Entertainment & Arts

Stephen Sondheim to receive special Olivier Award

Stephen Sondheim
Image caption Stephen Sondheim has been honoured with eight Tony awards in the US

American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim is to receive the prestigious Special Award at the Laurence Olivier Awards later this month.

The honour is being presented in recognition of his contribution to London theatre, organisers have said.

Previous recipients of the award include Sir Alec Guinness, Dame Judi Dench, Sam Mendes and Sir Peter Hall.

Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton are to host this year's ceremony. Musical Love Never Dies has seven nominations.

Over a career spanning seven decades, Sondheim, 80, has won numerous theatre awards including an Oscar for best song in 1990 for Sooner or Later from the film Dick Tracy.

Some of his best known works include West Side Story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and A Little Night Music.

He wrote the music and lyrics to Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd, which Olivier hosts Staunton and Ball will star in together at the Chichester Festival Theatre in September.

Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies leads the way with seven nominations at this year's awards ceremony.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber show is up for best new musical, while its stars Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess and Summer Strallen are in line for acting prizes.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Anne-Marie Duff, Lost star Matthew Fox, Mad Men actress Elisabeth Moss and Rupert Everett are among the stars who will be handing out prizes on the night.

The ceremony, which takes place on 13 March at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane, will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 and there will be live red carpet coverage on television via the BBC's red button.

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