Laurence Olivier Award
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 Olivier Awards|
|2017 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|
|Presented by||The Society of London Theatre|
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 its inception, the awards have been held at various venues and theatres across London, from 2012-2016 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 first established in 1976 by the Society of London Theatre as the Society of West End Awards and were designed by artist Tom Merrifield. 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. The first awards ceremony was held in December 1976 at Café Royal.
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 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, Angela Rippon and Jason Manford.
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.
From 2012 to 2016 the awards ceremony was held at the Royal Opera House, moving to the Royal Albert Hall in 2017  . The 2013 ceremony was the first ceremony to be broadcast on television since 2003.
The first Laurence Olivier Awards to be broadcast on television was the 1981 ceremony, which was broadcast on BBC1, and continued every year until 1992, before switching to BBC2 each year 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.
Some notable records and facts about the Laurence Olivier Awards include the following:
- The most Olivier Awards ever received by a musical was Matilda in 2012 with seven awards including Best New Musical.
- The most Olivier Awards ever received by a play was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in 2017 with nine awards including Best New Play.
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2013) received seven Olivier Awards. Nicholas Nickleby (1980) received six. Chimerica (2014), Sunday in the Park with George (2007), She Loves Me (1995) and Guys and Dolls (1982) received five. Gypsy (2016), The Book of Mormon (2014), After the Dance (2011), Spring Awakening (2010), Black Watch (2009), Hairspray (2008), Jerry Springer (2004), All My Sons (2001), Billy Elliot (2006), Hedda Gabler (2006), Oklahoma (1999), Stanley (1997), Machinal (1994), Sweeney Todd (1994), An Inspector Calls (1993) and Carousel (1993) received four.
- The most nominations ever received by a production is eleven with Hairspray (2008) and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2017). Memphis (2015), Matilda (2012), Billy Elliot (2006), Mary Poppins (2005), Kiss Me, Kate (2002), Oklahoma (1999) and Carousel (1993) received nine. Groundhog Day (2017), Gypsy (2016), Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (2015), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2013), The Producers (2005), Guys and Dolls (2006), Jerry Springer (2004), Pacific Overtures (2004), Ragtime (2004), My Fair Lady (2002), Spend, Spend, Spend (2000), The Lion King (2000), Tommy (1997) and She Loves Me (1995) received eight.
- Kiss Me, Kate (2002) holds the record for most nominations without any wins at nine.
- William Dudley (designer), Judi Dench (actress) and Matthew Bourne (choreographer) are tied for the record for the most competitive wins by an individual with seven each. Dench also won a Special Olivier Award in 2004. Andrew Lloyd Webber (composer/producer) has won six plus the Special Olivier Award in 2008.
- Ian McKellen, Alan Bennett, Richard Eyre and Stephen Sondheim have all won five competitive awards plus the Special Olivier Award.
- Five wins: Declan Donnellan, Mark Henderson, Mark Thompson.
- 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, Imelda Staunton, Frances de la Tour, Paule Constable.
- 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, Sheridan Smith and Janie Dee.
- Maggie Smith has never won the award despite being nominated a total of six times. She did receive the Special Olivier Award in 2010.
- 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.
- Imelda Staunton has won the Olivier for Best Actress in a Musical three times. Julia McKenzie, Joanna Riding, Maria Friedman and Samantha Spiro have all won twice. Maria Friedman and Imelda Staunton are tied for the record for most Olivier nominations in the Best Actress in a Musical category, with six each. Julia McKenzie and Ruthie Henshall are next, all 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 (2012) and Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton in Sweeney Todd (2013)
- Jessica Lange is the first American actress nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actress for her performance in Long Day's Journey Into Night
- 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, 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.
- "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
- A Orlova, Tamara; Alvarez, Joe (April 10, 2017). "The Olivier Awards 2017". Ikon London Magazine. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
- Olivier Awards: Facts. OfficialLondonTheatre, accessed March 13, 2011
- "Andrew Lloyd Webber Receives Seventh Olivier". Really Useful Group