For several days since returning to Las Vegas, superstar singer Celine Dion has been fighting laryngitis. I was reliably told that she has been under doctors’ orders and followed all treatments to rest her vocal chords. She was ready to restart her Colosseum at Caesars Palace engagement with Wednesday night’s sold-out concert, but just two hours before curtain up, she became ill again.
Celine was promptly ordered by her doctors not to perform and to rest to ensure a full recovery so that she can resume performances Saturday. It was the first show she has canceled in four years. Incidentally, Elton John also had to cancel his last performance here over the weekend, for him due to food poisoning.
Country superstar Shania Twain, who had flown in from her Bahamas home to start pre-production for her Colosseum headliner show , was scheduled to watch both stars. Instead, AEG/Concerts West producers used the suddenly empty theater last night for Shania to “walk, dance and sing onstage.”
“That was really cool. We were there until 11 p.m. last night,” I was told. “She wanted to get the feel of the building. She wanted to know where her band and the crew would be hanging out when she comes to town. She saw the dressing rooms and checked the sound system. She’s really excited, and everybody already knows she’s on the right track as the new family is being built around her.”
Shania on Wednesday also checked out chef Wolfgang Puck’s nearby Spago for lunch and enjoyed heirloom tomato Soup, BLT salad (without the bacon) and cookies for dessert. Vegas DeLuxe also has learned exclusively that Shania has tapped Raj Kapoor as director of her Caesars shows as the process begins. The cutting-edge director has worked on the Grammy Awards, “American Idol” and Carrie Underwood’s latest tour. “It’s early on with the concept sketches, but they already have 20 tableaux to pick — 12 from that will wind up becoming the show itself. She wants to showcase all her looks, from country to high fashion to pop and rock,” I was told. Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue, who put together a gallery of Shania’s performance at the Dec. 10, 2003, Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena, when she was onstage with more than 100 children singing “She’s Not Just a Pretty Face.”
Shania, who confirmed her residency to me in an exclusive interview last June, is said to be in great shape and played tennis for two hours with her husband, Frederic Thiebaud, right after their six-hour flight here from the Bahamas. The couple left Las Vegas this morning after seeing the early performance of “O” in the Bellagio on Wednesday night instead of Celine. AEG head honcho John Meglen confirmed: “She’s loving life and is really excited and involved in getting the show ready. She’s having a good time and a lot of fun with it. We think she’ll make two more trips here — and of course time it to see Elton and Celine then! Musical rehearsals will start this summer in the Bahamas, and then in the fall we’ll move into a Las Vegas rehearsal facility. She’ll move into the building in November, and with our load-ins, some preview shows and Lions Den shakedowns.
“We have always felt her music was missing from the Las Vegas entertainment scene. You do have Garth Brooks, and now Shania Twain will serve that segment of the market always visiting Las Vegas.”
Meantime, Celine’s schedule didn’t call for shows tonight and Friday, and now everybody is hoping the break will get her back to full health to resume the schedule Saturday. Fans — several in tears — who received full refunds learned of Celine’s illness as they were filing into the Colosseum.
A reliable source, who revealed the backstage medical drama to me as it was happening, told me: “Celine was brokenhearted and disappointed beyond words. She wanted to disobey the medics and go onstage, but they warned her it could cause far more serious problems if she went against their orders. It’s better that she missed just one night rather than create a worse, ongoing problem of several nights by pushing it before she’s well again.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.