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‘I am an open book’: Rejuvenated Celine Dion sets November relaunch

Updated May 12, 2021 - 6:12 pm

Two decades ago, Celine Dion prepared for the next phase of her career in Las Vegas. The show would be groundbreaking, a production that would change the trajectory of superstar residencies on the Strip. “A New Day …” it was called.

Dion exceeded even the loftiest expectations, naturally, performing two residency productions over a 16-year run, a total of 1,141 shows for 4.5 million fans before closing in June 2019. But Dion did not consider moving out of her adopted home town. What’s next for her? Once more, a new day at the 5,000-seat Theatre at Resorts World.

Recharged after a long pandemic pause, Dion’s self-titled production opens its initial 10-show run Nov. 5-6, continuing Nov. 9-10, 12-13 and 19-20. Dubbed simply “Celine,” the show leads the quartet of superstar headliners, followed by Carrie Underwood’s “Reflection” (Dec. 1, 3-4, 8, 10-11), Katy Perry’s “Play,” and Luke Bryan’s “Vegas” Feb. 11-12, 16, 18, 19, 20. Tickets for all shows are on sale at 10 a.m. May 24 at AXS.com.

Dion spoke of the return to residency during a phone chat Friday afternoon. Highlights:

She remains mystified as to why fans flock to her shows. “I’ve been wondering for many, many years actually why do they come to see me? Why do they like me?” Dion said. “Why do they insist on coming. What the heck is happening? What is this? I mean, I’m trying to understand why, I am. I don’t know. Most of the time, I’m like there must be something … OK, it’s the songs, but, is it my jokes? Is it my face, is it my personality, is it my dress? My shoes? What is it?”

Expect a personal connection, with storytelling and home videos, in the new show. “We’re going to have personal content in the show,” Dion said. “I hope I’m not wrong, but that’s my feeling, is that they want what I share with them. I am like an open book, for example, sharing my happy moments, and my sad moments, and my struggles. It feels to me that when I sing a song, is they know me beyond the songs, and I like that. I like that when I sing a song, they come for more than a record.”

She feels “stronger” today than she did when she opened at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. “I feel super, super positive, because, I mean, the odds were against when we started that show. I actually remember when they said the Titanic was about to sink again,” Dion said. “I’m glad it didn’t sink, and you know what? Now I feel stronger, because we’ve been there. We’ve been there a couple of times and we know it works.”

She is developing a show for a venue she has not yet personally toured. Dion has reviewed digital renderings of The Theatre, and is set to step inside the first time “in a month or two prior to the performance itself, we’ll be there practicing and rehearsing.”

She does have a deep appreciation for the Theatre at Resorts World, designed by Scéno Plus, which also conceived The Colosseum. “This project is just phenomenal, and the fact that the theater is 5,000 seats — they’re building it and really taking care of the seats, the environment, and not just the look, but the sound, because music will be performed there. Every room is an instrument, and it’s very, very important to not just build a place, but to respect that this place will resonate and will live, and music will live through this theater. It is state-of-the-art; we got the best out there today.”

She spent her pandemic downtime studying and performing ballet. Dion’s lithe appearance was a topic in celebrity news during COVID, and even the weeks before the shutdown. She has been dancing and performing movements at her Las Vegas home, inspired by watching Nevada Ballet Theatre performances. “I didn’t want to go to the gym, that’s for sure. I didn’t need to because I don’t need to but, at one point I’m like, eh, what about my heart? Should I do something about my health?” she said. “It’s just like, for me I was not doing this to achieve anything to do anything, but I just started to stretch and I went to see NBT and I was very interested in their approach. I’ve always said that I sing with all my body because when we sing, it’s the whole body that’s involved and I wanted to stretch for more flexibility just for myself, and then I started to be flexible and I’ve never been flexible all my life. I started to be totally addicted to stretching, ballet, and just improv, and it got me to be super fit, super happy … I’m not doing anything to impress, but just to impress me.”

She expects to have a full orchestra at Resorts World. The question originally was, “Are you going to have a full orchestra?” And Dion said, “How many people do you think is a full orchestra?” “Sixteen or above, and more than one string player.” “We’ll have a full orchestra, probably, yeah.”

She is fine sharing the Resorts World promotional commercial with her fellow headliners. I just had to change my shoes, and buy another shirt,” she said with a laugh. “No, I just want to make sure that I please the fans. For me, it doesn’t matter … it matters only when I said to you that we went there to Resorts World because it’s the best of the best right now.”

She has enjoyed pinball, and so has the family. “Actually, we do have — not in the house right now, but I have to make space for that — I think two or three pinball machines. They’re super cool, yeah. We love that.

She is trying to relax the pressure of being the first headliner at the hotel to perform after COVID. As she said, “I’ll remember to go to bed with this quote, tonight let’s wish the best for all of us here.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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