West End Throws the Gauntlet! The Olivier Awards!

The Society of London Theatre presents the Olivier Awards. It is an annual ceremony in the capital that recognizes excellence in professional theatre in London. The awards are given to people involved in leading non-commercial theatres based in and around London in a range of categories. They include theatre, film, television, music, dance, theatre, film, and television. Originally known as Society’s West End Theatre Awards, the awards have since been renamed Olivier Awards for Excellence in Professional Theatre and Film and Television in England and Wales (OLIVIER). 


The Olivier Awards are internationally recognized and are considered one of the most prestigious awards in the world of professional theatre, film, and television. Every year, the Society of London Theatre and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) also present the Olivier Award for Excellence in Film and Television in England and Wales. 


The Society of London Theatre launched the prize in 1976 as the Society’s West End Awards, designed by the artist Tom Merrifield. The first award ceremony took place in December 1976 at the Cafe Royal and the first at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in January 1977. 


The longlist for the theatre awards is drawn up by a jury of members of the audience and submitted to the SOLT members for voting. The jury is made up of casting directors and other industry experts selected on the basis of their expertise, as well as members and audiences associated with the London theatre, with opera and dance as a partner organization.     

Members can vote in any of the four supporting actor and acting categories, including thousands of selected actors. The votes of the members are combined with those of the panelists to create a list of nominees. Members and panelists will then vote on the winner, and members can also vote for their favorite actor or actress in the Supporting Actress category. 


The venue most associated with the awards is the Grosvenor House Hotel, which has hosted the show, reception, and entire event nine times and four more times. Previous hosts of the Olivier Awards have included the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Metropolitan Opera, London’s Royal Albert Hall, and New York’s Broadway Theatre. The ceremony was also broadcast on Magic Radio and, in recent years, also live on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service.

2020 nominations 

Best new play                      

A Very Expensive Poison at The Old Vic

The Doctor at Almeida Theatre

Leopoldstadt at Wyndham’s Theatre

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane at National Theatre – Dorfman

Best new musical    

& Juliet at Shaftesbury Theatre

Amélie The Musical at The Other Palace

Dear Evan Hansen at Noël Coward Theatre

Waitress at Adelphi Theatre                   

Best actor                                        

Toby Jones for Uncle Vanya at Harold Pinter Theatre

James McAvoy for Cyrano De Bergerac at Playhouse Theatre

Wendell Pierce for Death Of A Salesman at Young Vic and Piccadilly Theatre

Andrew Scott for Present Laughter at The Old Vic                               

Best actress

Hayley Atwell for Rosmersholm at Duke of York’s Theatre

Sharon D. Clarke for Death Of A Salesman at Piccadilly Theatre

Juliet Stevenson for The Doctor at Almeida Theatre

Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag at Wyndham’s Theatre

Best actor in a musical                   

Andy Nyman for Fiddler On The Roof at Playhouse Theatre

Charlie Stemp for Mary Poppins at Prince Edward Theatre

Sam Tutty for Dear Evan Hansen at Noël Coward Theatre                            

Jac Yarrow for Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at The London Palladium       

Do you want to read more on the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards?