|Current: 2020 Laurence Olivier Awards|
|Awarded for||Best in London theatre|
|Presented by||Society of London Theatre|
The Laurence Olivier Awards, or simply the Olivier Awards, are presented annually by the Society of London Theatre to recognise excellence in professional theatre in London at an annual ceremony in the capital. The awards were originally known as the Society of West End Theatre Awards, but they were renamed in honour of the British actor Laurence Olivier in 1984.
The awards are given to individuals involved in West End productions and other leading non-commercial theatres based in London across a range of categories covering plays, musicals, dance, opera and affiliate theatre. A discretionary non-competitive Special Olivier Award is also given each year. The Olivier Awards are recognised internationally as the highest honour in British theatre, equivalent to the BAFTA Awards for film and television, and the BRIT Awards for music. The Olivier Awards are considered equivalent to Broadway's Tony Awards and France's Molière Award.
Since inception, the awards have been held at various venues and theatres across London, from 2012 to 2016 at the Royal Opera House, before moving to the Royal Albert Hall in 2017. Television coverage is broadcast in prime time on ITV, who acquired the rights from 2013 onwards, with radio coverage by Magic Radio.
The awards were established in 1976 by the Society of London Theatre as the Society of West End Theatre Awards and were designed by artist Tom Merrifield. The first ceremony was in December 1976 at the Café Royal. In 1984, British actor Laurence Olivier gave his consent for the awards to be renamed in his honour and they became known as the Laurence Olivier Awards.
Every year, judging panels for theatre, opera, dance and affiliate shows are put together by the Society of London Theatre.
For opera, dance and affiliates, each panel is made up of a mix of professional panellists (journalists, casting directors, arts administrators, publishers and other industry professionals chosen for their knowledge in the field) and members of the public who are passionate about London theatre. The panels first select the shows they consider most worthy of an Olivier Award nomination, then vote on a winner at the end of the judging period.
For the theatre awards, a longlist is compiled by a panel made up of members of the public, and submitted to SOLT members to vote on. Members may still vote outside of the list at this stage, except for in the four Supporting Actor/Actress categories (as these each contain thousands of eligible performers). The members’ votes are collated with those of the panellists to create the list of nominees. The nominees list is then voted on by both members and panellists to produce the winners.
Past hosts of the Olivier Awards ceremony include Michael Ball, Imelda Staunton, Clive Anderson, Gemma Arterton, Stephen Mangan, Hugh Bonneville, Sheridan Smith, Lenny Henry, Catherine Tate, and Jason Manford.
Presenters of individual awards include Diana, Princess of Wales, Richard E. Grant, Anthony Head, Sue Johnston, Angela Lansbury, James Nesbitt, Richard Wilson, Eddie Izzard, Sir Tom Stoppard, Barry Norman, Peter Barkworth, Daniel Radcliffe, Anthony Hopkins, Sue Lawley, Diana Rigg, Edward Fox, Tim Rice, Gary Wilmot, Jane Asher, Tom Conti, Denis Quilley, Angela Rippon, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lee Evans, Patti LuPone, Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Boyega, Michael Sheen, Meera Syal, Paul O'Grady, Julian Clary, and Juliet Stevenson.
The venue most associated with the Awards is Grosvenor House Hotel, which has housed the after-show reception nine times and hosted the whole event on four further occasions. As well as at the Grosvenor, the presentations have been held at the Albery Theatre (now Noël Coward), Café Royal, Dominion Theatre, London Palladium, Lyceum Theatre, Park Lane Hilton, Piccadilly Theatre, Royal National Theatre Olivier, Royalty Theatre (now Peacock), Shaftesbury Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Victoria Palace Theatre.
From 2012 to 2016 the awards ceremony was held at the Royal Opera House, moving to the Royal Albert Hall in 2017.
The first Laurence Olivier Awards to be broadcast on television was the 1981 ceremony, which was broadcast on BBC1. This continued until 1992, before a switch to BBC2 until 2003.The awards ceremony was then only broadcast on radio until 2011, when the BBC broadcast live interactive red-button coverage of the event, while Paul Gambaccini presented a programme on BBC Radio 2 with live coverage and interviews. The same coverage followed in 2012, before ITV secured the broadcast rights which saw the return of the Olivier Awards to mainstream television in 2013. This has continued in recent years, and the ceremony has also been broadcast on Magic Radio.
Some notable records and facts about the Laurence Olivier Awards include the following:
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre, more commonly known as the Tony Award, recognizes excellence in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in Midtown Manhattan.
Dame Sheila Cameron Hancock is an English actress and author. Hancock trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before starting her career in repertory theatre. Hancock went on to perform in plays and musicals in London, and her Broadway debut in Entertaining Mr Sloane (1966) earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in Play.
