The Olivier Awards with MasterCard are held annually and recognise the very best in London theatre. Organised by the Society of London Theatre, the awards are presented to individuals involved in West End and other London-based productions. This year’s event took place on Sunday 3 April at the Royal Opera House. With its reputation as the leading lighting supplier to West End theatre, White Light provided the lighting equipment for the sixth year running.
2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the Olivier Awards and this year’s ceremony was attended by some of the most high-profile names in the industry. WL was asked to provide the production support across four areas: the Piazza ITV Stage, the red-carpet entrance, the main awards presentation and the after-show party.
The main awards presentation took place on the historic Royal Opera House stage. The Lighting Designer was Ben Cracknell, and the Production Electrician was Cy Dodimead. He said: “My role was to take Ben’s design and work out how to power, cable and address the fixtures in his plan. That meant working closely with both Ben, the Programmer Alex Passmore and WL to decide what kit was required to not only achieve the exact design but also work practically within the Royal Opera House.”
For the main awards show, Dodimead utilised the Clay Paky Sharpy Beams, Martin MAC Viper Profiles, Martin MAC Auras, Showtec Sunstrips and Vari-Lite VLXs, all of which were controlled by a Grand MA2 Lighting Desk.
As with all award ceremonies, the set-up had to be intricately planned. Dodimead added: “Prior to the ceremony, I spent four days with my crew preparing all of the kit. Once we ensured that the rig was up and working and Ben had programmed the show, we returned to the Royal Opera House late Saturday night to fit everything up and prepare for the evening ahead”.
WL also supplied the lighting equipment for the ITV Stage in Covent Piazza which was situated outside the Royal Opera House. The stage played host to a series of performances as well as the presentation of the Magic Radio Audience Award simultaneously alongside the main awards ceremony. The Lighting Designer was Chris Vaughan, who said: “I worked on lighting last year’s Piazza ITV Stage and this year we wanted to bring the aesthetic closer to the main house. In order to do this, we outlined the stage with several Laurence Olivier Award statues, which allowed us to create a ‘film strip’ look”.
Similar to Dodimead, Vaughan approached WL with his exact requirements and drew on the company’s unparalleled equipment inventory. He added: “We used 32 x Martin MAC Aura XBs, 48 x Showtec Sunstrips, 6 x Clay Paky Mythos, 18 x LED Pars, 8 x ETC Source Fours and 4 x Look Solution Unique Hazers to name but a few! Not only were we lighting the Piazza ITV Stage but also the surrounding buildings, in particular the St Paul’s Church canopy which overlooked the ITV Stage. Overall, this provided a much more theatrical look for the audience and really added to the entire grandeur of the occasion.”
The big winners on the evening included Dame Judi Dench who won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Winter’s Tale, Kenneth Cranham who won Best Actor for The Father, Denise Gough who won Best Actress for People, Places and Things, Imelda Staunton who won Best Actress in a Musical for Gypsy – with the lighting for all of these shows’ West End runs being provided by WL. WL also sponsors the award for Best Lighting Design which was won by Mark Henderson for his work on Gypsy.
WL has been supplying the lighting equipment to the Olivier Awards since 2011. The company was also recently involved with the installation and production support of Curtain Up, a brand-new, interactive display at the Victoria and Albert Museum which celebrates the relationship between West End and Broadway theatre and was commissioned as part of the Olivier Awards’ 40th anniversary celebrations.
Steve Bartlett, WL’s Corporate Hire Manager, said: “This is our sixth Olivier Awards and it is always a fantastic event to work on. With WL’s heritage being in theatre, along with our strong presence in the West End and UK theatre scene, it’s fitting that we are able to provide the equipment to one of the biggest events in the theatrical calendar.”