Celine Dion’s announcement Wednesday that she is canceling shows through March at Caesars Palace raises the issue of who might replace the Canadian superstar.
The singer, who has performed before more than 3.6 million people at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, said she was canceling for health reasons. She has recently suffered throat inflammation and her husband, Rene Angelil, has been battling cancer.
A cancerous tumor was removed from Angelil's throat in December. It is his second bout with the disease.
Dion, who took the Strip by storm when she arrived in 2003, last performed July 29. Since then, she has been treated by doctors in Los Angeles for an inflammation of her throat muscles.
Robin Leach, a Las Vegas entertainment reporter and TV personality, expressed concern about Angelil, whom he had seen earlier this summer at the World Series of Poker.
“He looked frail," Leach said. "He had lost a tremendous amount of weight and his voice was barely a whisper.”
Speculation is swirling around how entertainment officials at Caesars and concert promoter AEG Live will fill the hole left by the headliner’s departure. In her more than 900 Vegas shows, Dion generated more than $500 million in ticket sales.
“It’s a major, major hole in Strip entertainment,” Leach said. “Trying to replace an act of the power and magnitude of Celine is almost an impossibility. You could count on your fingers the handful of stars that could probably fill the gap for a while.”
An added complication: Singer Shania Twain announced she would leave the Colosseum when her contract expires in December. Twain, along with other big-name stars such as Elton John and Rod Stewart, have performed in the arena during Dion’s breaks.
“That is the next big question, who’s going to fill that void,” Norm Clarke, a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, told me.
“What we’ve seen them (Caesars) doing is bringing in people for shorter runs and I think that might be the next step.”
In an email, a Caesars spokesperson wouldn’t speculate on what act, or acts, might now be added.
“Caesars Entertainment is working with AEG Live on potential other bookings for The Colosseum, but it is too early at this time to comment on any specific possibilities,” she said.
Clarke added: “She [Celine] is still one of the biggest stars on the planet and one of the biggest draws." Without Dion, Las Vegas "is going to be a different town."