WATERVILLE — You might say Tamsen Brooke Warner was a shoe-in for the position of executive director of the Waterville Opera House,

Warner, 27, who replaces Diane Bryan, has done just about every job imaginable at the opera house the last several years, including that of assistant executive director, box office manager, stage manager and scenic painter.

The Waterville native started Jan. 1 in her new position, where she oversees several staff members and an annual $500,000 operational budget.

Warner said she never dreamed she would come back home to Waterville after college to work in her hometown opera house, but it turned out to be “one of the best decisions that I’ve made.”

“It’s like a second home to me. I’ve been here pretty much every hour of the day,” she said in an interview Monday. “I’m definitely a theater person.”

Warner, who earns $47,000 a year, directs day-to-day operations of the 115-year-old, 802-seat theater, works with directors to choose the next season of shows, serves as liaison between the Waterville Opera House board of directors and staff and does fundraising. She also is the voice people hear on local radio stations touting the opera house, which is on the top floor of the City Hall building downtown.

Bryan, who had been executive director 12 years, is staying on for the next few months, probably through April, as “director emerita,” or honorary director, acting as a consultant for Warner and the opera house.

Having known Warner since Warner was a child, Bryan said she is confident she will do a great job as executive director. She said Warner’s penchant for organization goes well with her artistic spontaneity.

“She is hard-working, she is determined, she will take something and make sure that it’s a success, as it’s meant to be,” Bryan said. “While she may be but 27, she’s wise beyond her years.”

The Waterville Opera House, Maine Film Center, Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville Main Street and Waterville Public Library founded Waterville Creates! to help market the five organizations and help grow and support arts in the greater Waterville Area.

Nate Towne, marketing director for Waterville Creates!, works closely with the Opera House, Bryan and Warner.

“What strikes me about Tamsen — she’s fabulous, but she is shrewd,” Towne said. “She is a shrewd businesswoman. I have been just very impressed with her work and how thoughtful she is. She runs a tight ship. It’s amazing. The torch-bearing is perfect.”

Warner grew up in Waterville, where she attended the opera house’s summer theater. She graduated in 2007 from Waterville Senior High School, where she studied theater under Gayle Giguere, the current theater director, and appeared in both “South Pacific” and “Oliver.”

She studied stage management and scenic painting at University of Connecticut, where she received a bachelor’s in theater studies with a concentration in stage management.

She returned to Waterville in 2012 and worked on “Jekyll & Hyde” at the opera house. After that, she worked on about every show there, either stage managing or painting scenery.

“I think the best one she did was ‘Mary Poppins’ in April 2016,” Bryan said. “It was absolutely brilliant — beautiful painting.”

At the time, Warner also was assistant executive director of the opera house, a role she took on a year ago. Before that, she was box office manager and was hired as stage manager on several shows as an independent contractor.

Warner said she loved performing in shows initially, but her priorities changed over the years.

“The idea that she didn’t want to be a performer was probably the best calling card for her to be groomed for this job,” Bryan said. “I knew she would be more capable of understanding the theater and moving the vision forward because she understood all of it. Tamsen is brilliant and knows theater and is more than competent to run things.”

Warner, who works between 40 and 60 hours a week, said she is thrilled to be in the executive director position and enjoys working with Bryan, whose institutional knowledge and mentorship are invaluable.

“The fact that I’ve been working with Diane for almost three years and that she has that faith in me — I’m very excited to take this on,” she said. “I can’t fill her gorgeous high heels, but I’m very excited to work with all the members of our community and Waterville Creates!”

Bryan, who became executive director in 2004, guided the Waterville Opera House through a $5.5 million renovation in 2011 and 2012 during a time when the economy was struggling in central Maine.

“Because of the people here and the businesses here and grants, a wonderful thing was made whole for the community,” Bryan said.

She said the best thing that has happened to arts organizations in the city is the development of Waterville Creates!, which works closely with each one and they work very well together.

Meanwhile, Warner said the opera house plans to make an exciting announcement soon about a concert that is planned for the facility. “We have to sign the contract before we announce,” she said.

Upcoming productions include “It’s Only a Play,” a comedy about theater people, to open Jan. 27, and “The Little Mermaid,” which opens March 31.

“Randy and Lahey,” a comedy show set for Feb. 10, is already sold out, according to Warner.

Staffers at the Opera House include Emilienne Ouellette, box office manager; Deanna Morris, box office assistant; Chris Cote, programming and production manager; Jayson Murray, venue technician; and Jamie Pomerleau, technical assistant. Tony Gerow will be the new technical director starting in February.

The opera house is funded through donations, grants, sponsorships and ticket sales. Ticket sales represent about 42 percent of the funding, according to Bryan and Warner, who say the opera house is doing very well.

“We had two very successful productions this fall — ‘Young Frankenstein’ and ‘A Christmas Story,'” Warner said.

Bryan said she plans to spend more time with her family after retirement, but will remain available to help and plans to attend opera house shows.

As she, Warner and Towne chatted Monday in Bryan’s office, which opens into Warner’s office off the Waterville Opera House lobby, longtime actress Marie Cormier stopped by. Cormier was performing in “Kitchen Witches” at the opera house in 2014 when she met Warner, who was box office manager but performing other duties as well.

Cormier said she loves it that Warner has been hired as executive director.

“I had a good time with her,” Cormier said. “We are birds of a feather.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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