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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
Country  United Kingdom
First awarded 1976

The Laurence Olivier Awards are presented annually by the Society of London Theatre and are awarded to recognise excellence in professional theatre. Named after the renowned British actor Laurence Olivier and commonly known simply as the Olivier Awards, 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 BAFTA Awards for television and film.



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 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 and the awards ceremony is produced by West End producer Adam Spiegel.

In Broadway theatre, the equivalent of the Olivier Award is the Tony Award and a number of the world's longest-running and most successful shows have received award nominations for both West End theatre and Broadway productions, with a number of leading actors, directors, choreographers and designers receiving award nominations on both sides of the Atlantic.


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 musical. The theatre categories are judged by the theatre panel, which consists of five specialist members who are chosen for their specialist knowledge and professional experience. The panel also consists of 8 members of the theatre going public, four who judge plays and four who judge musicals.

The Opera, Dance and Affiliate panels each consist of three 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. Affiliate theatres are typically recognised as being theatres outside of the London "Theatreland" district and includes repertory theatres such as the Old Vic, Young Vic and Royal Court Theatres.

Any new production that opens between January 1 and December 31 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 al 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.




In 2005 and 2006 the Award Ceremony was hosted by the esteemed Richard Wilson, while in 2007 he co-presented with Sue Johnston. The previous seven ceremonies were hosted by Clive Anderson while previous hosts have included 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. In 2008, it was hosted by Richard E. Grant, who was succeeded in 2009 by James Nesbitt. Famous names who have presented an individual Award range from Diana, Princess of Wales to Eddie Izzard, and from Kevin Spacey to Sir Tom Stoppard and in 2007, Laurence Olivier's son, Richard.


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 Noel Coward), Shaftesbury, London Palladium , Dominion, Royalty, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Café Royal, Piccadilly, and The Park Lane Hilton.

Award categories







Award record winners



  • Judi Dench (actress)[1]
  • William Dudley (designer)
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber (composer)[2]

Officially Lloyd Webber has only won four Olivier Awards, however alongside his own awards for composing, three shows which he has produced have also won awards.


  • Ian McKellen (actor)
  • Alan Bennett (actor/writer)
  • Richard Eyre (director)
  • Stephen Sondheim (composer)


  • Matthew Bourne (choreographer/director)
  • Declan Donnellan (director)
  • Mark Henderson (lighting designer)
  • Mark Thompson (designer)


  • Michael Bryant (actor)
  • Michael Gambon (actor)
  • Michael Frayn (writer)
  • Tim Goodchild (designer)
  • Clare Higgins (actor)
  • Alex Jennings (actor)
  • Sam Mendes (director)
  • John Napier (designer)
  • Trevor Nunn (director)
  • Philip Quast (actor)
  • Willy Russell (writer)
  • Simon Russell Beale (actor)
  • Frances de la Tour (actor)



  • Nicholas Nickleby (1980)


  • Guys and Dolls (1982)
  • Sunday In The Park With George (2007)


  • Hairspray (2007)
  • All My Sons (2001)
  • Billy Elliot - The Musical (2006)
  • Hedda Gabler (2006)
  • Oklahoma! (1999)
  • Stanley (1997)
  • She Loves Me (1995)
  • Sweeney Todd (1994)
  • Machinal (1994)
  • An Inspector Calls (1993)
  • Carousel (1993)

Furthermore, Hairspray was nominated for a record breaking 11 nominations.[3][4]

See also


External links


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