Passionate Pursuits: Stage Actor and Hall of Fame Musician

The purpose of Excelsior Life’s Passionate Pursuits is to help shine a light on faculty and staff successfully balancing work, home and family – just like our students.

Harry Kantrovich is the director of Excelsior College’s Washington DC Center, a non-instructional outreach and support office that helps adult learners realize opportunities available through distance-learning programs. In this role, he is responsible for corporate, association, veteran, and community college partnership development, recruitment and enrollment in the D.C. area.

Prior to joining Excelsior, Kantrovich had an eclectic military career, which included serving as a Master Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy. He also served two terms on the National Board of Directors for the Surface Navy Association, and as a member of the scholarship committee for the Fleet Reserve Association, a non-profit organization chartered by Congress that represents the interests of the Sea Service community (Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard) before Congress.

Outside of work, Kantrovich has a passion for acting and music. Very active in professional and community theatre throughout the DC Metro area, he was recently cast in the musical South Pacific in the role of Captain George Brackett, USN. The play opened in May 2014 at Castaway’s Repertory Theatre in Woodbridge, Virginia.

In addition, on Sunday, August 31, 2014 Kantrovich’s high school band “Instant Blues Machine” will be inducted into the Iowa Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Excelsior Life: How did you first become interested in acting?

Kantrovich: I started acting in 1971 after my brother-in-law took me to a rehearsal of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I was cast in the role of Centurion to perform at the Sioux City Community Theatre in Iowa. After a football injury in college, I became very interested in theatre, acted in college productions, and was awarded a scholarship to study and act in England.

Excelsior Life: Did you pursue acting once you received your scholarship?

Kantrovich: The scholarship was the catalyst to my professional acting career which began in England and continued for a couple of years after college graduation.

In 1974, I played MacDuff in MacBeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. I also played Vincentio in The Taming of the Shrew at Shaw Theatre in London, England.

Excelsior Life: In what other theatre productions have you been involved?

Harry Kantrovich

Kantrovich: Over the last 40 plus years, I have performed in numerous shows both professionally and in community theatre. As mentioned, roles varied from Shakespeare such as MacBeth and The Taming of the Shrew, to Dramas such as Judgment at Nuremberg, The Lion in Winter, to comedies such as The Man Who Came to Dinner and You Can’t Take it With You. I also acted in musicals such as Godspell, My Fair Lady and Calamity Jane.

Excelsior Life: You’ll have a role in South Pacific this coming May. Since it is a musical, will you be singing?

Kantrovich: Although I do sing, I will not in South Pacific.

Excelsior Life: What did you have to do to prepare for this role?

Kantrovich: I always study the time period, any historical events (such as WW II in this case), and the writer’s character information. South Pacific is based on three short plays among 17 from James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific so I have plenty of additional material to study.

Excelsior Life: We learned you also have a music background and will be inducted into a Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Can you explain?

Kantrovich: My rock n’ roll band from high school, the Instant Blues Machine (IBM), will be inducted into the Iowa Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame this coming Labor Day Weekend. The Iowa Rock ’n’ Roll Music Association (IRRMA) was formed in 1997 in order to retain and preserve the legacy of rock ‘n’ roll music in Iowa. Every Labor Day weekend the IRRMA Hall of Fame inducts bands, musicians and others that have contributed to rock ‘n’ roll music in the state.