron Mackintosh (Cameron Mackintosh Ltd) (2)
6.   Andrew Lloyd Webber (Really Useful Group) (3)
7.   Nica Burns / Max Weitzenhoffer (Nimax) (6)
8.   Michael Boyd (Royal Shakespeare Company) (7)
9.   Bill Kenwright (Bill Kenwright Ltd) (8)
10.  Kevin Spacey / Sally Greene (10)
11.  Nick Thomas (Qdos) (11)
12.  Sonia Friedman (Sonia Friedman Productions) (12)
13.  David Babani (Menier Chocolate Factory) (14)
14.  Ruth Mackenzie (Director, Cultural Olympiad) (New Entry)
15.  Mark Rylance (Actor) (20)
16.  Jonathan Church (Chichester Festival Theatre) (15)
17.  Louise Jeffreys (Barbican Centre) (New Entry)
18.  Rupert Goold (Headlong Theatre / director) (17)
19.  David Lan (Young Vic Theatre) (New Entry)
20.  Sheridan Smith (Actor) (New Entry)

Also announced by The Stage today, but presented for the first time, are The Stage 100 Awards. Recognising the work of entire organisations and the teams behind them, instead of individuals, The Stage hopes the new awards, which will be presented at a party at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, will "recognise the outstanding organisations working in theatre today."

The judging panel, which was chaired by the paper's deputy editor Alistair Smith, presented awards in five categories. The winners are:

London Theatre of the Year - The Royal Court Theatre

Regional Theatre of the Year - Northampton Royal and Derngate

Fringe Theatre of the Year - Finborough Theatre

Producer of the Year - English Touring Theatre

Performing Arts School of the Year - Sylvia Young Theatre School

Calling the Royal Court "the UK’s new writing powerhouse" The Stage awarded the prize for London Theatre of the Year with a unanimous decision, citing a list of new plays which is called "the year's best" including Clybourne Park, Tribes, Posh, The Empire, Sucker Punch and Spur of the Moment. The judges also praised the theatre for its West End and Broadway transfers and its 'Theatre Local' season which took its work to a shopping centre in Elephant & Castle.

In what the judges referred to as a "hotly contested category", the Royal and Derngate was praised for work such as its 'Young America' season and the TMA Best Director Award picked up by artistic director Laurie Sansom. Productions such as the theatre's End of the Rainbow (now to the West End's Trafalgar Studios) and its strong audience development work also contributed to the venue winning the Regional Theatre of the Year prize.

In its 30th anniversary year the Finborough Theatre's season boasting 44 premieres of new plays and musicals. The judges also praised the venue's ability to rediscover lost classics with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical State Fair transferring to Trafalgar Studios alongside Dream of the Dog starring Janet Suzman. All the more an accomplishment, the citation reminds us, for a "diminutive fringe venue" which does not receive outside funding.

Winning the Producer of the Year prize English Touring Theatre were praised for "getting plays made and getting them seen by as many people as possible" under the guiding hand of director Rachel Tackley. The company's productions last year included The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain, Lovesong by Che Walker, Canary by Jonathan Harvey and a new work by Simon Stephens.

Finally in the Performing Arts School of the Year category the prize was awarded to the Sylvia Young Theatre School, the full-time school for ten to 16 year olds which has been educating children who have appeared in West End shows for nearly 30 years. Former pupils include Legally Blonde star Denise Van Outen, Spice Girl Emma Bunton and EastEnder Matt Di Angelo. The judging panel also praised the school's "flourishing" part-time and summer classes. The school also moved to spacious new premises last year, allowing intake to increase by a fifth and a sixth form to be added.

Full details of The Stage's 100 most influential people list and Stage 100 Awards can be found in the newspaper's 6 January 2011 edition.


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