Songbird tours her new perch

May 28, 2002 4:27 AM

Singing superstar Celine Dion and her entourage last week toured her future home, the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, along with Park Place Entertainment chief Thomas E. Gallagher.

The 4,000-seat Colosseum, an entertainment and event venue, is rapidly rising at the center Strip resort. Dion’s show is scheduled to open in March 2003.

Since Caesars Palace closed its legendary showroom, it hasn’t had a viable show venue.

That will change next spring as Dion will star in a live, stage spectacular that will also feature 70 dancers, musicians, characters and artists.

Under the direction of Franco Dragone (of Cirque du Soleil fame), a team of skilled designers and artists have united to develop the stage spectacular.

The engagement is slated to run for a minimum of three years with 200 performances per year. Tickets, which went on sale last week, are $87.50 to $150.

"When I met Celine and (husband) Rene in Florida nearly two years ago, I felt a certain magic," Dragone said. "A new alchemy was formed that inspired us to develop a partnership to create a show for Celine. Since then, we have been joined by a number of superb partners and together we are pooling our creativity and talents to bring this fabulous project to life."

The production will be directed by Dragone and presented by Concerts West.

"We are excited to team with Caesars Palace, which has a long history of hosting internationally renowned entertainment and events," said John Meglen, Co-CEO of Concerts West. "We are so privileged to be associated with Celine Dion, Rene Angelil and Franco Dragone."

Caesars Palace is also eager to post Dion’s name across its marquee.

THE COLOSSEUM ”” Caesars Palace’s new $95 million event venue will open next March with Celine Dion starring in a new show.

"The opening of the Colosseum next March will begin an exciting new chapter in the legendary story of Caesars Palace, the best known casino resort brand in the world," said Thomas E. Gallagher, Park Place Entertainment president and CEO. "The Palace has a rich history of hosting the world’s most exciting talent. For that reason, it will be the perfect home to what is truly a ”˜Dream Team’ of the performing arts. We’re very pleased that we’re able to accelerate the launch of ticket sales to accommodate all the requests that we’ve been receiving."

The design of Caesars Palace’s new Colosseum was created by Sceno Plus of Montreal, and the project is being built by Perini Construction of Las Vegas.

"Our mandate from Celine was to bring her as close as possible to her fans," said Colosseum designer Patrick Berge, president of Sceno Plus. "The round building was the perfect solution, with the farthest seat only 120 feet from the stage. The distance compares to showrooms that have one-third or one-fourth of the Colosseum’s seating capacity. And the shape also enhances the acoustics, which will be amazing."

Even though Celine Dion’s opening is more than 10 months away, casting has already begun. Rehearsals will start on June 24 in La Louviere, Belgium, where the Dragone company is based.