Katy Lipson, 32, started Aria Entertainment in 2012 having put on musical theatre shows since she was 19. Aria’s productions currently include off-Broadway transfer Yank! at Charing Cross Theatre and The Addams Family, which is touring the UK.
Musical theatre festival From Page to Stage runs for three weeks at the Other Palace next month and Lipson also stages work regularly at Hope Mill in Manchester where she is co-artistic director. She won producer of the year at the Offies in February and the Hope Mill was shortlisted in The Stage Awards 2017.
Here are her tips for prospective theatre producers:
To succeed, you have to be prepared for a great deal of hard graft. At one point, I was completing my classical music degree at Goldsmiths while helping to create and manage new musicals. I did pretty much everything myself. Even now, I don’t sleep much and get very little time off.
Your research needs to be bang up to date. You should know who is doing what show, where and when. You also need to know how it all works and how a production comes together. That means seeing a lot of shows and developing a nose for business. Making the books balance is as important as the quality of the composer’s best song.
Talk to composers, directors, venues and company managers. Show them your brochures and make sure you can talk up your all important game plan. I was invited to talk to someone senior at Really Useful Group recently. It led to a one-on-one meeting with Andrew Lloyd Webber and an invitation to transfer From Page to Stage from the Tristan Bates Theatre to the Other Palace. These things happen.
How did other people get to where you want to be? Learn about the CVs of people like Sonia Friedman, Kenny Wax and Michael Harrison. Find out about their backgrounds and training, how they started and what they did to make things happen.
There is no set career path for producers. I started as a musician with a love of theatre but wasn’t even aware of producing as a career when I was growing up. Others have been to drama school for three years and trodden the boards themselves. Some have worked as technicians. Or you could have a business background. The key things are to love theatre and to be business-savvy.