The Oliviers, which will this year be held on the later than usual date of Sunday 15 April 2012, will be hosted for the second year by Sweeney Todd co-stars Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton with organisers the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) again promising "extensive" coverage on BBC television, radio and online.
For the first time, the Oliviers celebrations will also include a live show relay to a Broadway event with an invited audience of VIPs including British stars on Broadway and industry figures.
There will also be an awards celebration staged in Covent Garden piazza, with a free big-screen relay of the Awards as well as other live performances from West End shows. The event will be hosted by DJ Neil Fox and Wicked star Louise Dearman.
For the second year the Olivier Awards will be broadcast live on the BBC's Red Button service in addition to traditional coverage on BBC Radio 2. As with last year's broadcast, coverage will commence on the red carpet at 5pm ahead of the ceremony's 6pm start.
Julian Bird, chief executive of SOLT and executive producer of the Awards, said in a statement: "This year’s 36th Olivier Awards with MasterCard will reflect a particularly star-studded year for London theatre, and the plethora of high calibre sell-out productions for which audiences have been queuing around the block. I am delighted we have been able to extend our celebrations to New York."
The Royal Opera House, which has a capacity of 1900+, also famously hosts the BAFTAs. Unlike the BAFTAs, however, for which post-show entertainment is held elsewhere, for the Oliviers, both the ceremony and the industry after-party will be held on-site in 2012.
The full list of nominations will this year be announced at noon on Thursday 15 March 2012, reflecting the later cut-off date for eligible productions of 16 February 2012. For the first time that event will also be broadcast live online, a move SOLT say "reflects the significant profile of the awards around the world." The Awards ceremony itself was broadcast online for the first time in 2007.
The move to the Royal Opera House is the latest step in an ongoing, high-profile revamp of the Oliviers since Bird was appointed SOLT chief executive last year. Improvements in 2011 included the signing of MasterCard as a title sponsor, the move back to a theatre (the Theatre Royal Drury Lane) after years of black-tie dinners at hotels, and the resumption of TV coverage care of the BBC.
Prior to the Olivier Awards, Whatsonstage.com will be holding our own Awards on 19 February 2012 at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Voting, which is well on its way to smashing our previous record of 46,000 theatregoer votes, has been open since the nominations were announced on 2 December 2011, and closes on 31 January.