VCU Student Joins Cast of Westmoreland Players

News Release – July 19, 2018

The Fortune Hunters cast enjoys a break from rehearsal. Pictured are (from top to bottom) Dawn Brooks, Carolyn Reiner, Deanna Lavery, Chad Lewis and VCU acting student T.J. Ruth

The Westmoreland Players top off the great 2017-2018 season with The Fortune Hunters, a comedy written by co-director Joy Evans. It’s a world premier of an adaptation of a three-hundred-year-old play, The Beaux’ Stratagem by George Farquhar.

But make no mistake about it, there is nothing stuffy in this period romp. The 18th century collides with the 21st as the playwright blends the old and the new.

Heading the cast of 21 actors are a scheming, yet oh-so-charming, dynamic duo. Accomplished leading man, and Player‘s favorite, Chad Lewis, teams up with Timothy Ruth (TJ), a VCU theatre student.

Thanks to the generosity of devoted theatre patrons Bill and Mary Small, TJ’s internship was made a reality. Ms. Small, a previous VCU arts major, wanted to bridge the gap with a creative link to her alma mater.

From the moment the Evanses auditioned TJ, they knew his great personality and theatrical talent would be a win/win for their show. Never mind the fact that he was already an experienced fencer! (Audiences will marvel at the great sword fight when our heroes come face to face with the rascally highwaymen.)

TJ, a mere twenty-one, is a military brat born in Iceland. The enthusiastic acting student, now a college senior in the VCU theatre department, currently resides in Chesapeake, VA while attending classes.

“I started doing theatre when I was a freshman in high school. My friend heard that I could sing so I went and auditioned for Willy Wonka and was cast as the father.”

“I always knew that performing was going to be my life. After I graduate, I plan on taking my talents down to Atlanta, GA, to broaden my horizons.“

“All art is meant to inspire people. That’s the reason I chose theatre,” says TJ . “Theatre gives me the outlet to inspire people the way that I’ve been inspired by everyone that came before me. I want to do theatre that means something to people, gives a message and starts a conversation as well as entertains. That’s what I love to do.”

When asked who inspired him, TJ was quick to respond. “Christina Aguilera! I’ve been a fan because of her talent and her willingness to stay ahead of the curve and send a message to all types of people. This is truly what I see myself doing for the rest of my life!”

The Evanses have already found TJ to be a hardworking, dedicated student. His willingness to alter his summer plans, commute from Richmond and jump at the chance to build his theatrical resume said a lot about his commitment. As most aspiring actors, he has set his sites on challenging career goals.

“Film, television, music, and fashion. I want to be on the levels of Usher, Denzel Washington, and Beyoncé.“

“Aim high and strive for greatness,” the Evanses always tell their casts. TJ is indeed a young man with a big dream. “My dream role is Jimmy Early in the musical Dream Girls!”

Join the many talented performers who will hit the Player’s stage on August 4-19. The Fortune Hunters will prove to be an exciting show you won’t want to miss!



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