Cher’s got Vegas, babe, for three years at Caesars

Vegas has nothing on Cher, and Cher likes it that way.

“Las Vegas and I are a very good fit,” says the perennial pop star, who finally can come clean on a long-rumored three-year commitment to play the Colosseum at Caesars Palace starting May 6.

“Las Vegas is way over the top, and the show that I do is way over the top. I feel that it just has to be,” Cher, 61, said in a telephone interview. “I guess you could go on in a black dress (and sing), but oh, I would just want to slit my wrist.”

Instead, Cher will star in another effects-laden showcase that producers hope to sell out 200 times in the next three years, performed in two long stretches each year. The first stint, which runs through May 31, offers four shows per week, leaving room for the singer to add more if she chooses.

Tickets are on sale, with prices before taxes and fees ranging from $95 to $250.

The 4,200-seat theater built for Celine Dion can accommodate elaborate productions for every song and stage effects that weren’t possible even on Cher’s lavish tours, which brought acrobats and an elephant puppet to sports arenas.

Cher calls her new venture “the most different show that has ever been put on there,” with “things I don’t think anyone’s ever done.”

“You can’t give away your surprises,” she said of her cryptic promises. But she did offer a clue: “We’re going to try this thing that I know no one’s ever done before. If we pull it off we’ll be great, and if we don’t we’ll look real stupid.”

Costumes will be designed by Bob Mackie, who has come up with outrageous outfits for the star since her variety-TV days of the 1970s.

“She’s in the timeless category of Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra. She’s like a great wine that only gets better with time,” said John Meglen, co-CEO and president of AEG Live/Concerts West, which will produce the show.

For more than two years, Cher was rumored as the most probable star to succeed Dion and share the Colosseum with Bette Midler, who opens “The Showgirl Must Go On” on Feb. 20.

“We were done with the deal a very long time ago,” Meglen said. “We’ve kind of laughed at the different gossip items that have come up (about the deal collapsing) because nothing has changed at all with us.”

Meglen said part of the delay came from not wanting to announce the deal before Christmas.

“We figured there was too much clutter there. We decided to let everybody get back from the holidays and pick the right time to do it then,” he said, adding that the week of the Grammy Awards seemed “an appropriate time to do it.”

Rumors of a Las Vegas residency were logical after Cher’s “farewell” tour visited the MGM Grand four times from 2002 to 2005. In 2004, Cher’s reported gross was $33.8 million, while Dion grossed $33.1 million at the Colosseum without the travel.

“I almost trashed myself with that 31/2-year farewell tour,” said Cher, who repeatedly has battled the chronic fatigue of the Epstein-Barr virus.

“I’m really happy that I did it and I got a chance to see things that were happening with the economy and the people and the jobs market and all kinds of stuff that you don’t see if you just stay in one place,” she said. “That was great.

“But the reason I wanted to go to Vegas is that I just can’t do that anymore. That tour would have killed a girl half my age, or a third my age.”

Cher is no stranger to the Strip. She first played the Flamingo as Pat Boone’s opening act in 1969, when she and late ex-husband Sonny Bono performed as Sonny & Cher.

The duo played the Sahara during the height of their TV popularity in the ’70s. She went solo after divorcing Bono and frequently played Caesars Palace from 1979 to 1982, before setting her sights on a serious acting career.

Meglen said he isn’t concerned that Cher and Midler will compete for ticket sales by having the same demographic appeal.

“I look more at the middle-America appeal,” he said. “I don’t think we’re at all looking at a gay ticket. I think we’re looking at a universal ticket.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0288.

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