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Rumer Willis Tangos to the Cell Block of Chicago for Her Broadway Debut

The Dancing With the Stars champion survived the scrutiny of America. Now she's ready to take on Broadway.

Broadway may be a new frontier for Rumer Willis — Chicago's newest Roxie Hart — but live performance has become intimately familiar territory. With last season's finale of Dancing With the Stars posting a viewership of over 13 million, Willis has proved her onstage talents under enough watchful eyes to fill over 13,000 Ambassador Theatres. The intensive dance training that earned her a Mirror Ball Trophy is now being invested in her Broadway debut, where classic Fosse choreography will meet some of the ballroom skills she mastered in front of a national audience. Plus, as she shares this career landmark with her father, Bruce Willis (who makes his debut in Misery a few blocks down at the Broadhurst next month), her next professional challenge will be interspersed with some much-needed family time.

Rumer Willis stars as Roxie Hart in Broadway's Chicago through November 1.
(© David Gordon)

You're making your Broadway debut directly on the heels of your Dancing With the Stars win. Do you consider this the next risk you're taking in your career?
I don't know if it's necessarily a risk, but it's definitely out of my comfort zone. I never thought in a million years that I could go and do ballroom dancing, let alone win a show like that, and I feel like I kind of got this bug for challenging myself. I want to keep finding new things and new projects that push me beyond the limits of what I thought I could do because I feel like that's where you find the most growth.

Was there any particular experience that inspired you to take on that attitude?
They came to me and asked me if I wanted to do Dancing With the Stars a couple years ago and the idea seemed crazy to me. And then I was doing a show in L.A., [For the Record], and I felt like I had kind of plateaued with the things that I was learning. Dancing With the Stars came to me again and I thought, "Why not? Why not put myself in this situation? What have I got to lose?" I'm in my late twenties, and I want to be able to say that I've done things and I've tried things rather than just stay status quo.

What excites you about joining the cast of Chicago?
I've always loved Chicago since I was a little kid. I remember going to see it and thinking just how amazing the women looked because it's such a perfect balance of not being overtly sexual but also kind of being a little bit tongue-in-cheek and saucy. I've always been a fan of that. And on top of that, just fantastic dancing, amazing songs, and a really great book. That's why it's been on Broadway so long.

Are you excited to be making your Broadway debut in the same season as your father?
Yeah! And honestly, just to be able to be in the same city and spend more time together. We both have been working so much in the past year that it was actually great for me when my family would all come to [Dancing With the Stars] every week because I got to see them.

Of all the Roxie Harts who have come through Chicago over the past nineteen years, how do you want yours to be remembered?
I got to work with Ann Reinking, which was amazing, and she really wanted to add a lot of the elements that I learned from ballroom dancing. So there's definitely some tango moves in there and some fun lifts that are going to happen. I'm just excited to completely make it my own.

Rumer Willis with her Dancing With the Stars partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
(© American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.)

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