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Sondheim Honoured at Oliviers by Ball & Staunton

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Stephen Sondheim will be honoured for his contribution to London theatre at this year's Laurence Olivier Awards, which are announced on Sunday 13 March 2011. The American composer and lyricist, who last year marked his 80th birthday, will collect the honour in person during the ceremony at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and will also be the subject of a musical tribute, performed by stars including Adrian Lester who reprised his role in Sondheim’s Company for the Donmar in concert last year.

The evening will be hosted by previous Olivier winners Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, who will star together in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at Chichester Festival Theatre this summer.

There will also be also be special performances by pop veteran Barry Manilow, flying into the UK specially for the Oliviers, and Whatsonstage.com Award winner star Kerry Ellis, most recently seen in Oliver!, new choreography commissioned by dance companies Thick Skin and Zoo Nation, and highlights from this year’s nominated musicals - Sweet Charity, Into the Woods, Love Story, Fela!, Passion, Legally Blonde and Love Never Dies - accompanied by the 72-strong BBC Concert Orchestra, under the musical direction of David Charles Abell, with original music and orchestrations provided by Larry Blank.

The line-up of guest presenters will include: Benedict Cumberbatch, Anne-Marie Duff, Elisabeth Moss, Rupert Everett, Mark Gatiss, Amanda Holden, Jonny Lee Miller, Elaine Page, Danielle Hope, Rachel Tucker, Tamara Rojo, Patrick Stewart, Matthew Fox, Olivia Williams and Alfie Boe. The evening will also be attended by members of the Olivier family as well as myriad other stars.

The Oliviers will be back on television this year for the first time since 2003, thanks to a tie-up with the BBC which will see live coverage throughout the night on the interactive Red button as well as on Radio 2.

The Oliviers, Theatreland's most prestigious awards, mark the culmination of awards season which also includes the Critics' Circle, Evening Standard and, of course, our own Whatsonstage.com Awards, which were announced last month (20 February 2011).

Last year's ceremony, which was held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, saw a series of upsets on the night including Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem and Lucy Prebble's Enron pipped at the post for Best New Play, with the accolade being presented to 28-year-old American Katori Hall for Theatre503's The Mountaintop, a play has subsequently been staged in New York by a different cast.

Nominees this year include Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance in the Best Actor category, Love Never Dies and Legally Blonde for Best New Musical, Whatsonstage.com Award-winner Sheridan Smith in the Best Actress in a Musical category and Michael Xavier, who is nominated in two categories (Best Actor in a Musical and Best Actor in a supporting role in a musical) for his performances in Love Story and Into the Woods.


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