Composer Sondheim to receive London theatre award

Fri Mar 4, 2011 6:18am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - U.S. composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim will receive the Olivier Special Award when Britain's top theater honors are awarded on March 13.

The 80-year-old composer of hit shows including "A Little Night Music" and "Sweeney Todd" will attend the ceremony at Theater Royal Drury Lane in London's West End.

The ceremony will conclude with a tribute to Sondheim by performers including Adrian Lester, who starred in Sondheim's "Company," and other guests.

The Special Award is chosen by the board of the Society of London Theater (SOLT) and there have been 24 recipients in total including Alec Guinness, Judi Dench, Sam Mendes, Peter Hall and Laurence Olivier, after whom the awards are named.

Among the performers on the night will be Barry Manilow, as SOLT attempts to raise the profile of the awards and compete with the more influential Tonys in the United States.

Organizers are hoping a red carpet before the show will attract more stars to the event and the public can watch the awards live on digital television. They announced a new sponsorship deal with MasterCard earlier this year.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)