Founding Executive Director
Jeffrey Gabel is the Founding Executive Director of Gettysburg College's Majestic Theater in the heart of historic, downtown Gettysburg. Hired in 2003, Gabel supervised the successful $16.5 capital campaign and building project to fully restore the 1925 Colonial Revival vaudeville and silent movie theater and expand it into the 60,000 square foot Jennifer and David LeVan Performing Arts Center which includes the 800 seat historic theater and two cinemas, an art gallery, café, lobbies, backstage rehearsal hall and production facilities, and a roof top swimming pool for the adjacent Hotel Gettysburg. Gabel also created the center's business plan including branding, staffing, programming, marketing, fundraising and concessions. Since its grand re-opening in 2005, the center has presented over 1,400 live performances with leading artists from around the world, nearly 10,000 daily showings of first-run independent art films, raised $1.4 million for local non-profits from fundraisers, and generated more than $600,000 in new amusement taxes to support local government and schools. In 2015 on the theater's 90th birthday, Gabel launched the Majestic Centennial Endowment Fund which has raised $3.5 million to enhance programming.
In 2016, Gabel was elected chairman of the League of Historic American Theatres, a national board on which he's served since 2011, the same year Gov. Tom Corbett appointed him to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and then Vice Chair in 2015. Before joining Gettysburg College, Gabel was Executive Director of the Portsmouth, NH 1876 Music Hall, the oldest opera house in New England. During his five year tenure, he reversed the theater's negative financial position by increasing annual donations by $200,000, launching the Telluride by the Sea Film Festival (now celebrating its 18th year) and securing a $400,000 Save America's Treasures grant from the U.S. Department of Interior.
Gabel enjoyed a 15 year career in public television in Maine and Alaska as an award-winning quiz show host, producer, publicist, fundraiser, and station manager. His broadcasting career culminated with a seven year appointment to the PBS national office in Washington, D.C. in 1984 where he served first as Associate Director of Cultural Programming in charge of Classical Music, and then as the national Director of Children's Programming. He is credited with helping to develop award-winning new series including Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?, The Magic School Bus, and Barney the Dinosaur. At PBS, Gabel served on national advisory and grant review panels for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment of the Arts. In 1991, Current Magazine named him "One of the 10 most important people in public broadcasting" for his role in programming the Metropolitan Opera's epic 15-hour telecast of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle.
Gabel hails from Camp Hill, PA and holds a B.A. Degree in Opera from Mansfield University. He began his show business career in 1971 just outside of Gettysburg as a clown with a small student circus and was immediately hired to tour professionally for several seasons with Hoxie Bros., the 2nd largest big top circus in America playing 300 consecutive one night stands annually. As Chuckles the Clown, he appeared as a special guest on the national television series Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood in 1986.