It’s kind of infectious chatting to Stephanie Smith.
The Blackpool girl is on the brink of something very special – seeing the musical she has written, at the tender ago of 26, hit the stage.
Stephanie drew on local inspiration to write Jog On, and The Gazette even played a part.
A local lady called Tricia Ellis decided to run the Edinburgh marathon in 2012 and put an advert in this paper appealing for women over 50 to join her in her mission.
“My mum was one of the women who responded,” said Stephanie. “They called themselves the Goalden Girls, and I got to know them all over the 18 months they were training and heard their incredible stories.”
She started writing about it while doing an MA in Musical Theatre in London and two years on the musical has been completed.
Now comes the tough bit – getting it on to the stage, and that’s where Stephanie needs help.
“We need Art Council funding because it costs so much to put something into production,” she explained.
“But to get that you have to raise money yourself and show them that people are supporting it and want the musical to happen.”
To that end Stephanie has launched a page on a website called Kickstarter, where people an make donations. She has 60 days to reach a minimum target of £1,000 ... though as it turned out, she didn’t quite require that long.
“We launched it before the weekend and the response was incredible,” she said.
“We thought we were going to really have to push it with friends and family but people got so behind it – people I went to school with who I haven’t spoken to for years were pledging, friends of friends, the network of encouragement has been incredible.”
The £1,000 target was passed within 48 hours but the aim is to encourage people to carry on giving – the more raised, the more chance the Arts Council will support it and the musical will take off.
“I really hope it happens because this is a Blackpool story, it is celebrating a group of women who did something really cool,” Stephanie said.
“In London there are big theatre donors who give millions of pounds.
“We haven’t got that – and I’m also an unknown writer so it is hard to get private funding – so it’s about proving to the Arts Council that people really want this show on.
“We want to deliver this to the people of Blackpool because it is their story and it is by a local writer. The more we can show the Arts Council that, the more they will help us.”
A showcase of Jog On before Christmas was a big success – two producers picked it up and took it into development.
There will be a two-week development workshop in April at the Winter Gardens and Farmer Parrs in Fleetwood (Stephanie says she’s hugely grateful to both venues for their support and help) – and at the end of that a free public showing.
That is not just for members of the public but also for also for industry professionals, potential co-producers and investors, and – if Steph gets their backing – the Arts Council.
“The fact that things are happening is really nice because when you are writing you are on your own and quite isolated, you are always thinking ‘is this going to happen, am I wasting my time?’” said Stephanie.
“I believe in the story so much and when I talk to people about it, they do get really excited – but that is hard to remember when you are on your own. So to have the level of support we’ve had with the Kickstarter page and so quickly was just phenomenal and it really reminds us why we are doing it and why it is so important.
“People we’ve never met are telling us it is such an awesome idea for a musical and it’s exactly the kind of show they want to see.
“That is great because it is not just about the money. OK, the money is critical but it is also about showing the Arts Council there are this many people that want the show to happen.”
* To help Stephanie head to www.kickstarter.com/projects/681615303/jog-on-a-new-musical. Anyone who donates £10 will receive a demo of five songs from the show which, as Stephanie very nicely puts it, “will be cool to have if the show takes off … and if it doesn’t then at least you’ll have five cheesy tunes to sing in the shower”.