Olivier Awards – Everything You Need To Know

27th March 2023

Olivier Awards – Everything You Need To Know
Georgia Carter

Georgia Carter

Olivier Awards

The Olivier Awards, named after the legendary British actor Laurence Olivier, are the most prestigious awards for theatre in the United Kingdom. The awards are presented annually by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and recognize the best of British theatre in a variety of categories, including best new play, best new musical, best director, best actor and actress, best choreography, and best design. The awards were first presented in 1976 established by the Society of London Theatre as the Society of West End Theatre Awards, and designed by artist Tom Merrifield. The first ceremony in December 1976 at the Café Royal and has since become a significant event in the British theatre calendar. 

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) is an umbrella organization for West End theatre in London. Founded in 1908, as the Society of West End Theatre Managers, the Society of West End Theatre in 1975, changing to its current name in 1994, the (SOLT) is a not-for-profit organization that provides a collective voice for the theatre owners, producers, and managers of all the major commercial and grant-aided theatres across London

Each year, the awards are presented in a lavish ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London and are attended by some of the biggest names in British theatre.

The awards are judged by an independent panel of industry experts, including critics, producers, directors, and actors. Nominations are based on performances in the previous year. 

The awards are highly sought-after and are seen as a major accolade for those in the industry. Winning an Olivier Award can be a major boost for a performer’s career, and can open up new opportunities for them. It is also seen as a mark of excellence for the production and can help to attract new audiences and further investment.

Where & When?

The Olivier awards are the annual British theatre awards that take place in April.  This year they will be on 2 April 2023. Typically, the Olivier Awards are held in April and mark the end of a year of theatre. This year, the Olivier Awards will be held on the first Sunday in April. And the event will take place at The Royal Albert Hall. The awards have been held there since 2017.

Previous venues include; Dominion Theatre, London Palladium, Lyceum Theatre, National Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Shaftesbury Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Victoria Palace Theatre. 

London’s West End

London’s West End theatre scene is home to some of the biggest and best-known musicals and plays, as well as some of the most iconic and historic theatres. The West End is home to many of the oldest and most famous theatres in the world, such as the Royal Albert Hall, the Savoy Theatre, and the London Palladium. The West End is known for its world-class musicals and plays, with some of the biggest shows in the world running in the area. From The Lion King to Mamma Mia, the West End is the place to go to see top-notch live performances.

Who Was Laurence Olivier? 

Laurence Olivier was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most renowned and influential actors of the 20th century. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time and was the first actor to be made a British Lord. He won multiple awards during his career, including two Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and two Emmy Awards.

Together with Richardson and Gielgud, it was said that Olivier was internationally recognized as one of the “great trinity of theatrical knights” on the British stage of the mid-20th century. He also worked in films throughout his career, playing more than fifty cinema roles. Late in his career, he had considerable success in television roles.  

In 1930 he had his first important West End success in Noël Coward’s Private Lives, and went to be in productions such as Romeo & Juliet (1975), Richard III and Sophocles’s Oedipus. In the 1940s, together with Richardson and John Burrell, Olivier was the co-director of the Old Vic, building it into a highly respected company. 

Among Olivier’s films are Wuthering Heights (1939), Rebecca (1940), and a trilogy of Shakespeare films as actor/director: Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), and Richard III (1955). His later films included Spartacus (1960), The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), Sleuth (1972), Marathon Man (1976), and The Boys from Brazil (1978). His television appearances included an adaptation of The Moon and Sixpence (1960), Long Day’s Journey into Night (1973), Love Among the Ruins (1975), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1976), Brideshead Revisited (1981) and King Lear (1983). 

Award Categories

There are 27 categories in total in the 2022 Olivier Awards. 21 are for theatre productions, 2 for opera, 2 for dance, and 1 for productions in affiliate theatres. 

Olivier Awards for Productions

  • Best New Play
  • Best Revival
  • Best New Comedy
  • Best New Musical
  • Best Musical Revival

Olivier Awards for Performers

  • Best Actor
  • Best Actress
  • Best Performance in a Supporting Role
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Best Actor in a Musical
  • Best Actress in a Musical
  • Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Olivier Awards for Creatives

  • Outstanding Achievement in Music Production
  • Best Director
  • Gillian Lynne Award for Best Theatre Choreographer
  • Best Set Design
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Lighting Design
  • Best Sound Design

Olivier Awards for Dance

  • Best New Dance Production
  • Outstanding Achievement in Dance

Olivier Awards for Opera

  • Best New Opera Production
  • Outstanding Achievement in Opera

Additional Olivier Awards

  • Best Entertainment and Family
  • Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre
  • Special Award

In 2022, there was a special recognition award, which was given to 5 people who deserved special recognition for their work in and contribution to the Theatre Industry. These included; 

Lisa Burger – Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre for 20 years.

Bob King – Bob King has been the creative force behind hundreds of West End and Broadway marketing campaigns.

Gloria Louis – she is the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer for Delfont Mackintosh Theatres.

Susie Sainsbury – she is a long-time supporter of the Arts, and her philanthropy has been invaluable to theatre in London and beyond.

Sylvia Young – Sylvia Young is a British theatre school founder and actress. She is the founder and principal of the Sylvia Young Theatre School, which is one of the most prestigious performing arts schools in the UK. 

Who Has Been Nominated At The Olivier Awards?

You can view all the 2023 nominations by following the link here

Society of London Theatre Special Award 

The Society of London Theatre Special Award Laurence Olivier Award is an annual award presented by the Society of London Theatre to recognize excellence in London theatre. It is named in honor of the late British actor and director Laurence Olivier and is awarded to an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to London theatre over a sustained period of time. The award is usually presented at the annual Laurence Olivier Awards ceremony, which is held each April in London.

Previous winners include Sir Ian McKellen, Kenneth Branagh and Matthew Bourne. In 2022, there was no special award and only a special recognition 

Who Is Hosting the 2023 Awards Ceremony?

The Emmy-winning actress Hannah Waddingham will host the 2023 Olivier Awards, known for her role in Ted Lasso as Rebecca Welton.

Performers At Olivier Awards 2023

All of the Best New Musical nominees will perform: Standing At The Sky’s Edge, Sylvia, Tammy Faye, and The Band’s Visit. Newsies, nominated for Best Choreography, will take to the stage, as well as musical revivals Oklahoma! and Sister Act.

The Book of Mormon will perform to mark the show’s 10th anniversary. There’ll also be a tribute to Grease to honour choreographer Arlene Philips.

Closing Thoughts

That is all you need to know about the Olivier Awards! So make sure you are watching the awards on the 2nd of April, you do not want to miss the biggest night in theatre! The awards ceremony won’t be televised live but a highlight program will air on the same evening from 10:15 pm on ITV and ITVX. 

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