Hon­our­ing the best stars to tread the boards

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Luvvies from all cor­ners of the uni­verse gather at the Royal Opera House in Covent Gar­den for the big­gest night of the the­atri­cal year. It’s 30 years since Lord Lau­rence Olivier lent his name to the So­ci­ety of Lon­don Theatre’s an­nual cer­e­mony, and the shindig has gone from strength to strength dur­ing that pe­riod – per­haps be­cause the Lon­don stage is THE place to be for thes­pi­ans who want to prove their act­ing chops. For the past cou­ple of decades, a steady stream of those familiar from the big and small screens have headed to the West End to show­case their tal­ents, and it seems un­likely that trend will end any time soon. Host­ing The Olivier Awards 2015 (Sun­day, ITV, 10.15pm) is co­me­dian Lenny Henry.To those who don’t keep up with the Bri­tish theatre scene’s news, he may seem an odd choice, but in re­cent years he’s tack­led Shake­speare with ac­claimed per­for­mances in Othello and The Com­edy of Er­rors, and ap­peared in more mod­ern stage projects too, in­clud­ing Rudy’s Rare Records, which was based on his own ra­dio show. Caro Newling, Pres­i­dent of the So­ci­ety of Lon­don Theatre, says of this year’s nom­i­nees:“2015 has been an­other in­cred­i­ble year for Lon­don theatre. I would like to congratulate the ex­cep­tion­ally tal­ented nom­i­nees we are cel­e­brat­ing to­day.” Lead­ing the way in the nom­i­na­tions are Mem­phis The Mu­si­cal and Beau­ti­ful – The Ca­role King Mu­si­cal, with nine nods each. Mu­si­cians Nor­man Cook and David Byrne, as well as Ray Davies, re­ceive their first Olivier nom­i­na­tions for their work on Here Lies Love and Sunny Af­ter­noon. Other fa­mous faces in the run­ning for var­i­ous awards are Mark Strong, Richard Ar­mitage, James McAvoy, Gil­lian An­der­son, Kristin Scott Thomas and Imelda Staunton, while Kevin Spacey will re­ceive a spe­cial tro­phy to mark his ten­ure as the Old Vic’s artis­tic direc­tor. Spacey makes way for Matthew Warchus later in the year af­ter over­see­ing a hugely suc­cess­ful spell for the theatre which has in­cluded ac­claimed pro­duc­tions of The Philadel­phia Story, Richard II, Speed-the-Plow and A Moon for the Mis­be­got­ten; Warchus cer­tainly has a lot to live up to. “The So­ci­ety of Lon­don Theatre is de­lighted to for­mally ac­knowl­edge Kevin Spacey’s out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to The Old Vic,” adds Newling.“In gen­eral his ad­vo­cacy of Lon­don theatre has been a con­stant boon, and many of us will miss him as a val­ued col­league.”

Pay­ing trib­ute Lenny Henry presents the event

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