Oliver Awards become more like Tonys with expanded voting

Until this year, the winners of the Olivier Awards were decided by panels consisting of only a handful of theater professionals and a few members of the public.

For this year’s April 28 ceremony, will be determined by canvassing these panels as well as the Society of London Theatres (SOLT), the group which organizes these kudos. 

In one way, this brings the Oliviers more in line with the Tony Awards. SOLT is akin to the Broadway League, the association of producers, which partners with the non-profit American Theater Wing to present the Tony Awards. 

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However, unlike the Tonys which delegate the determination of nominees to a group of 42 theater folk, the Oliviers allow the producers to have input at that stage of the process, adding their thoughs to those of the theater pros and public. 

Two years ago, the Oliviers upped their profile, with a TV deal, a sizeable sponsorship by MasterCard and a move to the Royal Opera House.

Till then, these prizes had been handed out in a low-key ceremony at one hotel or another. This precluded staging the kind of elaborate musical numbers that make the Tony Awards so watchable. The Tonys serve as a two-hour long advertisement touting Broadway fare to a national audience. The money to be made in the theater stateside, such as it is, often comes from touring productions rather than rialto runs.

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