Dramatis personae: The top 100 of British theatre

Who produces the hit shows? Who makes a musical magical? According to 'The Stage' magazine, it is those listed here who deserve all the applause. By Louise Jury
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The Independent Culture

1: David Ian

Last year: 2nd.

After five years at the top of The Stage's guide to the most influential people in theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber has finally been toppled.

As chairman of the theatrical division of the entertainment giant Clear Channel Entertainment (just renamed Live Nation), David Ian controls more seats in the UK than anyone else.

He runs more than 20 theatres and a handful of music venues in Britain, plus a slate of venues overseas.

He produced The Producers in the West End, co-produced the international tour of the National Theatre's My Fair Lady, and will next year produce a revival of The Sound of Music.

Originally an actor - he took over from David Cassidy in the musical Time - he began producing with the actor Paul Nicholas in 1990. His company merged with Clear Channel Entertainment five years ago.

He said he was "thrilled" to be in such illustrious company in The Stage 100. "This is a very exciting time for theatre in the UK and globally," he said yesterday.

2: Cameron Mackintosh

Last year: 4th.

The Stage predicted his name would rise up the list and it has, thanks to an expanding empire. The Albery and Wyndham's theatres are back in his portfolio and he's about to take over the Gielgud, which may become a London home for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Hit production Mary Poppins was his, too.

3=: Andrew Lloyd Webber

Last year: 1st.

Having decided to focus on musical theatre, the composer sold off four of his playhouses, reducing his influence. But The Woman in White is doing good business in the West End and America, Phantom is about to become the longest-running show on Broadway and there are plans for a new version of Sound of Music.

3=: Howard Panter & Rosemary Squire

Last year: 3rd.

Managing director and executive director respectively of Ambassador Theatre Group, the largest group in the West End. Last year, they opened Trafalgar Studio2 in London and took over the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, as well as launching a new panto business, First Family Entertainment.

5: Nica Burns & Max Weitzenhoffer

New entry.

Seasoned producers Burns, the mastermind behind the Perrier Awards, and Weitzenhoffer, an American oil millionaire, raised £11.5m to buy the Apollo, Garrick, Duchess and the Lyric - from Lloyd Webber. Burns put the Donmar back into the black. She also got Christian Slater to star in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

6: Michael Grandage

Last year: 16th.

"Man of the moment," says The Stage. The artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, London, has presided over such hits as The Philanthropist, Schiller's Mary Stuart and the current adaptation of Ibsen's Wild Duck as well as the company's first musical venture on to the West End stage, Guys and Dolls.

7: Michael Boyd

Last year: 8th.

The artistic director has balanced the books of the previously troubled Royal Shakespeare Company while his programming has been "inspired" , The Stage says. Projects such as the Gunpowder Season of plays have just transferred to London. This year, the RSC will present Shakespeare's entire canon in a festival.

8: Nicholas Hytner

Last year: 5th.

The past year hasn't been quite as successful as his triumphant opening season, but the artistic director of the National Theatre is still warmly regarded for his efforts to bring new audiences to a challenging programme. Knock-out productions include Pillars of the Community starring Damian Lewis.

9: Sonia Friedman

Last year: 7th.

The enterprising producer who brought Brian Friel's The Home Place to London, got Sienna Miller on stage in As You Like It and backed James Nesbitt in Shoot the Crow, had another year of "quality, quantity and variety". She also produced The Woman in White. Friedman co-founded the Out of Joint theatre company with Max Stafford-Clark.

10: Bill Kenwright

Last year: 10th.

Has been busy with Night of the Iguana starring Woody Harrelson and A Few Good Men with Rob Lowe. But alongside work with the Hollywood stars, he helped take Elmina's Kitchen, Kwame Kwei-Armah's first play for the National, into the West End and helped The Big Life become the first British black musical in the West End.

11: Thomas Schumacher

Last year: 6th.

President of Walt Disney's Theatrical Group, Schumacher remains a major player in the West End thanks to the ongoing success of The Lion King, which he produced, and Mary Poppins, co-produced with Cameron Mackintosh. The Stage predicts his power will increase as Disney's UK theatrical division grows.

