Friday, March 21, 2003 | 8:36 a.m.
Park Place Entertainment built Celine Dion a $95-million showroom, a price tag surpassing the construction of the $70 million "O" theater at the Bellagio more than five years ago.
"When Celine and her husband Rene (Angelil) decided they wanted to have a permanent show at Caesars Palace," said Robert Stewart, senior vice president of corporate communications for Park Place, "our commitment was to create a unique, world-class theater for this show."
Stewart says they succeeded, and their success will put Caesars Palace back at the forefront of the entertainment world, a position that was eroded when the legendary Circus Maximus showroom closed almost three years ago.
"This is the best theater in North America," he said. "It compares with the Kennedy Center (in Washington, D.C.) and with the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles."
Stewart said the stage has the largest high-definition LED screen in North America, at a cost of $6 million.
Since Dion wanted an intimate setting, Stewart said the solution was a round building in the shape of a Roman colosseum, with all seats no more than 120 feet from the stage.
The Colosseum, which is connected to the Caesars Palace casino near the Forum Shops, rises 120 feet to its rotunda and is 256 feet in diameter.
Seating is divided into three tiers: orchestra, first mezzanine and second mezzanine.
The Colosseum has a 22,450-square-foot stage crowned by an enormous proscenium arch. The proscenium measures 120 feet wide by 44 feet tall, one of the largest the world. There are 125,000 watts of amplification for 115 speakers in a surround-sound system.
"We built it with world class audio and acoustics," Stewart said.
The stage features a variety of floor openings that can be used for special effects. Ten stage lifts compose more than 75 percent of the floor.
To accommodate television and film crews, The Colosseum features a warren of troughs for electronic cabling and fiber optic paths for live broadcasts.
Approximately 1,200 dimmers control 1,300 lighting fixtures, 140 of which are motorized; there is a modular technical grid and a motorized rigging system
The huge size of the stage required the development of a microclimate air- conditioning system for better control of ventilation and humidity at the front of the stage -- optimum conditions for a singer.
"There is a humidity bubble that kind of wraps around the stage," Stewart said. "We have created a unique environment, not just for the singing but for images as well."
Other technical systems include four 10,000-lumen projectors and 200 acoustical panels (to control the amplified sound).
The Colosseum required 600,000 man hours to build and used 7,700 pieces of structural steel, 570 tons of rebar, 7,631 cubic yards of concrete and 142 miles of wiring. It will be cooled with 800 tons of air-conditioning equipment.
Concerts West has signed a three-year renewable lease for The Colosseum, where Dion will appear 200 times a year.
Park Place will fill in the calendar with other shows when Dion is off. The first performer to headline at The Colosseum in Dion's absence will be Jerry Seinfeld on May 2-3.
Pavel Brun, artistic director of "A New Day," says the showroom is impressive -- but that the show is not about all of the expensive, fancy equipment. Rather, it is about the art and artistry of the music and the dance.
"They have purchased the tools for the show based on artistic needs," Brun said.
There is no intention to surprise audiences by the quantity and the quality of the technology.
"We have the technology only if it can deliver an emotional message," he said.