Katy Lipson, 32, has produced over 50 shows, mostly musical theatre. Few school and college students really understand what producing is and what a crucial part of the theatre industry it is. They could learn a lot from the hardworking Katy, as Susan Elkin discovers.

Her company, Aria Entertainments, currently has The Addams Family on tour and an ambitious three-week new writing From Page to Stage festival ran at London’s The Other Palace last month. Yank! did well at Charing Cross Theatre this summer and there’s masses of work coming up at Hope Mill in her native Manchester. Grass doesn’t get much chance to grow under Katy’s feet who is talking to me with rapid fluency and warm enthusiasm in the café at King’s Place near King’s Cross, just along the road from her “home office”. Personable and persuasive with her long dark hair and Mancunian accent, she is sipping a skinny hot chocolate as she recalls what has brought her to this point in her career – which doesn’t, she admits, include much sleep or time off.

She absorbed performing arts from babyhood. “My family was very keen on music and theatre” she says. I played two instruments before I was 10 and a third when I got to secondary school. Passionate about it from a young age I did local shows, shows with my brother and lots more and it seemed to be the way forward to me but everything I did was focused on performing because, like so many school students, I didn’t know about anything other aspect of theatre.” But Katy, who I suspect is seriously bright, also had what she carefully calls “academic interests”, so she did A levels in music, drama, biology and chemistry and then came south to start a degree in human genetics at University College London.

By the time she was 19, a year later, theatre had grabbed her by the throat. “A good friend I made at college and I decided to write and stage a show. I played the piano and MD’d it. We each borrowed £1000 from a family member and we put in a thousand pounds from our savings. We staged it in a Camden church with four singers and a three-piece band. We called the company A Stage Kindly, an anagram of our names and I gave up university to do more shows.

Katy ran A Stage Kindly for three years focusing on American and European new musicals. “We had lots of fun and always managed to pay our casts something, auditioned in the normal way, by splitting the ticket sales. Meanwhile she trained at London School of Musical Theatre and got some jobs both as a performer and as an MD. She also did a degree in classical music at Goldsmiths College, graduating when she was 23. “I worked ridiculously hard during those years” she recalls with a grin.

Then she realised that producing was what she liked doing best and in 2012 she set up Aria Entertainments to give herself a fresh start as a solo producer. “My aim was simply to produce the music that I love” says Katy who favours a strong book or plot and music which propels real story telling.

“Approaching people and networking came next” says Katy. “I quite quickly got shows on at the Landor, the Finborough and the Union theatres which felt like a fantastic achievement” says Katy. “Then came the Arcola, the St James and the Southwark Playhouse”. At the same time, she was paying her bills by working as a voice coach at Trinity, Central and other schools. “I was able to do less and less teaching as time went on” she says.

She is now co-artistic director at Hope Mill, Manchester too. “Manchester has never had a fringe but Hope Mill has a ‘warehouse feel’ a bit like the Chocolate Menier Factory in London. Her show Parade there was highly praised and Hair, which is transferring to London’s The Vaults for a 16 week immersive season from 12 October, was reviewed nationally.

This year Aria Entertainments received 302 submissions for its From Page to Stage festival. “The number is gradually whittled down by readers to the thirty-five I look at myself” says Katy, expressing delight that so many creators are now interested. There will be a three-month slot for next year’s submissions from November to February.

This year, for the first time, Katy has been able to pay herself a salary and she has taken on a full time assistant producer. Next year she will employ an apprentice which will give her, in effect, a second assistant. “And I use freelance project managers – individuals to run specific shows – which works well for us at the moment” she says.

Katy Lipson’s future looks rosy and she’s hoping soon to carve out more time to talk to people, network and travel the world to see shows – she currently makes three trips a year to the USA. Meanwhile there are five shows at Hope Mill next year, among many other projects. She says her ultimate ambition is to “champion a new musical all the way to Broadway” and I doubt that it will very long. She’s one of the most successful young producers in the country and her achievements are a good case study for any open-minded youngster desperate to “work in theatre”.