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Sonia Friedman (Photo: Jason Alden)

Sonia Friedman tops Stage 100 list

Published January 5, 2017

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child and Dreamgirls producer Sonia Friedman has been placed number one in this year’s The Stage 100, the newspaper’s annual guide to the most influential figures working in the theatre and performing arts industry.

Sonia has been responsible for some of 2016’s biggest hits, including the aforementioned acclaimed boy-wizard drama and the smash-hit soul musical, as well as recent West End hits Nice Fish and Funny Girl. She is only the second woman to top the list as a solo entry in the list’s history – the first since 1998 – and is the first number one not to own or operate West End theatres.

Of the announcement, 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!’’ 

Last year’s number ones, Ambassador Theatre Group co-founders Rosemary Squire and Howard Panter, who are historically the most successful ever entrants on the list, are at number 30 this year, having stepped down as joint chief executives at ATG.

The husband and wife duo paid tribute to Sonia, commenting: “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.”

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child also witnessed success across all industry sectors, with director John Tiffany placing at number 15, actress Noma Dumezweni, who plays Hermione, placing at number 22, playwright Jack Thorne at number 50, and sound designer Gareth Fry at position 92.

High risers in the list include National Theatre artistic director Rufus Norris and his executive team, who move into the top five, while Kenneth Branagh is the highest placed actor this year at number 18, following his lauded first programme of shows with the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company at the Garrick last year.

Our very own Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, rose to position number 42 on the list.

The full list can be viewed on The Stage’s website.

Top 20 (last year’s positions in brackets):

  1. Sonia Friedman (2)
  2. Andrew Lloyd Webber (4)
  3. Cameron Mackintosh and Nicholas Allott
  4. Mark Cornell and Adam Kenwright (new entry/41)
  5. Rufus Norris, Lisa Burger and Ben Power (12)
  6. Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer (9)
  7. Gregory Doran, Catherine Mallyon, Erica Whyman (7)
  8. David Lan and Lucy Woollatt (6)
  9. Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham (13)
  10. Emma Rice and Neil Constable (new entry/11)
  11. Daniel Evans and Rachel Tackley (14/45)
  12. Michael Harrison (21)
  13. Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis, Nick Salmon (19)
  14. Matthew Warchus (34)
  15. John Tiffany (new entry)
  16. Kenny Wax (37)
  17. Bill Kenwright (17)
  18. Kenneth Branagh (23)
  19. David Babani (31)
  20. Phyllida Lloyd (new entry)

"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!"