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Laurence Olivier Award


Laurence Olivier Award

Laurence Olivier Award
2015 Laurence Olivier Awards
Laurence Olivier Award, designed by the sculptor Harry Franchetti. It depicts Olivier as Henry V at the Old Vic in 1937.
Awarded for Best in London theatre
Country  United Kingdom
Presented by The Society of London Theatre
First awarded 1976
Official website Olivier

The Laurence Olivier Awards (or simply the Olivier Award) are presented annually by the Society of London Theatre to recognise excellence in professional theatre. Originally known as the Society of West End Theatre Awards, they were renamed in honour of the British actor Laurence Olivier in 1984.

The awards are given to those involved in West End shows and other leading non-commercial theatres based in London. The Olivier Awards are recognised internationally as the highest honour in British theatre, equivalent to Broadway's Tony Awards and France's Molière Award.


  • History 1
  • Judging 2
  • Ceremony 3
    • Presenters 3.1
    • Venues 3.2
  • Broadcast 4
  • Award categories 5
    • Drama 5.1
    • Musical 5.2
    • Production 5.3
    • Dance/Opera 5.4
    • Other 5.5
    • Retired 5.6
  • Award milestones 6
    • Productions 6.1
    • Individuals 6.2
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Commonly referred to simply as the Olivier Awards, awards are presented annually across a range of categories covering plays, musicals, dance, opera and affiliate theatre. The majority of the awards are presented for the high profile commercial productions seen in the large theatres of London's West End, which is commonly known as Theatreland.

The awards were first established in 1976 as The Society of West End Theatre Awards. In 1984, the British actor Lord Olivier gave consent for the awards to be renamed in his honour and they became known as the Laurence Olivier Awards. From 1976 to 1983, the awards were known as the S.W.E.T Awards and were designed by the artist Tom Merrifield.[1] The awards are managed and financed by The Society of London Theatre.


The Awards are judged by four separate panels for theatre, opera, dance, and Affiliate.[2]

The majority of the Olivier Awards are presented in the theatre categories, which cover plays and musicals. The theatre categories are judged by the theatre panel, which has five anonymous specialist members who are chosen for their specialist knowledge and professional experience in addition to eight members of the theatre going public, four of whom judge plays, and four musicals.

The Opera, Dance and Affiliate panels each consist of three anonymous professional members, each judging their specialist area of expertise. Each panel also includes two members of the theatre going public. The Affiliate Panel judges productions in theatres represented by Affiliate members of the Society of London Theatre. The Affiliate category consists of smaller theatres that do not hold full SOLT membership and are often off-West End, for example the Lyric, Hammersmith, the Hampstead Theatre and repertory theatres such as the Old Vic, Young Vic and Royal Court Theatres. Two separate auditoria within the same theatre building may hold different memberships, such as in the case of the Royal Court Theatre.

Any new production that opens between February 16 and February 15 the following year, in a theatre represented in membership of the Society of London Theatre is eligible for entry for the Olivier Awards if it has run for a minimum of 30 performances. After a nomination has been received, it then has to be seconded by members of the Society and if it is successful, it is then seen by the relevant judging panel.

For awards in the Theatre categories, nominations are decided by a postal ballot of all members of the Theatre Panel and all members of the Society of London Theatre. For Affiliate, Opera and Dance categories, the nominations are decided only by members of the relevant panel, by way of a secret ballot.



Previous presenters of the Olivier Awards Ceremony include Michael Ball, Imelda Staunton, Anthony Head, James Nesbitt, Richard E. Grant, Richard Wilson, Sue Johnston, Clive Anderson, Angela Lansbury, Barry Norman, Peter Barkworth, Daniel Radcliffe, Anthony Hopkins, Sue Lawley, Diana Rigg, Edward Fox, Tim Rice, Gary Wilmot, Jane Asher, Tom Conti, Denis Quilley and Angela Rippon.[3]

Notable people who have presented an individual Award include Diana, Princess of Wales, Eddie Izzard, Kevin Spacey and Sir Tom Stoppard and, in 2007, Laurence Olivier's son, Richard.[3]


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: Victoria Palace, Lyceum, National Theatre Olivier, Albery (now Noël Coward), Shaftesbury, London Palladium, Dominion, Royalty, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Café Royal, Piccadilly, and The Park Lane Hilton.

The 2011 Ceremony was held on 13 March 2011 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.[4]

The 2012 Ceremony was held at the Royal Opera House on 15 April 2012. The 2013 Awards Ceremony was held at the Royal Opera House on 28 April 2013. The 2013 Olivier ceremony was broadcast in a highlights version by ITV. The ceremony was hosted by Sheridan Smith and Hugh Bonneville with voice-overs by Julia McKenzie.[5]


For the first time, the BBC broadcast live coverage of the 2011 ceremony, including the "Red carpet" arrivals, awards results, and overreactions. Paul Gambaccini presented a program on BBC Radio 2 with live coverage and interviews.[4] Due to the success of this, BBC once again broadcast the whole ceremony again in 2012 as well as the performances by the cast of Billy Elliot, Wicked, Les Misérables and Jersey Boys in the Covent Garden piazza.

Award categories

Award milestones

Some notable records and facts about the Laurence Olivier Awards include the following:[3]



See also


  1. ^ "Olivier Awards, History"., accessed 7 February 2011
  2. ^ "Olivier Awards, Panellists"., accessed 7 February 2011
  3. ^ a b c "Olivier Awards Facts"., accessed 7 February 2011
  4. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth. "Love Never Dies, Legally Blonde, Rylance, Jacobi, Boggess, Bennett, End of the Rainbow Are Olivier Nominees"., February 7, 2011
  5. ^ Shenton, Mark. "Olivier Awards Presented April 28 at London's Royal Opera House"., 28 April 2013
  6. ^ "Andrew Lloyd Webber Receives Seventh Olivier". Really Useful Group

External links

  • Official website
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