Skylight Music Theatre
in Milwaukee announced today that Susan Varela
has been selected to be its new executive director.
Varela served as interim executive director since January 2023 and was chosen for the position after a national search. She will begin in her new role immediately.
“We value Susan’s leadership, enthusiasm, and passion for Skylight Music Theatre,” Valerie Johnson, president of the board of directors for Skylight, said in a press release. “We are confident she will help Skylight successfully move forward as we continue to recover from the challenges of the pandemic and help Skylight grow and strengthen what we do best – entertaining and delighting audiences with the full range of music theatre.”
Varela joined the Skylight staff in 2019 as director of artistic operations. Prior to that she had a 30-year career in theater that included performing, directing, and producing. As an actor Varela performed on Broadway in "Les Misérables" and in the National Tours of "Little Women: The Musical," "Cats," and "Evita." At Skylight she appeared in "Les Misérables," "The Wizard of Oz," "Into the Woods," and "Sweeney Todd." Locally and regionally, Varela has directed and produced entertainment content for special events, non-profits, and TV commercials.
Varela attended Greendale High School and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. In addition to performing at Skylight, she has been seen at First Stage, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and in cabarets and concerts across the country with her husband, Andrew Varela.
“I am thrilled to accept this position,” said Varela. “As someone born and raised in Milwaukee, this theater has had a place in my heart for decades. When Andrew and I left New York to raise our son, we chose to settle here. Skylight Music Theatre has been our artistic home ever since, and it is an incredible honor to now lead this organization. I look forward to working closely together with the artists and professionals who make up Skylight to navigate current challenges and to generate new excitement as we make Skylight ‘Milwaukee’s home for music theatre.’”
Skylight’s previous executive director, Jack Lemmon, served in the role from 2015-2022
. The national search for his replacement was conducted by Management Consultants for the Arts.
Founded in 1959, Skylight Music Theatre is a professional “equity music theatre company” and the largest employer of Wisconsin actors in the state.