While Celine Dion, the star who started it all when it comes to the modern Las Vegas residency, is wrapping it up this summer, the theater she’s called her home on the Strip since 2003 will go on. But not in the same way.
The Colosseum at Caesars Palace will be closing down for several weeks this summer for a serious renovation, and when it comes back to life in the fall, it will be operated by Caesars Entertainment in partnership with promoter Live Nation. The two companies collaborate in a similar manner by running and programming Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood.
Since the Colosseum opened with the debut of Dion’s smash A New Day residency, the 4,300-seat venue has been operated by AEG Presents, which also produced and promoted residency shows there by Dion, Elton John, Bette Midler, Cher, Shania Twain and others. In early 2018, Caesars opted not to extend AEG’s management and promoter contract, which expires this year, paving the way for an extension of its Live Nation partnership and creating a natural flashpoint for upgrades at the Colosseum.
“More than anything, it’s about our view of what the venue needed now given the evolution of the market,” says Jason Gastwirth, Caesars’ president of entertainment. “Remember, 15 years ago when Celine started all this, this was unique. Now as we talk about residencies, we’re proud to say this is a universal term everyone in the industry is talking about. So we’re using this opportunity to do all this switchover at one time with the close of Celine’s residency, shutting down over the summer, which is a big commitment on our end but necessary for us to get to that next era.”
Dion’s last show is set for June 8, and the Colosseum calendar currently extends to July 6 with a concert from country residents Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn. After that, the next scheduled show is Rod Stewart on September 18.
Although it has held up well over the years, the Colosseum will get an exhaustive face-lift, including updated bars and lobby space, new upholstery on all the seats and an extensive video, sound and light upgrade. VIP seating in the middle sections of theater will be gussied up and expanded to accommodate greater demand, a trend that started at Zappos Theater.
Perhaps most significantly, the area closest to the stage will be rebuilt so the floor can rise or fall, creating a standing general admission area that won’t obscure sightlines (also like Zappos) or a more luxurious floor seating area. That flexibility will impact which acts are booked for the Colosseum, Gastwirth explains.
“Certain rock bands want to have that seating with the hope people will still stand up, but others won’t even consider [playing there] without that GA,” he says. “Especially if they’re going to make the choice of doing a residency in a more intimate environment, they want to know how the audience will engage. Now they will have more degrees of freedom.”