Laurence Olivier Award
|Laurence Olivier Award|
Laurence Olivier Award, designed by the sculptor Harry Franchetti. It depicts Lord Olivier as Henry V at the Old Vic in 1937.
|Awarded for||Best in London theatre|
|Presented by||The Society of London Theatre|
The Laurence Olivier Award (or simply the Olivier Award) is presented annually by the Society of London Theatre to recognise excellence in professional theatre. Named after the renowned British actor Laurence Olivier, they are given for West End shows and other productions staged in London. The Olivier Awards are recognised internationally as the highest honour in British theatre and are considered to be the theatre industry equivalent of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for television and film; in terms of theatre, they are the British equivalent of Broadway's Tony Awards.
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, however in 1984, the renowned British actor Lord Olivier gave consent for the awards to be renamed in his honour and they became known as the Laurence Olivier Awards. 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.
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, Anthony Hopkins, Sue Lawley, Diana Rigg, Edward Fox, Tim Rice, Gary Wilmot, Jane Asher, Tom Conti, Denis Quilley and Angela Rippon.
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 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.
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. 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:
- The most Olivier Awards ever received by a musical was Matilda the Musical in 2012 with seven awards including Best New Musical.
- The most Oliviers ever received by a play was Nicholas Nickleby in 1980 with six awards including Play of the Year.
- Guys and Dolls (1982), Sunday in the Park with George (2007) and She Loves Me (1995) all received five Olivier Awards each. Hairspray (2008), All My Sons (2001), Billy Elliot the Musical (2006), Hedda Gabler (2006), Oklahoma! (1999), Stanley (1997), Sweeney Todd (1994), Machinal (1994), An Inspector Calls (1993), Carousel (1993), Jerry Springer the Opera (2003), Spring Awakening (2010) all received four Olivier Awards each.
- Shows with the most nominations are: Matilda the Musical (2012) with ten, Hairspray (2008) with ten, Billy Elliot the Musical (2006) with nine, Kiss Me, Kate (2002) with nine, Oklahoma! (1999) with nine, The Producers (2005) with eight, Guys and Dolls (2006) with eight, Jerry Springer the Opera (2004) with eight and Carousel (1992) with eight.
- The musicals Spamalot (2006) and Love Never Dies (2011) are the most nominated shows with no wins, each with seven nominations.
- Three people hold the record for winning seven Olivier Awards for different creative strands: Judi Dench (actress), William Dudley (designer) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (composer/producer).
- Six wins: Ian McKellen, Alan Bennett, Richard Eyre, Stephen Sondheim.
- Five wins: Matthew Bourne, Declan Donnellan, Mark Henderson, Mark Thompson[disambiguation needed]
- Four wins: Michael Bryant, Darcey Bussell, Michael Frayn, Michael Gambon, Tim Goodchild, Clare Higgins, Alex Jennings, Sam Mendes, John Napier, Trevor Nunn, Philip Quast, Willy Russell, Simon Russell Beale, Frances de la Tour.
- Performers who have won Olivier Awards in both the play and musical categories are: Simon Russell Beale, Jonathan Pryce, Henry Goodman, Imelda Staunton, Judi Dench and Janie Dee.
- Judi Dench holds the distinction of being the only actress to win both dramatic and musical Olivier acting awards in the same year (1996) - for her performances in Absolute Hell and A Little Night Music.
- Philip Quast has won the Olivier for Best Actor in a Musical on three occasions, while Michael Crawford, Robert Lindsay, Daniel Evans and Michael Ball have all won the award twice.
- Julia McKenzie, Joanna Riding, Maria Friedman, Samantha Spiro and Imelda Staunton have all won the Olivier for Best Actress in a Musical twice. Maria Friedman holds the record for most Olivier nominations in the Best Actress in a Musical category, with six. Julia McKenzie comes in a close second with five nominations.
- Jenny Galloway and Tracie Bennett have both won the Olivier for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical twice.
- Shows that have won Olivier Awards for Best Actor and Best Actress in a Musical: Barbara Dickson and Con O’Neill in Blood Brothers (1988), Jonathan Pryce and Lea Salonga in Miss Saigon (1990), Alun Armstrong and Julia McKenzie in Sweeney Todd (1993), Daniel Evans and Samantha Spiro in Merrily We Roll Along (2001), Alex Jennings and Joanna Riding in My Fair Lady (2003), Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell in Sunday in the Park with George (2007), Michael Ball and Leanne Jones in Hairspray (2008), Bertie Carvel and all four Matildas in Matilda the Musical (2012) and Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton in Sweeney Todd (2013)
- Hairspray holds the distinction of winning all three musical acting awards in 2008: Best Actor and Actress in a Musical for Michael Ball and Leanne Jones and Best Supporting Performance in a Musical for Tracie Bennett.
- Roles that have won awards for actors on more than one occasion include: Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls (1982 and 2006), George in Sunday in the Park with George (1991 and 2007), The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods (1991 and 1999), Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls (1982 and 1997), Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd (1980, 1994 and 2013), Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (1980, 1994 and 2013), Frau Schneider in Cabaret (1994 and 2007) and Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (2002 and 2003).
- Michael Ball and Bertie Carvel both won Oliviers for playing roles of the opposite sex, in 2008 for Hairspray and 2012 for Matilda the Musical, respectively.
- Shared wins: In 2006, all three actors sharing the role of Billy Elliot received the Olivier for Best Actor in a Musical and in 2012, all four actresses sharing the role of Matilda received the Olivier for Best Actress in a Musical.
See also 
- West End theatre
- Evening Standard Award
- Tony Award
- Drama Desk Award
- List of Tony Award and Olivier Award winning musicals
- "Olivier Awards, History". Olivierawards.com, accessed 7 February 2011
- "Olivier Awards, Panellists". Olivierawards.com, accessed 7 February 2011
- "Olivier Awards Facts". Olivierawards.com, accessed 7 February 2011
- Jones, Kenneth. "Love Never Dies, Legally Blonde, Rylance, Jacobi, Boggess, Bennett, End of the Rainbow Are Olivier Nominees". Playbill.com, February 7, 2011
- Shenton, Mark. "Olivier Awards Presented April 28 at London's Royal Opera House". Playbill.com, 28 April 2013
- "Andrew Lloyd Webber Receives Seventh Olivier". Really Useful Group