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August 27, 2014

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Celine Dion’s return to Colosseum a boon to Las Vegas musicians

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

On a video tape, Celine Dion says good bye to Bette Midler during the final show of “The Showgirl Must Go On” at Caesars Palace Sunday, January 31, 2010.

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A still from Celine Dion's new movie Celine: Through the Eyes of the World.

We might miss all those Spandex-fashioned dancers prancing across a vast, sloped stage, but Celine Dion's plans for her return to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace is beautiful music for an important Las Vegas faction: Local musicians.

Dion's orchestra, 31 players in all, will be populated by local musicians who are members in good standing of the Musicians Union of Las Vegas Local 369.

"They will all be local musicians. This is fantastic news," Las Vegas Musicians Union President Frank Leone said during a phone conversation Wednesday. "We are thrilled and delighted. She will have the best and happiest accompaniment she can possible have."

Shows begin March 15, 2011. Dion reportedly is performing 70 shows a year for three years. Ticket prices approximate the rates for "A New Day ..." from $55 to $250 before the half-tax, sur-tax and over-tax is added. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at the Caesars box office and through Ticketmaster.

Specific plans for Dion's show are not nearly finalized, but Wednesday she said in a news release and also told Oprah Winfrey that the production would focus on her (Dion's) hits and classic tunes pulled from film scores. There might well be a few backup performers, singers and/or dancers. But the orchestra, not a sea of dancers, will drive the show.

"It will be much more a concert setting. I don't have total information about it, but it's going to be a real thrilling concert setting," Leone said. "It will be first-class. As far as the forces that are being used, it will be extraordinary."

There are no plans to alter the stage — again — after it was flattened from its graded design for Dion's "A New Day ..." production. The stage's slope was to allow better visibility of the production throughout the theater, which was a benefit to those in the audience, but performers complained about the wear and tear the slant caused to dancers' legs. There might well be an upgrade to the LED screen setup behind the stage, too, to allow for a more updated visual component to the show.

AEG Live Las Vegas Vice President John Nelson said the company is still seeking a headliner to supplement the Colosseum's schedule after Bette Midler played out her run last month. Neil Diamond is one name that has surfaced (read Ubiquitous Robin's account of that possibility).

"He'd be an amazing attraction to Las Vegas," Nelson said in an interview Wednesday, speaking of Diamond. "He's been at the top of our list since before the Colosseum was even built."

But Nelson said the company is not close to announcing anyone new to the theater. He did, however, knock back recent reports that wound around gossip blogs and Web sites over the past few days that Barbra Streisand was offered, and turned back, $100 million to return to Vegas — the implication being that she would set up at the Colosseum, Celine-style. As he said, "We haven't engaged with Barbra in any way to perform at Caesars."

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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