June 2024: Gettysburg College's Majestic Theater welcomes new executive director

Gettysburg College’s Majestic Theater announces the arrival of new executive director Brett W. Messenger, who joins the theater’s team after an extensive and competitive national search. Messenger succeeds Jeffrey Gabel, who retired as the Majestic’s founding executive director in early 2024.

Prior to his arrival in Gettysburg, Messenger served as Curatorial Director of Live Arts at the Morris Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate located in Morristown, N.J, operating their 312-seat Bickford Theatre. While there, he spearheaded the creation of a dynamic performing arts series, showcasing world premieres of theatre, music, dance, interdisciplinary projects, jazz, film, rock, and lectures. His visionary leadership elevated the institution's artistic profile and deepened its connections with the community, particularly through inventive outdoor live performance initiatives launched during the pandemic that garnered national press attention and was described by The New York Times as “Live Music Splendor in a Parking Lot” and said it was “Joyous to be in Jersey.” While there he increased both earned and contributed revenues and built lasting collaborations with both local and internationally acclaimed artists and ensembles including an ongoing presenting relationship with the Grammy Award-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

Messenger previously held posts at the Santa Fe Opera, and Montclair State University’s Peak Performances where he produced an internationally acclaimed performance series and orchestrated major campus events, including an event featuring the late Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“I am incredibly excited to join the dynamic team of professionals here at the Majestic! Everyone here has given me such a hospitable welcome – it didn’t take long at all for me to realize what a truly remarkable community Gettysburg is,” said Messenger. “I look forward to getting to know our audiences, both on campus and off, and to getting to know them better through shared experiences in the arts. Jeffrey Gabel’s visionary leadership cemented the Majestic Theater’s reputation industry wide, and I look forward joining the thriving creative community in Gettysburg to contribute to the Majestic’s next era as the grandest small-town theater in America."

May 2024: Majestic Theater's 2024-2025 Season Kicks Off August 9

Musical tributes and dazzling physical feats will fill the historic 1925 auditorium at Gettysburg College’s Majestic Theater when the 2024-2025 Celebrity Season kicks off this August. The season lineup includes classic rock and roll, jazz, the universal languages of comedy and percussion, daring street acrobatics and athleticism, and the annual one-night Mountainfilm on Tour screening event. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, June 21. Majestic members can access ticket pre-sales starting Wednesday, June 19. For more information and the full schedule click here.

May 2024: Summer Classic Movies return to the Majestic on June 5

Gettysburg College’s Majestic Theater celebrates beloved cinema classics from the late 20thcentury with the 2024 Summer Classic Movie series kicking off June 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the historic 1925 auditorium. Enjoy classic movies in the beautifully restored historic theater every Wednesday night through August 21. Tickets for each film are just $8 and are on sale now. Advanced ticket purchase is strongly recommended.

New this year, movie-goers are invited to enjoy mocktails or coffee with fellow film fans every Wednesday evening before the show at Waldo’s and Company, Gettysburg’s non-profit community arts and culture space located nearby in the basement of 17 Lincoln Square.

For the full schedule click here.

July 2023: Majestic Theater Discontinues Met Opera Live in HD Series

Gettysburg College’s Majestic Theater announced this week it will not present the Metropolitan Opera's 2023-2024 live telecasts in its historic theater. The reason for the cancellation is declining attendance.

“This business decision makes me really sad because I love opera and have attended the Met many times at Lincoln Center,” lamented Jeffrey Gabel, the Majestic’s founding executive director. “Unfortunately, the Met’s opera audience at the Majestic has slowly declined from a season high of 1,371 in 2011-2012 to 365 in 2021-2022. In the early years, we’d average 125 patrons at every telecast, and now its often less than 30. Our ticket sales no longer cover our out-of-pocket business expenses including satellite fees, utilities and staff.”

Gabel attributes a plethora of challenges for the declining opera attendance at the theater which includes the recently introduced Met Opera On-Demand Home streaming service, free PBS telecasts, and lingering post-COVID personal health concerns for older patrons. The Majestic will continue present the National Theatre Live productions from London, as well as Great Art on Screen documentaries, which remain very popular.

February 2023: Jeffrey Gabel to retire from Majestic Theater in January 2024

Jeffrey Gabel, the founding executive director of Gettysburg College’s Majestic Theater, announced today (Feb. 27) that he will retire in early January 2024 after 20 years of dedicated service. 

“It has been a privilege and pleasure to build ‘the grandest small-town theater in America,’ which has been so generously supported by the college and the community,” said Gabel. “Twenty years is a long run in show business, and my time at the Majestic has been the most gratifying period of my career. Having an opportunity to help shape this important college and community resource has been incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun! After nearly 40 years in the entertainment business, I’m looking forward to attending shows and movies at the Majestic as a carefree patron.”

“Jeffrey represents the very best of our community,” said Gettysburg College President Bob Iuliano. “His collaboration, his charisma, and his deep commitment to the arts have helped to build the Majestic Theater into all that it is today. Indeed, Jeffrey’s impact over the last two decades, reflected so vividly with a first-of-its-kind film festival this February, will undoubtedly be felt by Gettysburgians for decades to come. We wish him a joyous and well-deserved retirement.” 

Gabel joined the Gettysburg College administration in 2003 to lead the theater’s $16.5 million renovation that meticulously restored the 1925 vaudeville and silent movie theater and added a cinema wing with two theaters, an art gallery, café and backstage production wing.

In addition to programming more than 300 concerts by professional artists; raising $21.7 million in community support and establishing a $5.9 million endowment for programming support, Gabel counts producing the recent Ken Burns Film Festival—which drew sold-out audiences from 28 states across the country—among his most important accomplishments. Gabel also serves at the vice chair of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and is board member emeritus and past board chair of the League of Historic American Theatres.

Gettysburg College will launch a national search for a new executive director in the spring of 2023. The Majestic Theater at the LeVan Performing Arts Center in downtown Gettysburg is open year-round and presents a diverse lineup of more than 50 live performances by national and international performing artists, as well as a nightly lineup of independent, foreign and classic films. The Majestic also serves as the rehearsal and performance venue for the major instrumental ensembles of the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College.

February 2023: Who Are We?: A Festival Celebrating the Films of Ken Burns kicks off Feb. 10

Ken Burns comes to Gettysburg for the first ever festival dedicated solely to his work on February 10-12, 2023. More than a career retrospective, festival goers will engage with Burns, his collaborators, historians, and students in consequential conversations about the simple question Burns has explored in all his films: Who Are We? Burns will speak to Gettysburg College students before the festival begins on Friday, and will then headline three special live festival events. Other speakers and experts featured throughout the weekend include Jay Ungar, Molly Mason, Jacqueline Schwab, Geoffrey Ward, Kevin RIchardson, Alisha Sanders, Tracie Potts and Susan Eisenhower. For a full schedule of the weekend's events click here