Celine's influence on Vegas scene can't be overstated

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Celine Dion recently concluded her second residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace after more than 1,000 shows since 2003.
Celine Dion recently concluded her second residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace after more than 1,000 shows since 2003. Photo Credit: Denise Truscello/Getty Images
Paul Szydelko
Paul Szydelko

Put her right up there with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Liberace and Elvis Presley. Celine Dion is no less a transcendent figure in Las Vegas entertainment history.

Dion concluded her second overwhelmingly popular residency June 8 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, an extraordinary 4,300-seat venue built specifically for her. Her success ushered a distinctly new era in which artists at the apex of their popularity have chosen to set up residencies or extended engagements on the Las Vegas Strip.

The French-Canadian superstar's Las Vegas numbers are staggering: Her first residency, "A New Day," spanned 717 shows from March 25, 2003, through Dec. 15, 2007. Her return, "Celine," opened March 15, 2011, and ran for 424 shows. More than 4.5 million fans attended 1,141 performances. Every show of her final run this spring was sold out.

The Colosseum, which replaced the iconic Circus Maximus Showroom, was designed with Dion in mind and was recognized as Billboard's Venue of the Decade, 2000-2009. It has also hosted acclaimed residencies of other luminaries such as Elton John, Bette Midler, Cher and Shania Twain.

The venue will be updated beginning next month to keep it top-of-class. Technical and design upgrades include a new sound system, moving light fixtures and a larger high-definition LED video wall (which will double the resolution of the current 110-foot-by-34-foot wall). An automated lift system that can lower and raise the floor in front of the stage will create different seating and standing spaces.

When it reopens in the early fall, the Colosseum's headliners will include Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Rod Stewart, Journey, Mariah Carey and Sting (May through September 2020). Madonna's Madame X Tour will visit on Nov. 7, 9 and 10.

But the torch that Celine Dion rekindled has been passed far and wide in Las Vegas. The most prominent new venue to open in years is the 5,200-seat Park Theater at Park MGM, which hosts Lady Gaga's two shows. "Enigma" features her pop hits, and "Jazz & Piano" showcases stripped-down versions of her songs.

The Park Theater is also home to Aerosmith, Janet Jackson and Bruno Mars. Britney Spears had scheduled her "Domination" show there, but she suspended her plans because of her father's health.

Christina Aguilera perform at the Zappos Theater at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
Christina Aguilera perform at the Zappos Theater at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Photo Credit: Denise Truscello/Getty Images

Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera perform at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, where Spears and Jennifer Lopez completed long runs.

Among the many heralded extended engagements in Las Vegas: Cardi B at KAOS at the Palms; Lady Antebellum and Billy Idol at the Palm's Pearl Concert Theater; Boys II Men at the Terry Fator Theatre in the Mirage; and Paula Abdul at the Flamingo Las Vegas.

With Sinatra, Liberace and Presley, there was a time when over-the-top productions and revues defined the Las Vegas aesthetic Lido de Paris (Stardust, 1958-1991), Les Folies Bergere (Tropicana, 1959-2009), Jubilee! (Bally's 1981-2016)  and An Evening at La Cage (Riviera, 1985-2009).

Las Vegas dabbled in Broadway for a few years as "Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular," "Jersey Boys" and "Mamma Mia!" enjoyed successful runs.

The magic of Penn & Teller, Mac King, Mat Franco, Criss Angel and David Copperfield endure. Cirque du Soleil's productions ("R.U.N." will open at Luxor in October) have flourished for almost three decades, and electronic dance music continues to draw crowds to nightclubs. But the names of music headliners rule the marquees again, thanks to the triumph of Celine Dion.

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