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Scots take centre stage in theatre industry

SOME of Scotland's leading names in theatre have emerged as among the top 100 most influential in their field by the industry's "bible", The Stage.

The husband-and-wife partnership of Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire – joint chief executives of the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) which runs the Theatre Royal in Glasgow – top the list, called The Stage 100, for the third year in row.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh, laird of the Nevis Estate in the Highlands and wealthy musicals impresario, is tied in fourth place.

Also in the top 20 is Nica Burns, the owner of Nimax theatres and one of the key figures of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, running its annual prestigious comedy award.

Outside the top 20 – which after the leading names is organised by category rather than in order – are Vicky Featherstone, the artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, and one of its leading directors, John Tiffany, who directed its greatest success so far, Black Watch.

There is also a new entry in the top 100 for Cora Bissett, the Scottish actress and director who received plaudits for her Fringe show Roadkill, winner of a Bank of Scotland Herald Angel. She also won the best actress award at the Fringe in 2009 for her role in David Greig's Midsummer.

Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, who run Fringe venue Underbelly, are also included, as is Dominic Hill, the new artistic director of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.

Last night Alistair Smith, deputy editor of The Stage, said: "Traditionally, Scottish theatre has always been pretty strongly represented in The Stage 100 and the National Theatre of Scotland has been an ever- present since the company was launched.

"Cora Bissett has been a big figure in Scottish theatre scene for some time – and a previous winner of The Stage Award for Acting Excellence at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – but has really come to wider prominence this year thanks to the success of Roadkill."

In the section on performers, among the well-known names are James Corden and Benedict Cumberbath, Derek Jacobi and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Artistic director Nicholas Hytner and executive director Nick Starr from the National Theatre in London are placed second in the top 20, while Michael Boyd and Vikki Heywood, who occupy the same positions at the Royal Shakespeare Company, are placed third.

Mr Smith added: "ATG has cemented its place at the top of The Stage 100 – they are now UK theatre's undoubted commercial superpower.

"Elsewhere, you can see the increasing strength of the subsidised sector within the list.

"Especially from an artistic point of view, productions from subsidised theatres – like Matilda and One Man Two Guvnors – are really dominating proceedings and it has been a particularly strong year for the National, RSC and Chichester Festival Theatre."

The Stage 100, launched in January 1997, represents the paper's choice of the most influential people involved in UK theatre over the previous 12 months.

The list does not include agents, PRs or politicians, only those directly involved in the making of theatre.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has won first place more times than anyone else, being top six times.

Cameron Mackintosh is second, having secured top spot five times, in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2008 and in 2009.

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