Michelle Sweet is the new executive director of the Waterville Opera House. Photo courtesy of Waterville Opera House

The Waterville Opera House announced that it has promoted the venue’s interim executive director to permanent status in that role.

Michelle Sweet had been serving as the opera house’s interim executive director since Tamsen Brooke Warner left the post about three months ago to become finance and operations manager at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle. Brooke had been the opera house’s executive director for four years.

In a news release Tuesday, the opera house said Sweet’s promotion to executive director was effective Aug. 1.

“Sweet has a long history with the Waterville Opera House, first falling in love with the historic venue as an audience member,” the release said. “She became a volunteer and performer, eventually sharing the stage with her son Sam Maresh in the 2008 production of ‘The Full Monty’ and her daughter Kate Maresh in 2014’s ‘The Vagina Monologues.’ In 2017, she began working for the Waterville Opera House as the assistant executive director after a lengthy career in pediatric occupational therapy.”

Shannon Haines, president and CEO of Waterville Creates, which is the umbrella arts organization that oversees the opera house and other local groups, said Sweet had tackled the “daunting task” of reopening the opera house after a 16-month programming hiatus due to the pandemic.

“She has tremendous leadership skills, a high level of professionalism, and a positive outlook, and I am so grateful to have her at the helm of the Opera House,” Haines said.

Sweet said she sees the executive director role as a once-in-a-lifetime chance. “It was an unplanned career shift that I haven’t regretted for a single moment,” she said.

Among Sweet’s goals as director are to continue offering high-quality theatrical performances, bigger and more diverse concerts and professional broadcasts, and also to increase youth engagement in the performing arts.

The 810-seat opera house theater, located on the upper floor of Waterville’s City Hall, has been putting on public shows since 1902.

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