The Society of London Theatre has announced that the annual Olivier Awards, now in its 36th year, will take place for the first time in its entirety at the Royal Opera House, London on Sunday 15 April 2012.

Sponsored for a second year by MasterCard, this year the awards will also get a live show relay to New York, where an invited audience of VIPs including British stars on Broadway and high profile industry figures will gather to celebrate the awards.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Iʹm incredibly proud of the continuing success of so many British productions on Broadway, a tribute to the talent and quality to be found here. London goes centre‐stage in this Olympic and Paralympic year, whilst the Olivier Awards put our superb theatre right in the spotlight. The special event being staged at this yearʹs awards is a taste of the amazing things we have planned for a summer like no other and we look forward to welcoming millions of Americans to the capital, who can take advantage of our award‐winning shows on sale throughout the Games and beyond.”

Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, said: “New York City and London share a long tradition of theatrical productions that have transferred from Broadway to the West End and vice versa, so itʹs a pleasure to welcome the Olivier Awards to our side of the pond in this very special way. It doesnʹt matter if you spell it theater or theatre; musicals and plays are a top attraction for tourists, and we look forward to hosting more than a million visitors from the United Kingdom in the coming year.”Another addition for 2012 will be an awards celebration in Covent Garden piazza, where theatre‐lovers can gather to enjoy a free big‐screen live show relay and other entertainment including live performances from some of the West End’s major shows. The event will be presented in conjunction with Magic 105.4, and hosted by breakfast presenter Neil Fox, alongside West End leading lady Louise Dearman.

The Awards will be hosted once again by Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, stars of Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi Theatre. The BBC will be giving the awards extensive live coverage on television (via the Red Button), on Radio 2 and online, with red carpet coverage from 5pm and the Ceremony starting at 6pm.

Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre and Executive Producer of the Awards, said: “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, and this connection is particularly apt in a year in which we are working closer than ever with VisitBritain and London & Partners to deliver a warm welcome to theatre audiences during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.“

SOLT will announce the full list of awards nominations at a press briefing at the Mayfair Hotel at 12 noon on Thursday 15 March 2012. For the first time, the nominations will also be broadcast live online simultaneously at www.olivierawards.com, reflecting the significant profile of the awards around the world.

Once again, in 2012, BBC Radio 2 partners with the Olivier Awards on the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award, to launch on the Elaine Paige show on Sunday 5 February.Established in 1976, the Laurence Olivier Awards celebrate the world‐class status of London’s theatre and are Britain’s most prestigious stage honours. The Awards were relaunched in 2011 with a new strategic partnership with MasterCard, the Olivier Audience Award supported by BBC Radio 2 and a live broadcast of the Awards Ceremony via the BBC Red Button.

The UK’s most prestigious theatre awards started in 1976 as The Society of West End Theatre Awards, becoming the Laurence Olivier Awards in 1984.