William Gabelhausen profile story

William Gabelhausen wasn’t supposed to become a theatre artist, but an Aha! Moment in his early high school years caused him to approach the rest of his life with a thirst for the performing arts.

“Somebody said, ‘You wanna try out for a musical?’ And I was like, ‘Heck yeah!’ So I got hooked,” said William Gabelhausen, department chair and associate professor of theatre at Piedmont College. “And then after high school, I debated — I really wanted to do theatre. But the commonsense side of me said I should go into mechanical drafting, which I was really good at. And every male in my family has worked at Caterpillar Tractors, so that just seemed the logical step, but I chose to study theatre.”

Gabelhausen abandoned the family career path to study theatre at Illinois Wesleyan University, and then moved to New York City to pursue his dream. His first day job was at a casting agency called Soble/LaPadura Casting, where he was able to take off work to attend his own auditions when possible. Gabelhausen, who is originally from Peoria, Illinois, moved away after awhile because the city began to make him feel restless.

“Living in the city kind of made me into a person that I didn’t want to become,” said Gabelhausen. “And I had seen other people like that — friends who graduated before me. I felt very hardened. And being from the Midwest, after so many years in New York, I felt very closed in.”

Gabelhausen didn’t let that stop him, however, from experiencing life in the Big Apple— if only for a short while.

“I did a couple other smaller things in New York. I never made it to the big old Broadway,” said Gabelhausen. “But then I got national tours and ended up touring with “A Chorus Line” and “1776.” And then after I did my master’s degree, I toured with “Taming of the Shrew” and “The Elephant Man” and that’s kind of what left me in Atlanta.”

Gabelhausen’s heart, however, lies in education.

“I got my MED (master’s of education) in secondary English education and was very lucky right upon completing that,” said Gabelhausen. “I was hired at Oconee County High School as part-time English, part-time drama (teacher) my first year, and then my second year I went full-time drama.”

During his 11th year teaching at Oconee County High School, Piedmont College reached out to Gabelhausen and he accepted a job, thinking he would only work there for a year. Instead, he fell in love with Piedmont and decided to continue teaching there.

“I really love working with Bill because he is so passionate towards his profession,” said Tyler Vandiver, a junior theatre arts major and student assistant to William Gabelhausen. “The one thing that I admire about him is that he is really caring towards all of his students.”

Gabelhausen uses his professional experience in his teaching and directing methods at Piedmont College to help his students.

“Bill has already taught me so much about the process of seeking jobs in the world of theatre in audition techniques,” said Kaitlyn Echols, a senior musical theatre and theatre for youth double major, and one of the students in Gabelhausen’s audition techniques class. “I’m learning so much, and beginning to feel more and more prepared for graduation in May.”

One show in particular that Gabelhausen directed this past fall is very dear to him for several reasons. Gabelhausen’s passion for directing “A Chorus Line” was contagious and made an impact on the students involved, as well as sparking some old memories for Gabelhausen too.

“The second [Broadway show] I ever saw was “A Chorus Line” and just fell in love with that,” said Gabelhausen. “And I haven’t touched that script really in any way, shape or form until I directed it this season and it brought back some really amazing memories.”

Gabelhausen is a firm believer in using real-life experiences as tools for teaching students the art of theatre.

“Really in any class that I teach here, I try to rely heavily on the real world because that’s the ultimate goal for any student,” said Gabelhausen.

Even though Gabelhausen’s talents and dreams led him to New York City to pursue performing, his heart led him to Demorest, Georgia to teach students the art form he so dearly loves.

“I love that Aha! Moment when, all the sudden, somebody gets something or realizes something,” said Gabelhausen. “That’s very exciting to an educator.”

Source: William Gabelhausen, wgabelhausen@piedmont.edu 706-778-8500 x1320

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