The awards, judged by a panel that includes Playbill.com London correspondent Mark Shenton and other contributors to The Stage, coincide with the paper's annual Stage 100 feature of the most influential figures in the British theatre scene.
Heading the list of the U.K.'s most influential figures are Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire, the joint chief executives of Ambassador Theatre Group, the biggest theatre operator in the West End and regionally, as well as prominent theatre producers in the U.K.. who also regularly operate in America and Australia. In second place are the National Theatre's Nicholas Hytner and executive director Nick Starr; in third place, the Royal Shakespeare Company's Michael Boyd and executive director Vikki Heywood (who have both announced their intention to depart the company in 2012).
In joint fourth place are composer and theatre owner Andrew Lloyd Webber, and producer and theatre owner Cameron Mackintosh. Also in the top ten are Chichester's Jonathan Church and Alan Finch, departing Donmar Warehouse artistic director Michael Grandage, Cultural Olympiad director Ruth Mackenzie and departing Royal Court artistic director Dominic Cooke.
Others on the Top 20 list include producer Sonia Friedman (who regularly works on Broadway as well as in the West End), Kevin Spacey (for his role as artistic director at the Old Vic) and his chief executive Sally Greene, director Josie Rourke (who has led the Bush Theatre and now replaces Grandage at the Donmar), director Matthew Warchus (who directed Ghost, now Broadway-bound, and Matilda in the West End last year) and composer Tim Minchin (who wrote the score for Matilda).
Of the remaining 80 entries on the list, honorees include directors Rob Ashford (now a regular fixture in London, where he was associate director to Michael Grandage at the Donmar Warehouse), Danny Boyle (for his return to his stage roots with Frankenstein at the National Theatre) and Mike Leigh; producer Judy Craymer (whose Mamma Mia! celebrated its 10th anniversary on Broadway last year) and performers Simon Russell Beale, Alfie Boe, James Corden, Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance, Sheridan Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Imelda Staunton and Michael Sheen. In honoring the National as Producer of the Year, the Stage 100 Awards recognized the theatre's own initiatives in transferring its own work elsewhere, including the long-running War Horse in the West End and also now on Broadway, and One Man, Two Guvnors, as well as supporting the work of other theatres, including Bristol Old Vic whose Swallows and Amazons it has co-produced in the West End and on tour.
The Bush Theatre was named London Theatre of the Year as it moved from its former premises above a pub to a new home of its own, while also producing what The Stage called "a vintage year for the new writing institution." Chichester Festival Theatre was voted Regional Theatre of the Year, with no less than six London transfers achieved in 2011 or already planned for 2012.
In addition to the Stage 100 Awards, a new award was created this year to award those who routinely shun the limelight but who "nevertheless play a crucial role in making sure the show goes on": the Unsung Hero Award was given to three recipients, Edwin Shaw (a West End box-office manager and supervisor for 50 years), children's chaperone Heather Miller, and Frances Coyle, who has worked at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre for over 40 years.