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‘She’s going to be back on stage’: Kotb confident of Dion’s return

Hoda Kotb has all but confirmed Celine Dion’s return to the stage. The NBC broadcaster gleaned this information in a sit-down with the superstar for an hourlong special “Celine’s Story,” which airs at 10 p.m. Tuesday.

During an appearance with “Today” co-hosts Sarah Guthrie and Craig Melvin, Kotb relayed a moment with Dion after their lengthy interview session last month in Las Vegas.

Kotb fell just short of wresting details from the superstar. But was clearly confident we will see Dion perform again.

“She’s going to be back on stage,” Kotb said during her “Today” segment. “I asked her when, and she yelled to her manager, ‘Can I tell Hoda when I can be on stage?’ And he said no.”

But Kotb continued, “So we know that there is a date upcoming.”

The next frontier is the “when” of it all.

AEG Presents executive John Nelson has served as Dion’s manager through much of her recovery. AEG holds the exclusive booking agreement with Resorts World Theatre, where Dion would headline upon her return.

Kotb’s conversation with Dion marks the first confirmation from the superstar that she has a specific plan to be back on stage.

Messages to Nelson and AEG Presents reps for details have not been returned. Reps have previously said only that they are optimistic for Dion to resume her residency plans.

Also disclosed during the interview, and in the upcoming “Celine Dion: I Am” documentary, the 56-year-old entertainment icon’s battle with what would be diagnosed as Stiff Person Syndrome dates 16 years.

This period covers her first residency at Caesars Palace, with Dion first experiencing physical limitations in the summer of 2008 while in Germany during her “Taking Chances” world tour. At that time, her throat constricted and cut off her ability to sing the high notes.

“I said, to my assistants and my people, I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I can do the show, I don’t know what’s happening,’ and I was very, very, very scared,” Dion said. “And then you panic, and the more you panic, the more you spasm, and the more you spasm, the more you panic. I went on stage and started to sound more nasal.”

Dion said she “lowered the songs, a little bit, the keys,” and sang “‘Cuz I’m your lady, and you are my maaaan,” to demonstrate.

While fans praised Dion’s performances and appearance, she said, “I did not know what to say. Everybody said, ‘You look pristine,’ but I was not controlling myself anymore, and I want to be controlling.”

In retrospect, Dion said she should have pulled off the stage long before her June 2019 finale at the Colosseum, where she performed some 1,141 shows in her two residencies dating back to 2003. She was not only busy with performance, but caring for her husband, René Angélil, who died of throat cancer in 2016.

“We did not know what was going on … I should have stopped, to take the time to figure it out,” Dion said. “My husband was fighting for his own life. I had to raise my kids. I had to hide. I had to try to be a hero, while feeling my body leaving me and holding on to my own dreams.”

It was time for Dion to come forward and explain what was really happening.

“Lying for me was a burden, it was too much to bear, lying to the people who got me where I am today,” Dion said. “I could not do it anymore.”

Dion has worked through extensive physical therapy and vocal rehabilitation, along with medication, to combat a condition for which there is no cure.

She said that SPS, as it has become known, “Didn’t take anything away from me.”

“I’m gonna go back on stage,” she said, “even if I have to crawl, even if I have to talk with my hands, I will. I am Celine Dion.”

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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