The Society of London Theatre has confirmed it will introduce a new voting system for the Oliver Awards in time for this year’s ceremony.
The changes will mean that producers and theatre operators in the commercial West End and major subsidised theatres will be given the chance to vote on who wins in each category.
All members, apart from those who are affiliate and honorary, will be able to cast a vote.
Currently, SOLT members only have input at the nominations stage. This will bring the Oliviers more closely in line with similar industry awards such as the BAFTAs, Tonys and Oscars.
Members will now be encouraged to only vote in categories where they have seen all of the nominees.
Mark Rubinstein, president of SOLT, said: “The choice of nominations – the process by which the nominees were chosen – is exactly the same this year as it was last year and has been for several years.
“What will be different now is that the panel, which has seen all of the shows, and the members – and we are encouraging members to only vote in categories where they have seen all of the nominees – will both have a vote.”
He added: “The thing about the members is they are part of the theatre community and they see a lot of shows so it’s right they should have a voice on who is the winner.”
The nominations were announced today at a press event that was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2.
Responding to a question about how the outcome of the winners will be affected by this change, SOLT chief executive Julian Bird said: “I don’t think we know because we haven’t done it yet, but I don’t think there will be a huge difference from what you would expect. Everyone will have their own opinion on the shortlist but I guess in some categories you could hazard a guess as to who will win.”
At the suggestion made by a reporter from a national newspaper that groups might now start lobbying for their favourite production by securing adverts in The Stage, Bird said: “The voting will happen very quickly now, in a matter of days, so there is a limitation to that because of the amount of time there is… It won’t be like when [American entertainment magazine] Variety becomes an Oscars special and adverts are taken out.”