If Rumer Willis wanted to hide her singing abilities behind the glamour and celebrity of her famous Hollywood parents, she would never have gone into cabaret. The art form is as intimate and exposed as it gets.
No pyrotechnic laser displays, no razzle-dazzle line of dancers, no giant screens or five-story wall of speakers; just your voice, maybe a trio of accompanists, a couple dozen songs and a cocktail-sipping audience that sits close enough to see you sweat, according to a press release.
But Willis, the 27-year-old daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, has deliberately chosen to show off her talent via cabaret — and for one night only on July 20, the historic Indiana Theatre in Terre Haute will be her personal stage. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.
“Everyone has opportunities and different doors that are opened to them in different ways,” Willis has said of her show-biz upbringing. “In the end, if you’re talented you’ll get work, if you’re not, you won’t, so it doesn’t really matter who you know.”
By any entertainer’s yardstick, Willis has gotten work.
She won season 20 of “Dancing With the Stars.” She received critical acclaim for her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in “Chicago.” She is among a stellar cast, including six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, in the film version of the Broadway musical comedy, “Hello Again,” now in post-production. As for her cabaret career, no less an expert than The New York Times’ critic, Stephen Holden, pronounced her “a natural,” one of a category of singers who “dive into the lyrics and live inside them, without overthinking.”
Willis’ repertoire is as hip and eclectic as her appearance, which includes copious tattoos and a nose ring. Sometimes she wears a slinky black gown with a plunging neckline, other times it may be a demure, cap-sleeved frock that evokes Paris in the ’40s. With accompanying piano, bass and drums, her song selection for the July 20 concert may draw from Winehouse and Apple, as well as tunes made popular by Doris Day, Liza Minnelli and Billie Holiday.
The “Rumer Willis Cabaret Show” is the debut concert of a new series, THSO Presents. But don’t expect scores of classical musicians of the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra in white tie and tails on the stage. THSO Presents exists to showcase smaller musical events and contemporary musical artists, ranging from country-western to cabaret.
THSO Artistic Director and Symphony Conductor David Bowden said the cross-over shows have been a dream of his for some time.
“I personally enjoy all types of music, and I don’t segregate music based on style,” he said. “I think it is possible to love great music in any style.”
With THSO Presents, said Bowden, “we will be featuring a wide variety of styles and artists over time. This is, of course, in addition to our 90-year Terre Haute tradition of presenting an outstanding orchestral concert series, which begins this year on Sept. 24. The mission for the symphony and THSO Presents is the same: ‘Great Music! Close to Home.’”
Tickets for the Rumer Willis Cabaret Show are $20 for general admission, $35 for loge and $50 for VIP cabaret seats at tables on the theater floor. A pre-performance cocktail reception begins at 6:30 p.m. The best way to buy tickets is online at THSO.org/presents or to call 812-242-8476. No tickets will be sold at the Indiana Theatre box office.
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