As previously tipped, the 2012 Laurence Olivier Awards, the UK’s equivalent of the Tony Awards, will be held at the Royal Opera House for the first time in their 36-year history.

The star-studded ceremony will take place on the later than usual date of Sunday 15 April 2012, a month later than this year’s awards, and taking a leaf out of its American counterpart’s book, the period of eligibility will not end with the preceding calendar year. Instead, the cut-off date will be extended until 16 February 2012, with nominations announced on Thursday 15 March 2012.

Mark Rubinstein, the recently appointed president of the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), the industry body that organises the Oliviers, said in a press statement: "Following the huge success of last year’s event under the inspired direction of our chief executive Julian Bird, we are delighted to be hosting the 36th Olivier Awards with MasterCard at the beautiful Royal Opera House. We look forward to welcoming the finest theatrical talent to the industry’s premier awards."

Speaking to Whatsonstage.com, Julian Bird explained that the April date was a more sensible choice in 2012, fitting in with various other events in the lead-up to the Olympics. In future years, the Oliviers will be held sometime between mid-March and mid-April, depending on when Easter falls and other potential clashes.

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 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.

Bird told Whatsonstage.com that the Oliviers will once again be back on screen in 2012, with discussions underway with the BBC and other broadcasters. Many other major upgrades are also in the works, for which announcements are expected in the new year.