Michael Ashley Ball, OBE is an English actor, singer and broadcaster. He made his West End debut in 1985 playing Marius Pontmercy in the original London production of Les Misérables, and went on to star in 1987 as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera. In 1989, he reached number Two in the UK Singles Chart with "Love Changes Everything", a song taken from the musical Aspects of Love, where he played Alex. He played the role in London and on Broadway. His album Coming Home To You reached number one in the UK making it his 4th number one album to date. On 24 April 2020, Ball and Captain Tom Moore entered the UK Singles Chart at number one with a cover of "You'll Never Walk Alone", with combined chart sales of 82,000 making it the fastest-selling single of 2020 so far.
Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, is an English actress and singer. After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Staunton began her career in repertory theatre in the 1970s before appearing in various theatre productions in the United Kingdom.
Philip Mark Quast is an Australian actor and singer. He has won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical three times.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a 1979 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler. It is based on the 1973 play of the same name by Christopher Bond.
Tracey Bennett is an English stage and television actress. She trained at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in Clapham, London. She played the role of Sharon Gaskell in Coronation Street from 1982–1984 and then returning to the role in 1999.
Julia Kathleen Nancy McKenzie, is an English actress, singer, presenter, and theatre director. She has premièred leading roles written by both Alan Ayckbourn and Stephen Sondheim. On television, she is known for her BAFTA Award nominated role as Hester Fields in the sitcom Fresh Fields (1984–1986) and its sequel French Fields (1989–1991), and as Miss Marple in Agatha Christie's Marple (2009–2013).
Mrs. Lovett is a fictional character appearing in many adaptations of the story Sweeney Todd. Her Christian name is most commonly referred to as Nellie, although she has also been referred to as Amelia, Margery, Maggie, Sarah, Shirley, Wilhelmina and Claudetta. A baker from London, Mrs. Lovett is an accomplice and business partner of Sweeney Todd, a barber and serial killer from Fleet Street. She makes meat pies from Todd’s victims.
The Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Play is an annual award presented by The Society of London Theatre in recognition of achievements in commercial British theatre. The awards were established as the Society of West End Theatre Awards in 1976 and renamed in 1984 in honour of English actor Lord Olivier.
The Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical is an annual award presented by The Society of London Theatre in recognition of achievements in commercial British theatre. The awards were established as the Society of West End Theatre Awards in 1976, and renamed in 1984 in honour of English actor Lord Olivier.
The Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical is an annual award presented by The Society of London Theatre in recognition of achievements in commercial British theatre. The awards were established as the Society of West End Theatre Awards in 1976, and, renamed in 1984 in honour of English actor Lord Olivier. The Olivier Awards are the most prestigious theatrical awards in the United Kingdom and are the UK equivalent of the Tony Awards.
The Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival is an annual award presented by The Society of London Theatre in recognition of achievements in commercial British theatre. The awards were established as the Society of West End Theatre Awards in 1976, and, renamed in 1984 in honour of English actor Lord Olivier.
The Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical is an annual award presented by The Society of London Theatre in recognition of achievements in commercial British theatre. The awards were established as the Society of West End Theatre Awards in 1976, and, renamed in 1984 in honour of English actor Lord Olivier.
Robert Hugh Carvel is an English actor. He has twice won a Laurence Olivier Award: for his performances as Miss Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical and Rupert Murdoch in Ink. For the latter role, he also won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
The 2012 Laurence Olivier Awards were held on 15 April 2012 at the Royal Opera House, London.
The 67th Annual Tony Awards were held June 9, 2013, to recognize achievement in Broadway productions during the 2012–13 season. The ceremony returned to Radio City Music Hall in New York City, after two years at Beacon Theatre, and was broadcast live on CBS television. Neil Patrick Harris hosted for the third consecutive year, his fourth time as host. Awards in four of the eight acting categories, were given to African-American performers. Furthermore, it is the second time in Tony history that both directing prizes went to women. Garry Hynes and Julie Taymor had previously won in 1998. Kinky Boots had a season best 13 nominations and 6 awards. Cyndi Lauper, composer of the score for Kinky Boots, is the first solo female winner for Best Original Score.
The 2013 Laurence Olivier Awards were held on Sunday 28 April 2013 at the Royal Opera House, London. The awards were sponsored by MasterCard for the third consecutive year and presented by Hugh Bonneville and Sheridan Smith, with music from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Live coverage of the awards was provided by BBC Radio 2, presented by Ken Bruce and for the first time in over a decade, the awards were televised, with a highlights programme on ITV1.
The 2016 Laurence Olivier Awards were held on Sunday 3 April 2016 at the Royal Opera House, London. The 40th anniversary ceremony was hosted by Michael Ball. A highlights show was broadcast on ITV shortly after the live event ended.
The 2018 Laurence Olivier Awards was held on 8 April 2018 at the Royal Albert Hall, London. The ceremony was hosted by comedian and actress Catherine Tate.