Play time! Sussex Tech senior pursuing lights on Broadway dream

GEORGETOWN — Play time for Eryk Bluto doesn’t mean hanging out at the mall or shooting hoops with friends at the neighborhood courts.

Acting, singing, plays and theatre are the name of his game.

He was bitten at a very young age by the stage performance bug.

“It was very early. I think it was probably around age 5,” Eryk says. “My first show actually was ‘Les Mis’ (Miserables) with the Possum Point Players.”

Pippin (Eryk Bluto) is surrounded by, clockwise from front left: Lauren Porter, Sydney Gross, Josh Hoffpauir, Abby Pardocchi, Megan Moriarty and Julia Sturla.

Like many young performers, an ultimate dream is the bright lights on Broadway.

“That,” he says, ‘is the dream.”

Now a 17-year-old Sussex Tech High School senior, Eryk has grown over the years into a leading player.

He recently had the role of Pippin in the Sussex Tech Drama Club’s production of “Pippin,” a 1972 Broadway musical.

Tech’s production has drawn “Ravenous” rave reviews.

Last year, Eryk was among the 2017 BroadwayWorld Delaware Award honorees, landing Best Actor in a Musical (nonprofessional) for his role in the Sussex Tech Drama Club’s production of “Fame.”

Eryk has acted in shows with the Possum Point Players, Second Street Players and Clear Space Theatre Company. He volunteered to co-direct a children’s choir for Second Street Players and worked with college students over the summer at Clear Space Theatre.

“Theatre is my life,” he says.

“Eryk is the model Sussex Tech Drama student,” said “Pippin” production director Anthony Natoli, an English instructor at Sussex Tech. “He has been part of every show Tech Drama has performed during his four years here. He has worked harder and with more commitment than any other student I have taught to improve himself and become the performer that he is today.

“Eryk entered the program behind a series of very talented performers and had to work his way to the top. Eryk knows what it takes to earn a role. His willingness to dig in and learn from every role and experience is what sets Eryk apart from other performers his age,” said Mr. Natoli. “He knows how to pay his dues and when he starts from the bottom again next year in college, he will already be prepared to work himself back up to the top. He has left a lasting legacy with Tech Drama that will last long after he has gone.”

After high school graduation there will be four years of college. He has been accepted to The University of the Arts in Philadelphia for Musical Theatre.

“I actually haven’t made my decision yet. I have a couple more auditions,” Eryk said. “I got into the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. That is one of my first choices. I have auditions at Montclair State University and West Virginia University.”

When not auditioning, on stage performing or directing behind the scenes, Eryk holds down a part-time job as a host at a restaurant in Seaford.

Eryk’s immediate family includes his mother Mollie Bursich, stepfather Michael Bursich, father Alan Bluto, stepmother Lisa Bluto and brothers Damian Bluto and Hunter Bluto.

In this week’s People to Meet spotlight, Eryk Bluto.

Eryk Bluto, a senior at Sussex Tech, had the title role of Pippin in the Tech Drama Club’s recent production.

Your decision to go to Tech?

“My brother had just graduated there, my eighth-grade year he graduated. So, I was like, ‘Let me just go where he went. So, that was basically it.”

“It has been amazing. I have done every show at Sussex Tech for the past four years and every show is so different. The process is so different. Just being with different casts, every show it is so amazing to put on a whole bunch of shows every year — but not even have a theatre. It’s crazy. It’s phenomenal. It just has really been a fun four years. It has taught me so much.”

Any other activities at Tech?

“I am involved in the choir; the choir chamber ensemble which is a small, select ensemble … and National Honor Society. That’s about it.”

You have martial arts training?

“I started martial arts when I was three and stopped my freshman year. I first got interested because my mom was involved with it, so it got passed down to me. I took classes at Sundragon Martial Arts Academy, which was in Laurel. I am a First Dan Black Belt.”

Any special lessons or training?

“I have actually taken voice lessons from my choir teacher, Sara Rose. She has helped me a lot, from my freshman year to now. She has made a phenomenal transition.”

Stage fright: Ever have it?

“All of the time. I have a case of stage-fright every night I go on stage. It’s weird because backstage I am so nervous. But once I get onto to the stage, once a jump through that hoop, it’s a really weird feeling because I go from like almost shaking to being so comfortable on stage.”

Are you your own worst critic?

“All of the time. I watch videos of my auditions and I watch everything that I do. I watch it and I focus on the things that I can do for improvement. It’s not like I am down on myself, it’s just criticism. And it helps — the criticism.”

Your passion for theatre?

“I don’t know. My mom used to sit me down and play like tapes of different cast recordings and stuff. And ever since then I was just enthralled by it. My first show that I saw on Broadway was “Mary Poppins.” I was like, ‘That is what I want to do. That is exactly how I want to live my life.’”

Performance preference?

“It would definitely be musical theatre. I love doing plays, but musical theatre is my entire life.”

Pippin (Eryk Bluto) listens to Berthe, his grandmom (Reina Carder) with Elana Burto, Madelyn Moore and Alexa Griffith.

Talk about hard work rewarded with rejection?

“It is a lot. Just auditioning for colleges now is insane. I go over my material all the time. It is always like for every ‘No’ there are a couple ‘Yeses.’ There are so many ‘noes’ that you really have to be prepared to get rejected and rejected. I mean that is just the business. You have to get used to it. Actually, being in Drama Club and being in shows have given me like a thicker skin. I used to not be able to take criticism, but now that I have done this for the past four years I am great at taking criticism now. It has really helped me a lot.”

What’s your reward?

“I think it’s everything combined. This is one of the most demanding roles vocally and acting that I’ve ever played — Pippin. I get that satisfaction. And we all get the satisfaction of putting this show together for the past few months and seeing where we started to where we have come now. It just puts a smile on all of our faces.”

“The audience’s satisfaction is always a big part of why I do this. I love seeing all the audience members smile and cry and go through all of these emotions as we are going through the emotions on stage. It sounds cheesy, but it does warm my heart a lot to have an audience member come up to me and be like, ‘That was amazing! What you put on that stage is phenomenal.’ It is such an amazing opportunity.”

Do you have a social life?

“Not really. My life is very surrounded by theatre and musical theatre. It is all I do. When I am not doing shows I am working. It’s very rare that I hang out with my friends. I’m always on the go. I try to have as much of a social life as I can but I’m always on the go because of shows that I am in, and rehearsals, and I work. It’s a lot.  But it’s amazing at the same time.”

Anything else in the works?

“I am directing a cabaret at Sussex Tech. It’s a fundraiser for our program, the Drama Club. It’s us singing our faces off. There’s no date yet, but it’s going to be really good.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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