INTERVIEW WITH KATY LIPSON

Aria Entertainment was founded in 2012 by Katy Lipson. Katy has just been awarded the Best Producer award by the Off West End Awards and is a recipient of the Stage One Bursary and Start Up Award. Katy is currently lead producer on the UK Tour of The Addams Family and the 50th Anniversary production of Hair (London Vaults), which she originally co-produced with Hope Mill Theatre in 2016 - where she is Resident Producer and co-artistic director for in-house productions. She is also producing new musical The Toxic Avenger (The Arts Theatre, West End) post a run at The Edinburgh Festival's Pleasance Theatre and new musical Yank! (The Charing Cross Theatre).
Recent productions include: tick, tick...BOOM! (Park Theatre); Yank!, Parade and Hair (Hope Mill Theatre); Promises, Promises and The Toxic Avenger (Southwark Playhouse); Vanities The Musical (Trafalgar Studios); See What I Wanna See and The Return Of The Soldier (Jermyn Street Theatre); Bar Mitzvah Boy (The Gatehouse); The Adventures of Pinocchio, Lizzie and The Who's Tommy (Greenwich Theatre), The House of Mirrors & Hearts supported by Grant For The Arts (Arcola Theatre) and Marry Me A Little, Jerry’s Girls and Forever Plaid (St James Studio).
Katy is proud to have launched her annual From Page To Stage season of new musicals in 2014. Showcasing over 8 new musicals each year, the project was supported by Grant For The Arts in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The 2017 will take place this August at Andrew Lloyd-Webber's recently acquired theatre The Other Palace and is sponsored by RUG, TRW and RnH. 
Other current projects include: Pippin and Little Women (Hope Mill Theatre).

What is From Page to Stage and how has it developed over the years?
From Page to Stage is an International festival of new musical theatre; every year we open submissions for people to send us new un-produced material in development. My literary team and I then select the work which shows the most promise and present it in a format of staged readings, mini showcases, concerts and one headline musical. The festival began in 2012 and has grown each year with a host of commercial producers and NPO's attending the festival and asking to see further work. The purpose is not only to enrich the musical theatre ecology but to help audiences seed fund early work and gain an appetite for it. It allows us to find work with promise and writers with promise. We produce every single part of the festival; from choosing the work, to raising all of the money on a non-for-profit model, to assigning the creative teams, cast and marketing the full events. This year we present at The Other Palace from August 14-September 3.

What does Stage One mean to you and how has Stage One developed your career?
Without Stage One I'm not sure I would have had that 'light-bulb' moment when I thought "YES this is everything I want to do". Listening to the stories of experienced producers made me understand the true meaning behind thinking commercially and the combination of creativity and business one needs. On top of that the financial investment has been wonderful and allowed me to structure the growth of my company accordingly.

When did you first discover your passion for theatre and what was your journey to becoming a Theatre Producer?
I have loved theatre from as long as I can remember. I was involved both on the stage and as a Musical Director from the age of 5 upwards. I could play three instruments, compose and sing. After first studying a degree in Human Genetics and then doing a vocational year of training at The London School Of Musical Theatre, I eventually completed a 3 year degree in classical music. I began putting on my own shows and small cabarets which I Musically Directed in my early twenties under another theatre company but it was one particular show I MD'd away from this which I had a huge desire to develop further and inspired me to create Aria Entertainment. It was the moment I discovered that particular musical and Stage One when my career really started to evolve.

What do you look for when finding a new production to produce?
I only produce musicals so I'm answering in relation to that. I have to love it. I have to root and care for the characters and the music has to take me to another level. I have to really believe our modern audiences would connect with it.

Last show you saw and loved?
Come From Away on Broadway. It made me laugh and cry and I thought it was a genius piece of theatre with such heart and human spirit.

What do you think, is the best thing about the Theatre Industry?
I still have moments when looking and thinking about my full company and thinking 'we' did that. All the dots lined up and we worked together and created a live experience nothing else compares too. I feel immensely proud to think that it only began when I picked up that script and decided to invest my all into it. I also love how small the industry is in general and if you put the time in you could get to know a lot of people and learn a lot.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
To be ambitious and never assume you can't do anything before you try!

If you’d like to find out more about Aria Entertainment, click HERE.

If you want to be another "Rising Producer Star" like Katy, you can now apply to our Stage One Bursary scheme by clicking HERE.