12: Graham Sheffield

New entry.

The artistic director of the Barbican Centre has turned producer since the departure of the Royal Shakespeare Company created space in his programme. Deborah Warner's Julius Caesar, with Ralph Fiennes and Simon Russell Beale, was a theatrical highlight of the year and Tintin, the centre's Christmas show, was hailed a delight.

13: Nick Thomas & Jon Conway

Last year: 9th.

Thomas and Conway, the two directors of Qdos, are the world's leading producers of pantomime, but they now face a challenge from new panto-providers, First Family Entertainment. Qdos also produces summer seasons and West End shows. Simply Ballroom, a spin-off of the ballroom phenomenon, is a new venture.

14: Kevin Spacey

New entry.

The Hollywood star turned artistic director of the Old Vic has made clear he is here to stay in the British theatrical scene. His first heavyweight role, Richard II, at the beginning of his second season in charge, pulled in big audiences. Forthcoming shows include the UK theatre directing debut of movie veteran Robert Altman.

15: Matthew Bourne

Last year: 16th.

The choreographer who changed the face of dance with his Swan Lake and its all-male corps de ballet returned with a major new production before Christmas, a version of the Tim Burton film Edward Scissorhands. Currently at Sadler's Wells, London, it will then embark on a national tour. Bourne also worked onMary Poppins.

16: Phil McIntyre

Last year 14th.

McIntyre is the producer behind We Will Rock You, the musical based on the songs of Queen and written by Ben Elton, which has defied expectations to become a West End stalwart. McIntyre was also behind the Little Britain tour, The League of Gentleman pantomime and, less successfully, Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques.

17: Sally Greene

New entry.

One of the best networkers in town, Greene said she would save the Old Vic and she has. She should be credited for having rejuvenated the historic London theatre and surrounding herself with a "dream team" of Kevin Spacey, Elton John and David Liddiment. She was also one of the backers of the Billy Elliot musical.

18: Harold Pinter

New entry.

Pinter has earned his place for a "truly great year" in which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature - using it to launch a searing indictment of American foreign policy. Health permitting, he is due to return to performing this year in Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape.

... and the other 80

DIRECTORS

Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot); Declan Donnellan (half of Cheek by Jowl theatre company, now at the Barbican); Gregory Doran (RSC associate director in charge of Gunpowder Season and Sir Antony Sher's partner); Richard Eyre (Mary Poppins, the Almeida's Hedda Gabler, London); Edward Hall (son of Sir Peter, directed acclaimed all-male The Winter's Tale); Jonathan Kent (ex-Almeida boss, director for Kristin Scott-Thomas in As You Desire Me at the Playhouse, London); Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia, made Schiller's Mary Stuart a hit); Rufus Norris (Blood Wedding, Almeida and Tintin at the Barbican); Trevor Nunn (The Woman in White, Kevin Spacey's Richard II, will direct Sir Ian McKellen in King Lear this year).

FRINGE/INDEPENDENT SECTOR

Anthony Alderson/Christopher Richardson (Edinburgh Pleasance venue); Paul Gudgin (runs Edinburgh Fringe festival); Paul Higgins (championed new writing at London venue Theatre 503); Abigail Morris (artistic director of Soho Theatre, London); Thea Sharrock (artistic director of The Gate in Notting Hill, London, tipped to head the Royal Court).

CHOREOGRAPHERS

Mark Baldwin (Rambert Dance Company); Peter Darling (Billy Elliot); Wayne Eagling (head of English National Ballet); Akram Khan (shortlisted for three National Dance Awards).

