Unlike her last Las Vegas extravaganza, “A New Day,” Celine Dion’s new show at the Caesars Palace theater, created just for her, is “all about the songs.”
Her previous five-year gig at The Colosseum broke sales records with its wild Cirque du Soleil-style theatrics. This time, after a world tour and the addition of twins Nelson and Eddy, she is returning for three years with a set list of varied tunes backed by a 31-piece orchestra.
With a focus on her five-octave voice and impeccable accompaniment, the 100-minute show, which opened Tuesday, is a delight from start to finish.
She, of course, performs her huge power ballads, beginning with “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” “Because You Loved Me” and “My Heart Will Go On.” But in between, she mixes jazz, pop hits from the 1970s, movie themes, a lullaby, achingly sad songs and a Michael Jackson tribute. To top things off, she had a pre-recorded duet with Stevie Wonder to his “Overjoyed.”
There is not a dull moment in the gorgeous production, created by Dion, husband René Angélil, director Ken Ehrlich and music director Claude “Mego” Lemay. Videos and colorful lighting artfully fill up the stage, as do the musicians, who are poised on a raised platform behind the singer throughout the show.
Amazingly, the seamless pace doesn’t flag even when Dion is offstage changing costumes. At various points, violinist Jean-Séb Carré solos, vocalist Barnev Valsaint and the horn section do a great version of “Spinning Wheel,” and an orchestral score (set against cool graphics reminiscent of a film-title sequence) lead into Dion’s nifty renditions of James Bond themes.
The cello trio — Irina Chirkova, Lindsey Springer and Raymond Sicam III — playing Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” and “Beat It” provide the intro for Dion’s version of “Ben” and “Man in the Mirror.” During this segment, the singer sparkles in a jacket and pants; in the rest of the show, she looks great in a series of elegant gowns.
One of the most fun technical tricks is when Dion, standing in the audience, does a duet with a huge screen version of herself on “How Do You Keep the Music Playing.”
Equally touching are Janis Ian’s classic lament “At Seventeen,” in which she’s accompanied by guitarist André Coutu; the Jacques Brel tune “Ne Me Quitte Pas” (“If You Go Away”); and the crescendo-laden “All By Myself.”
After the concert, Dion described the jazzy “You’ll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)” as the most unexpected tune. But it works well in the classy show, which has enough glitz to warrant its Las Vegas Boulevard address, but also displays a lovely personal touch.
She seems anything but phony as she introduces Billy Joel’s “Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel)” with photos of her family in the background.
That warm feeling emanates from the show’s very first number, when Dion opens with Journey’s “Open Arms.” That welcoming sentiment will undoubtedly continue as Las Vegas’ quintessential headliner continues her royal reign on the strip.
AEG, organizer of Celine Dion’s Caesars Palace show, shares the same owners as Clarity Media, which oversees The San Francisco Examiner.
IF YOU GO
Where: The Colosseum, Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas
When: 7:30 p.m. varied days; tickets through Aug. 14 on sale now; tickets for December and January on sale starting Saturday
Tickets: $55 to $250
Contact: (877) 423-5463, www.ticketmaster.com
DECADES OF DIVA DOMINANCE
200M: Albums Celine Dion has sold
3M: Fans seeing “A New Day”
700: Performances of “A New Day”
31: Musicians in current show
13: Albums performed in French
10: Albums performed in English
5: Career Grammy awards
“My knees were shaking. I was happy to be here, but nervous.” — On her feeling when the curtain went up
“It feels like home; it’s warm. I’m here with my family.” — On her return to Las Vegas
“My last wish before I go out and sing is, ‘This is for my kids — this one is for you.’” — On her daily routine
“He knows music better than I do.” — On 10-year-old son Rene Charles