UT sophomore climbs theater ranks with support of cast and crew

Katie Keenan

Undergraduate studies sophomore Robert Blum ended his first semester at UT on academic probation, with a 2.0 grade point average and a litany of doubts about his academic future. Without his friends from the Creative Arts + Theatre Committee, his 2.0 wouldn’t have turned into the 4.0 he has today.

Blum is the producer of “Only True Millennials,” the Creative Arts + Theatre Committee’s Spring Musical Revue. “Only True Millennials” is the story of two high-school couples experiencing their teenage years in the early 2000s. Blum began his involvement with the Spring Musical Revue his freshman year and said theater became an outlet for him to connect with people on a deeper level. He said finding meaningful connections with other people was a challenge prior to his involvement with theater, because he suffered from anxiety and has Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s is a condition that causes delays in the development of social skills and communication skills and leads to difficulty with relating to others. 

Blum first got involved with the Creative Arts + Theatre’s productions by doing backstage tech work, and soon found himself trying out for a lead role in Madrigal Dinner.

“I realized the one thing that helped me was that I was acting in the Madrigal Dinner,” Blum said. “They cast me as the king and I fell in love with it. And I realized, you know, maybe there is something to UT. Maybe it isn’t all panic attacks and depression.” 

Blum said involvement in Creative Arts + Theatre made him realize he wasn’t the only college student struggling with anxiety or pressure to succeed.

“This is the thing that really made me confident in myself,” Blum said. “I didn’t know if I could do this, but, in the end, we are doing a great revue — we have the best cast ever.”

Blum said theater provided him with a motivational push and a supportive set of friends. One of those friends is Erin Roberts, the play’s writer and musical director.

“Robert is really one of the most enthusiastic people that I know,” Roberts said. “He got member of the year, last year, for Creative Arts + Theatre. He’s always there, ready to help out, whether he’s in show or on the crew for a show.”  

If a rowdy group of students gets out of hand, or someone’s schedule conflicts with rehearsal times, Roberts said that Blum is the guy she works with. She said Blum has a way of making sure everything runs smoothly.

“[As the producer], you have to be the guy to control the production staff,” Blum said. “It requires getting the word out for auditions, getting the word out for the band [and] making sure people are telling me what’s going on.”  

Sandy Lam, the director of the musical, said Blum is the musical’s biggest fan. No matter what personal challenges Blum may face, in the end, his dedication and contribution to Creative Arts + Theatre is something the cast and crew know they can depend on, he said.

The play runs from Feb. 19–21 at 7 p.m. at the SAC Blackbox Theatre.