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November 16, 2018

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Celine Dion, the tie that binds, makes a resounding return to Caesars Palace

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Steve Marcus

Singer Celine Dion performs during opening night at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on March 15, 2011. The performance is the beginning of a three-year residency at the venue.

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Celine Dion Opening Night

Singer Celine Dion performs during opening night at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on March 15, 2011. The performance is the beginning of a three-year residency at the venue. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Singer Celine Dion performs during opening night at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on March 15, 2011.

Click to enlarge photo

Singer Celine Dion performs during opening night at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on March 15, 2011. The performance is the beginning of a three-year residency at the venue.

You do not need to own any of her music to appreciate Celine Dion.

Being a parent is not a requirement to appreciate her beautiful kids.

You need not play poker for breakfast to enjoy the gambling swashbuckler who is her husband, Rene Angelil.

And you could have seen three powerhouse incarnations of Journey perform “Open Arms” and still come away from a Celine Dion show thinking hers might well be the best.

One show into her return run at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace and Dion is already winning over converts. If the James Bond medley doesn’t wow the crowd, the Michael Jackson combination of “Ben” and “Man in the Mirror” will. You kids like holograms? What about a duet between Dion and an apparition that seems maybe not her evil twin, but a sassier Celine, with the real deal singing to herself from the audience?

“She better stay away from my husband,” Celine the Real says of her computer-generated alter ego.

Or, hey, we can invite a holographic Stevie Wonder to the show, too, and wonder if it matters that the visage of Stevie is singing over a track of his own voice, and if that actually qualifies as actually lip-synching. (Sadly, the hologram effect is tabled for Dion’s booming take of Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself.”)

Dion’s show is a well-balanced, technically sophisticated and brilliantly staged graduation from “A New Day …” which ended her stunning four-year run at the same showroom in 2007. Funny how, after taking in Dion’s slick premiere Tuesday night, the old show suddenly seems a bit dated.

The biggest difference is that Dion, now 43 and with two additions to her family, is not required to scramble across the stage as if she’s a 23-year-old acrobat. She’s matured since she arrived in Vegas eight years ago, and so has her performance.

Singing has always been Dion’s strength. That, and looking great in one of the eight shimmering costumes she dons through her 90-minute showcase. But if you’ve heard that this show is somehow smaller than Dion’s first production, not so. Small would be Garth Brooks in a ball cap, playing an acoustic guitar. No, Dion’s show is enormous, employing a 31-piece orchestra, and a giant white scrim that drops from high above the stage to open the show. It is one of the few elements that reminds of the Franco Dragone-produced “A New Day …”

Up to 11 video panels hang above the stage, showing Dion at various points of her life (and it is encouraging to know that she was not immune to the Regretful Hairstyle Period all teens suffer from). There is smoke, yes, and lasers cutting across the 4,298-seat theater, like what you used to see at a Pink Floyd show. Musicians are seated on mobile platforms, ablaze in colored light, and frequently move to the front of the stage to meet the audience head on.

No more of this silly, slanted-stage stuff from the old show. If that were the case, the musicians would spill into the front row.

Dion is adventurous in the songs she performs, too, not satisfied with busting out her own greatest-hits package. She sings Billy Joel’s “Lullaby (Good Night My Angel)” as home videos of her oldest son, Rene-Charles, play across the stage’s vast video panels. The crowd applauds as RC blows out the candles on his 10th birthday cake, as if watching one of their own come of age.

Energetic takes on Carole King’s “The Reason” and Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” are balanced by a tender version of Janis Ian’s “Seventeen” and a crisp pass on the James Bond staple “Nobody Does It Better (The Spy Who Loved Me).” She performs just enough of her own hits to keep the audience sated, closing with (spoiler alert!) a titanic take of “My Heart Will Go On.”

But musically, the most moving moment was her craning rendition of the Jacques Brel ballad “Ne Me Quitte Pas.” Dion’s is a staggering performance, and though the lyrics are in French, the tears welling in her eyes know no language.

It is another all-inclusive moment, one of many delivered by Las Vegas’ favorite diva.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow Kats With the Dish at twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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