Producer Katy Lipson talks about teaming up with Adam Lenson of Adam Lenson Productions to commission a new musical

Supporting our chamber musical theatre scene for many years, Adam Lenson of Adam Lenson Productions and Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment have both championed the creation of new work, an area of musical theatre little served. In a year that has witnesses our theatre landscape change due to the pandemic, both producers have responded with online streamed performances, Aria Entertainment also staging an outdoor immersive work. Inspired to join forces to continue on from their mission of supporting new writing, they’ve created the ‘Chamber Musical Project’, an initiative awarding a winning creative team with funding and further development of their show. Katy tells us more about the project!

Hi Katy, in collaboration with Adam Lenson of Adam Lenson Productions, you’re on the look out for a new musical to produce from a UK based artist. What inspired the collaboration?

Adam and I both have a real passion for new musical theatre and we have both worked on many revivals as well as new musicals. Through this pandemic there has been a real need to option smaller work which can work with social distancing and therefore we were acutely aware of the lack of British work in terms of chamber musicals profiled on some of the well known licensing houses and so wanted to offer a commission to a writing team specifically with that in mind. We also wanted to offer some positivity and financial support for writers who like a lot of freelancers often find it hard to earn from their work. 

You both ask that themes respond to the world we are living in today and that are innovative, bold, brave and new. What will you both be looking out for when assessing applications?

We want an idea which hits us emotionally and we feel represents the world we are living in so that we have a real chance of engaging audiences and creating a work which could have legacy. 

Both of you are aware of the lack of more established British chamber musicals within mainstream publishing and licensing houses and would like to help support UK-based writers in creating content which in the long term could fill these gaps. Why is this important for our musical industry?

As I said above we have to see British artists platformed. We need to support the genre and we need to think of the bigger picture. There’s only so many revivals left to profile; we must push work forward and invest in new talent now. By being a producer who is commissioning too means the show already has a chance to reach the stage. 

In what has been a challenging year, you’ve continued to champion small scale chamber musicals with the staging of The Last Five Years at the Southwark Playhouse. How have you found adapting how you work this year?

At first it was difficult understanding what was happening to us all and seeing how we were going to get through but then the whole time I’ve been adapting my approach in finding new ways to stage work and new projects to develop. I’ve been meeting 5 new people a week and reading 5 new projects and also thinking of the bigger picture for Aria. The Last 5 Years closed down in March so we were always going to make it a priority to try and get it back on the stage as soon as we could. A lot of work had to be done on budgeting, contracts, feasibility and risk wise. And then learning about the filming and streaming world has been fun and a great opportunity too. 

You’re the founder of the From Page to Stage Festival, an initiative committed to showcasing and supporting new musical theatre shows. What does it mean to be able to give new works a platform? What have you learned from running the festival? 

I produced 6 live festivals and have run a full time literary department since and we have supported over 100 new works in this time. Now I am focused on only doing the festival once we find enough work to produce which we have found through our department. New work takes time, money, creative leadership but also a strategy to bring it to market and finds its audience. What I know about the industry now is greater than what I knew back in 2012 and I am sure less than I will now by 2025! 

How will you support the chosen commission/s?

We will provide support as creative producers but we will also give the writers time to write this first draft. We will ask them to check in with us regularly with new material for the commission and give notes and guidance to the next steps. We will eventually produce readings and workshops of the show which would lead to full production and licensing. 

What advice can you give to writers submitting or considering submitting a musical?

Think about the story. What do you want to say and why. What is a chamber musical? How can you best tell a story with such small forces? What do people want to see on stage and why should they care about these characters.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

To find out more about the Chamber Musical Project, visit here…

To find out more about Katy Lipson’s production company Aria Entertainment, visit here…

To find out more about Adam Lesson Productions, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop