When Celine Dion performs her landmark show at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, she spends a lot of time standing at the very edge of the stage. Her Las Vegas Strip colleagues generally spend more time dancing around, or in Elton John’s case, seated at the piano. Dion dances a bit, but mostly sings, of course, and after 1,077 shows here, she’s still inching closer to the edge of the stage, reaching out to connect with her audience as deeply as she can.
Her performance is open, earnest and vulnerable, creating an emotional proximity to millions of international fans that have come to see her in Las Vegas. We’ve seen many stars; Celine Dion is easily one of the most influential and impactful performers in the history of the Strip.
It was 15 years ago that she played the Colosseum for the first time, on March 25, 2003. That was A New Day, the original show produced by Franco Dragone and AEG exclusively for the brand new, $95 million theater built by Caesars. It was performed 717 times from 2003 to 2007, bringing in more than $500 million in revenue. The current show, Celine, began in 2011 and has raked in more than $250 million.
Although Dion was the same global superstar when she started her Strip residency—Titanic brought “My Heart Will Go On” to the world in 1997—there was no indication her show would become such a colossal success. She originally signed on for 200 shows per year for three years, and entertainment industry observers thought that was too much—too many shows from one artist, too different from the exclusive, limited-run feel that comes to mind when you think of Vegas icons like Elvis, Sinatra or Liberace.
But the grandness of the show and the venue and Dion’s awe-inspiring performances made it the hottest ticket on the Strip, taught everyone another lesson about international tourism and eventually provided the blueprint for the dominant form of live entertainment in Las Vegas today. Britney Spears (with Live Nation) has been given a lot of credit for modernizing the headliner template, but her success—along with that of the other Zappos and Park Theater residents—is a branch on the tree of Celine.
Staying power doesn’t begin to describe Dion. She jokes about getting “All by Myself” out of the way early in the show so she can relax, even though she makes it look effortless. Her voice sounds just as it did in 1990 when she sings “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” one of her earliest English-language hits. The Titanic theme still closes the show, but the run of songs leading up to the finale are a highlight, paying homage to Prince with “Kiss” and “Purple Rain” before a spirited cover of “River Deep Mountain High” and an emotional take on Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” a song she has favored since husband and manager René Angélil died in 2016.
Dion’s showmanship has evolved as her perseverance has intensified over 15 years. She’s changed the game to be sure, but she’s still here, on the edge of the stage, giving us everything she’s got.
CELINE DION March 27-28, 30-31, April 3-4, 6-7, 10-11, 13-14, 17-18, 7:30 p.m., $95-$500. The Colosseum, 866-227-5938.