GUEST BLOG: Theatre Producer Katy Lipson on what it takes to produce a show
Young producer ARIA ENTERTAINMENT’s KATY LIPSON is currently producing the musical theatre festival FROM PAGE TO STAGE (FPTS), Yank! (Charing Cross Theatre), The Addams Family (UK National Tour), Hair (The Vaults) and The Toxic Avenger (Edinburgh Festival and Arts Theatre) as well as PIPPIN and LITTLE WOMEN (Hope Mill Theatre).
Being a theatre producer is a job like no other but one I wouldn’t change for anything in the world.
As a producer I have to wake up with an idea for a show. I have to think about who would want to see it and where and how I could present it. It might be a revival or a completely new commission – but for me it is always a musical. You have to have passion and a vision of what you want to produce.
Once I have the rights (which can take some negotiating skills!) I then have to choose the right creative and production team to actualise the vision; book a theatre, decide on ticket prices, do a budget and raise the money! And only then do we audition and contract the artists.
Then it’s the whirlwind of overseeing the whole project, supporting the creative team and cast whilst managing the budget and reporting back to my investors about ticket sales and the progress of the production. I often manage a team of over 100 people and have to make instant decisions. But on opening night as the lights go down and you feel the anticipation of your audience – there’s nothing like it….
No time to relax and enjoy an opening night party too much, as at the same time as doing one project I’m working on 5 other shows in the same way; plus planning a future season for say 2018, 2019 and even 2020! You have to spin plates, have good people around you and be incredibly organised.
I first produced my new musical theatre festival FROM PAGE TO STAGE (FPTS) in 2013 and now it’s our 5th and grown into an International Summer Festival. And I’m thrilled that Andrew Lloyd Webber asked if I would bring FPTS to THE OTHER PALACE for 3 weeks from 14th August – 3rd September.
FROM PAGE TO STAGE (FPTS) is a mammoth project to organise in itself – especially when we also have so many other productions opening/running. We have to plan FPTS so far ahead, reaching out to writers all around the world asking them to submit their new, unproduced musicals. This year we had 302 submissions to read and listen to and decide which we want to present. At the same time, I need to assign the right creative teams for each project, secure a theatre to present the festival in and raise all of the money for this important non for profit activity. We need to cast appropriately and then contract and engage all artistes, book rehearsal rooms for 3 shows a day and schedule and market the festival.
This is our biggest festival with 10 new musicals and 3 amazing concerts. We’re nearly up to opening FPTS and last month I was in LA to meet Burt Bacharach, who at nearly 90 has written the most beautiful new musical SOME LOVERS with the amazing Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) – Burt and Steven have entrusted me to produce it as the headline musical for FPTS. What an honour. To see all of these new musicals come to life is worth all the hard work. So now with 60+ cast, 18 creatives and over 50 composers and writers – I might not be waking up with a new idea for a show for a couple of weeks!
FPTS – From Page to Stage Summer Festival: Monday 14 August – Sunday 3 September 2017
The Other Palace – 12 Palace Street, Westminster, London SW1E 5JA.
Ticket prices from £7.50 – £20.
Box Office: theotherpalace.co.uk / 020 7087 7900
www.frompage2stage.com FPTS twitter: @FromPage2Stage