NEWS: Sonia Friedman knocks ATG co-founders off The Stage 100 top spot

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Harry Potter producer Sonia Friedman tops theatre’s 2017 power list. She’s been placed number one in The Stage 100, The Stage newspaper’s definitive guide to the most influential figures working in the UK theatre and performing arts industry, published today (5 January 2017).

Friedman, who came second in the 2016 list, has been responsible for some of 2016’s biggest hits including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Dreamgirls, Funny Girl and Nice Fish starring Mark Rylance.

Friedman is only the second women to top the list as a solo entry in a strong year for women throughout the list which includes a 50% increase in women in the top 10. She is also the first number one not to to own or operate West End theatres.

Dramatically displaced from the number one slot in The Stage 100 are Ambassador Theatre Group co-founders, and husband and wife, Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire, who jointly topped the list for a record-breaking seventh time in January 2016. In news that rocked the industry in May last year, the couple stepped down as joint chief executives, replaced by corporate CEO Mark Cornell.

Today Squire and Panter paid tribute to Friedman, whose company Sonia Friedman Productions has been a subsidiary of ATG since 2000. They said: “It has been a great privilege to share the last 17 years of Sonia’s journey as a producer, and to create the right environment for her to grow and flourish. So, with enormous pride, now Sonia is truly at the top of her game, we are delighted to see her deservedly take over the number one spot of The Stage 100.”

Friedman has also been nominated for Producer of the Year in The Stage Awards, which are announced on 27 January – she has won for the past two years. Speaking of The Stage 100 today, Friedman said:

‘‘This is an amazing recognition of the extraordinary people I have been privileged to work with over the year, and also of my sensational team at SFP who helped me produce / co-produce and develop over 20 shows in 2016 and who are already preparing for an even busier 2017. I am very grateful to The Stage for this honour and feel extremely lucky to do a job I love so much and to have had such a stimulating and creatively diverse year. Thank you!’’

In other highlights in the 2017 Stage 100:

  • High risers in the list include National Theatre artistic director Rufus Norris and his executive team, who move into the top five for the first time since appointment.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has seen success across all industry sectors in The Stage 100, with entrants from director John Tiffany (15), actor Noma Dumezweni (22), playwright Jack Thorne (50), and sound designer Gareth Fry (92). Dumezweni’s appearance as Hermione Granger has moved her up 55 places from last year.
  • There has only been a 2% increase (to 34%) in representation of women in The Stage 100 since last year. However, it is significant that the number of women represented in the top ten has increased significantly, up 50% on 2016. Two actresses who took on male roles also feature in the list this year: Glenda Jackson (71) who played King Lear at the Old Vic and Michelle Terry (90) who played Henry V at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
  • The highest placed actor this year is Kenneth Branagh (18), after his first programme of shows with the Kenneth Branagh theatre company at the Garrick. Dumezweni was the second highest placed performer this year, but throughout the list there remain only seven entries from black, Asian and minority ethnic professionals, up from five last year. These include Paapa Essiedu (70) for his performance as Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Lucian Msamati for his performance in Amadeus at the National Theatre (88).
  • Other entrants in The Stage 100 2017 include Andrew Lloyd Webber (2), Matthew Bourne (28), Sheridan Smith (40), Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (44), Tim Minchin (46), Mark Rylance (48), Billie Piper (60), Simon Russell Beale (65) and Maxine Peake (66).
  • Sonia Friedman is the first woman to top The Stage 100 list since 1998. In 1998, Stoll Moss Theatres boss Janet Holmes a Court was number one. At that time, Stoll Moss was the West End’s leading theatre operator.
  • The producer replaces Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire in the number one slot of The Stage 100. The co-founders of Ambassador Theatre Group had held the top position since 2009 and are, historically, the most successful ever entrants on the list. However, the pair have dropped to number 30 in this year’s list after they were replaced as joint chief executives at ATG. Their successors, new chief executive Mark Cornell and executive vice president Adam Kenwright enter at number 4.

Alistair Smith, print editor of The Stage, said: “Sonia Friedman has enjoyed a number of notable hits in recent years – including Jerusalem starring Mark Rylance and The Book of Mormon – but in 2016, she went stratospheric.”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was always likely to be a licence to print money. What has made it really special was that Friedman and her fellow creatives resisted the temptation to treat the production as a cash cow and created something truly magical, original and – above all – theatrical.”

“In addition to creating the year’s most popular play, she also has a fair claim to having produced 2016’s most anticipated musical in Dreamgirls. She is a phenomenon and now undisputed Queen of Theatreland.”


The Stage 100 is published each January

1. Sonia Friedman
2. Andrew Lloyd Webber
3. Cameron Mackintosh and Nicholas Allott
4. Mark Cornell and Adam Kenwright
5. Rufus Norris, Lisa Burger and Ben Power
6. Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer
7. Gregory Doran, Catherine Mallyon, Erica Whyman
8. David Lan and Lucy Woollatt
9. Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham
10. Emma Rice and Neil Constable
11. Daniel Evans and Rachel Tackley
12. Michael Harrison
13. Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis, Nick Salmon
14. Matthew Warchus
15. John Tiffany
16. Kenny Wax
17. Bill Kenwright
18. Kenneth Branagh
19. David Babani
20. Phyllida Lloyd
21. David Ian
22. Noma Dumezweni
23. Robert Icke
24. Thomas Schumacher
25. Rupert Goold
26. Nick Thomas
27. Jeremy Herrin
28. Matthew Bourne
29. Indhu Rubasingham
30. Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire
31. Sarah Frankcom
32. Edward Snape
33. Caro Newling
34. Robert Hastie and Dan Bates
35. Gemma Bodinetz and Deborah Aydon
36. Toni Racklin
37. Timothy Sheader and William Village
38. Alistair Spalding
39. Vicky Featherstone
40. Sheridan Smith
41. Nikolai Foster and Chris Stafford
42. Julian Bird
43. Michael McCabe
44. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart
45. Fiona Allan
46. Tim Minchin
47. Tristan Baker
48. Mark Rylance
49. Jenny Sealey
50. Jack Thorne
51. David Hare
52. James Grieve and George Perrin
53. David Grindrod and Pippa Ailion
54. Purni Morell
55. Alex Beard
56. Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields and Henry Lewis
57. Mark Goucher
58. Michael Grandage
59. Nick Starr and Nicholas Hytner
60. Billie Piper
61. David Greig
62. Tom Morris
63. Fergus Linehan
64. Jonathan Kent
65. Simon Russell Beale
66. Maxine Peake
67. Sean Holmes
68. Peter Wilson
69. Tamara Rojo
70. Paapa Essiedu
71. Glenda Jackson
72. Kully Thiarai
73. Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood
74. Jamie Hendry
75. Andrew Wright
76. James Graham
77. Jackie Wylie
78. Marianne Elliott
79. Danny Moar and Laurence Boswell
80. Hofesh Shechter
82. Cassie Raine and Anna Ehnold-Danailov
83. Madani Younis
84. Michael Longhurst
85. James Dacre and Martin Sutherland
86. David Jubb
87. Emma Brunjes and Les Enfants Terribles
88. Lucian Msamati
89. James Brining and Robin Hawkes
90. Michelle Terry
91. Tamara Harvey
92. Gareth Fry
93. Giles Croft and Stephanie Sirr
94. David Byrne
95. Paule Constable
96. Emily Dobbs
97. Anna Fleischle
98. Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway
99. Lez Brotherston
100. Natasha J Barnes and Ria Jones

To read complete details for each entry, visit The Stage website.

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Press Releases on Twitter
Press Releases
MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.

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