Cabaret Review: Rumer Willis

Rumer Willis photo credit credit David Andrako 2016_04_05_CafeCarlyle_20

This girl is the real deal! Rumer Willis may be the oldest daughter of actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, but to quote the song “God Bless the Child” – of which she sings a rousing rendition – she’s definitely “got her own!” Willis covers a very diverse array of material in her Café Carlyle debut, ranging from Kander & Ebb (she did make her Broadway debut in Chicago, after all) to Wynnonie Harris’s hilarious 1951 r&b shouter “Bloodshot Eyes”, to poppier neo-soul material by the likes of Amy Winehouse and Hozier.

Vocally, Willis resembles journeyman soul ladies of the 1960s like Barbara Lewis and Gloria Jones; not the most towering vocal instrument, but strong, flexible and quite expressive. She’s really good at getting inside the character of a song and acting – no, soulfully living its story.

Her between-song patter is relaxed, but could use some shaping. She shows enough potential that it would be worth the time of one of the masters of cabaret writing/directing – a Scott Wittman or Barry Kleinbort, say – to help her out. Slumming, she isn’t, for sure: Willis and music director James Sampliner have definitely given the evening a great ebb and flow. Never too many ballads together or anything like that.

Whether you like it hot and hard-driving or cool and smooth, Willis does it all with an ease and élan beyond her 27 years. Recommended.

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Written by Jonathan Warman

Jonathan Warman

Jonathan Warman is’s exclusive theatre critic. He also writes regular music and cabaret reviews. Jonathan is also accomplished freelance Stage Director. You can e-mail him at or by clicking on the social networking links below.

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