Katy Lipson is an independent producer renowned for her love of new musicals and passion to bring them to life on stage. Having produced countless hit shows at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, successful UK tours, fringe shows across the country and even the Page To Stage festival, Katy Lipson is paving the way for new musical theatre.
“I thrive in producing at all different levels. I have things in development, things at the fringe, I look at doing things in the commercial model. I love how it all compliments each other and I think that’s what makes a better producer,” she says.
A lot of it Katy figured out herself, from growing up in a musical family where Katy and her brother would always be having music lessons and taking part in the school plays. She described it as a very creative house, but she had an inhibition that she was always interested in business. “I couldn’t live without music, but it wasn’t until I was in London at university and started putting on shows, did the idea of forming a business appeal to me,” Katy explains. “When I was Musical Director for a show in Southend called The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, I remember sitting in the pit each night thinking how magical it could be if it was done a little differently.”
Katy then commissioned the rights from the composer and put on a different version of the show – creating a real lightbulb moment. She then formed Aria Entertainment, went on a producing course and the rest is history. “With baby steps of producing fringe show after fringe show, then festivals, concerts and more, I started to learn the craft,” Katy says.
Katy emphasises that she refuses to go and raise lots of money for a big show just to be a name on a poster. “I don’t care about that,” she says. “I just want to produce theatre, and for me that’s having an idea, choosing a director and finding a theatre. By doing that for the last five years I’ve been able to things like the Addams Family tour last year and the Hair tour this year. But at the same time, not forgetting my roots on the fringe and trying to ethically produce in small theatres too.”
“You just learn and I progressed at my own speed, I was in control of my own destiny, I asked for help when I needed it and figured the rest out.”
Starting her year by opening on of the Hope Mill Theatre’s most successful shows Aspects of Love at the Southwark Playhouse, Katy is excited for London to see this show. “I think it’s very honest, it’s very truthful and relevant. Every person in the audience will see something from their lives in those characters,” Katy explains. “It is just incredible to see such passion, honesty and fragility displayed on stage in this intimate space. You can’t buy that experience.”
“I think that Aspects has always been known as a romantic show, lush strings and beautiful orchestrations, but this brings it right back down to the honesty and truthfulness of it. It’s Aspects of Love redefined for the 21stCentury and I think it couldn’t be more relevant.”
Katy couldn’t think about the fact Aspects of Love would close at the Hope Mill Theatre and that would be it. After falling in love with the score, she wanted to do a completely new version that hadn’t been seen on Broadway or the West End. Not only that, but she saw a great opportunity to bring a musical by an iconic British composer to the Hope Mill Theatre, and to gain great exposure for the venue that way. Now with it opening in London, she really believes the show has further life.
“When you produce on the fringe, you have to understand how much love is there. Your heart sings for these shows, they’re your children and you do it for love.”
Looking back on the last few years, Katy is proud of how her company has grown. The UK Tour of the Addams Family was a huge moment for her. “It made the industry see that I wasn’t just a prolific fringe producer who was passionate, they also saw that I could raise the money, and you get a lot more respect when you can do it all,” she says. “My dream is to develop a musical that has a legacy in the landscape for new musicals in Britain and I want to do it again and again.”
“I don’t just want to be known for doing a great revival of something, I want to be known like the great American producers, who produce musical after musical on Broadway. To think the same men that found Jonathan Larson found Lin Manuel-Miranda, and I want to be that person.”
Aspects of Love is on at the Southwark Playhouse until the 9th of Feb, tickets can be found on the website.