SUBSIDISED/REGIONAL THEATRE

Michael Attenborough (Almeida, London); Ian Brown (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Jonathan Church (new head of Chichester Festival Theatre); David Farr (Lyric, Hammersmith, London); Vicky Featherstone (National Theatre of Scotland); Jill Fraser (Watermill Theatre, Berks); Rupert Goold\Sean Holmes (Oxford Stage Company); Sir Peter Hall (50th anniversary production of Waiting for Godot in Bath showed how much theatre owes him); Greg Hersov/ Braham Murray (Manchester Royal Exchange); David Lan (Young Vic, London); Ruth Mackenzie/Martin Duncan/ Steven Pimlott (triumvirate departing the Chichester Festival Theatre); Brian McMaster (long-standing Edinburgh Festival chief now in his final year); Monica Mason/Antonio Pappano (ballet and opera brains at the Royal Opera House); Joanna Read (Salisbury Playhouse artistic director acclaimed for Arthur Miller's Playing for Time); Simon Reade (Bristol Old Vic); Ian Rickson (departing Royal Court chief); Mark Rylance/Dominic Dromgoole (old and new leaders of the Globe, London); Alistair Spalding (under whom dance at Sadler's Wells goes from strength to strength); Max Stafford-Clark (his company Out of Joint produced the extraordinary Talking to Terrorists); Mark Thomson (launched an exciting 40th anniversary season at the Edinburgh Lyceum); Stephen Unwin (dragged English Touring Theatre out of the doldrums); Samuel West (actor successfully turned artistic director of Sheffield Theatres).

ACTORS

Simon Russell Beale (award-winning performance in Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist and now Spamalot on Broadway); Michael Gambon (Falstaff in Henry IV Parts I and II at the National); Richard Griffiths (hero in Heroes, not least for rebuking mobile phone offenders); Greg Hicks (verse speaker acclaimed for Marlowe's Tamburlaine); Clare Higgins (Death of a Salesman and Night of the Iguana); Derek Jacobi (Don Carlos); Helen McCrory (Sienna Miller got the headlines but she won the critical plaudits in As You Like It); Ewan McGregor triumphant in Guys and Dolls); Sir Ian McKellen (launched "posh panto" trend as the Old Vic's Widow Twankey); Janet McTeer (Mary Queen of Scots in Schiller's Mary Stuart; Joanna Riding (from Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit to Arthur Miller's Playing For Time); Harriet Walter (a menacing Queen Elizabeth in Mary Stuart).

DESIGNERS

Lez Brotherston (Acorn Antiques and Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands ballet); Giles Cadle (Olivier winner for His Dark Materials, but also work at Sheffield and the Almeida); Bob Crowley (for jaw-dropping Mary Poppins and the National's The History Boys); Ian MacNeil (for Billy Elliot and Tintin); Christopher Oram (worked with his partner, the director Michael Grandage, on the hits Guys and Dolls and Don Carlos).

MUSICALS

Elton John/Lee Hall (Billy Elliot); Paul Joseph/Paul Sirett (whose The Big Life became the first black British musical in the West End); Richard Thomas/ Stewart Lee (team behind the controversial Jerry Springer - The Opera, which is about to tour).

COMMERCIAL PRODUCERS

Matthew Byam-Shaw (moneyman behind Don Carlos and Sheila Hancock's son-in-law); Mark Goucher (shows included Fame and Anything Goes); Raymond Gubbay (impresario about to bring Show Boat to the Royal Albert Hall); Thelma Holt (veteran who helped Sir Antony Sher take his show Primo to America); Richard Jordan (young producer to watch); Adam Kenwright (who also owns one of London's West End big marketing agencies); David Pugh (for a successful regional tour of Rebecca); Arielle Tepper (Broadway producer who supported Mary Stuart's transfer from London's Donmar to West End); Jon Thoday/Richard Allen-Turner (whose management company Avalon backed the Jerry Springer opera); Duncan C Weldon/Paul Elliott (worked together on As You Desire Me); Kevin Wood (a panto king this Christmas as chief executive of First Family Entertainment).

LITERARY

Richard Bean (Harvest for the Royal Court was many people's new play of the year); Alan Bennett (The History Boys roars on with a regional tour, a return to the National then Broadway); David Eldridge (for adapting Ibsen's Wild Duck and his own work at the Royal Court); Brian Friel (possibly the most performed modern playwright of 2005); David Grieg (a busy year included the award-winning new play Pyrenees and The Cosmonaut's Last Message at the Donmar); Kwame Kwei-Armah (the first living black British-born playwright to have work in London's West End); Mike Leigh (his first play for 12 years sold out before it opened at the National); Owen McCafferty (prolific and popular); Tom Stoppard (adapted Heroes from the French for London's West End).

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