Theatre producer Sonia Friedman has topped this year's Stage 100, a list of the UK's most influential people in performing arts, it is the first time she has topped the list, which is compiled by theatre publication The Stage. Friedman's recent credits include Dreamgirls, Nice Fish, Funny Girl and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
She is the first number one in the history of the Stage 100 not to own or operate West End theatres. Friedman, who is only the second woman to top the list as a solo entry, said she was "very grateful" for the honour. "I feel extremely lucky to do a job I love so much and to have had such a stimulating and creatively diverse year," she added. The only other woman to top the list was Stoll Moss Theatres boss Janet Holmes a Court in 1998.
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 were 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."
John Tiffany, who directed the Harry Potter play, is number 15. There were also appearances from actress Noma Dumezweni (at 22), who plays Hermione, and the show's playwright Jack Thorne (50). National Theatre artistic director Rufus Norris and his executive team climbed into the top five for the first time since his appointment. 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.
Last year's list was topped by Sir Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire, the co-founders of Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), the pair had held the top position every year since 2009, making them the most successful entrants in the list's history. However, they dropped to number 30 this year after stepping down from ATG in May.