Eric Cantrell

Discovering his own special place in the world

The most important person Eric Cantrell met at Doane? Eric Cantrell.

The 20-something, working-his-way-into-the-entertainment-industry version. The one whose addresses have already included the Middle East country of Jordan and Hollywood, Calif.

When he arrived at Doane in 1996—a student from the rural Nebraska town of Fairmont —Eric planned to become a computer systems analyst. But Doane’s close-knit campus has a way of inspiring students to stretch beyond the borders they bring with them and soon, Eric found himself drawn to the theatre department. Not only did theatre welcome him, even as a first-year student who hadn’t declared a major, it also provided Eric with a circle of friends, his major, and a bright future. It was the kind of opportunity he had hoped to find at Doane.

Why he chose to be a Doane graduate 

“I remember turning down a big public school,” says Eric. “I wanted to be a big fish in a small pond instead of a little fish lost in an ocean.” At Doane, he dabbled in activities ranging from the college newspaper and radio station to photography, band, choir and of course, theatre.

How Doane helped him in life

In his junior year, a professor took Eric to Midwest Theatre Auditions in St. Louis, Mo., for summer stock theatre work.

“Basically, we had to ‘sell’ ourselves to hundreds of theatres from around the country…and I landed an internship with the lighting crew for Western Michigan ’s Cherry County Playhouse. Then, shortly before graduation in 2000, I used my contacts from that internship to land an opportunity with an outdoor drama company in Ohio …which is how I catapulted into the entertainment industry” on a Miami cruise ship, completing a crash course as a lighting technician.

Industry contacts next gave him an out-of-the blue opportunity to help create the country of Jordan's new tourist attraction, “The Jordan Experience." He made many memorable trips to the Middle East country, met members of Jordan’s royal court, and the completed attraction lived up to its billing as a “magic carpet ride through the land where adventure began.” In addition, he also served as lighting designer for the Royal Automobile Museum in Amman, Jordan.

Eric’s next stop was Hollywood. Thus far, his experiences there have included a spot on an episode of Monster House and background roles on such television hits as CSI, Scrubs, and Will & Grace. He is currently a video technician for Wynn Las Vegas’s production of “Le Rêve."

Challenge yourself at Doane

"It is the kind of place that pushes you to excel in whatever you do.” explains Eric as he recalls all his memorable experiences at Doane. “Whether it’s computer programming or theatre, there is a passion for knowledge here that really engages you. I remember the faculty, especially, challenged me constantly to do more than I thought I could. Looking back, I’m glad they did.”

Not surprisingly, Eric feels that no matter where work takes him next, a piece of him will always belong at Doane.

“What I enjoyed most about Doane was the sense of belonging.  It is such a close-knit community that even now, when I visit, I feel like I’m with family.”

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