Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan talk about their upcoming residencies at the new Theatre at Resorts World. "It's time to plan a trip to Vegas with your girlfriends," says Perry.
Las Vegas is going from famine to feast as concerts and live entertainment return after the COVID-19 shutdown forced stages to go dark. A large part of that action will go down starting in November at Resorts World, the new $4 billion casino-resort from Malaysian gaming company Genting, who are bullishly entering the rebounding entertainment market with residencies from four of the biggest names in music: Celine Dion, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Carrie Underwood.
In the 5,000-capacity Theatre at Resorts World, exclusively programmed and operated by Concerts West / AEG Presents, these artists will perform 30 dates, starting with Dion on Nov. 5 and wrapping with Bryan on Feb. 20, 2022.
Kicking off the hit parade, Dion already holds the No. 1 and No. 2 spots for the highest-grossing Las Vegas residencies of all time with "A New Day" and "Celine," which ran at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace from 2003 to 2019. The two shows collectively sold 4.5 million tickets and brought in almost $700 million. Now, Dion will embark on a new era down the block with a new "Celine," and she tells Billboard, taking the stage in Las Vegas always feels like the right thing to do.
"We were supposed to be here for a few months—18 years back. And I'm still here," Dion explains. "Las Vegas has given me an opportunity to explore the stage and to give fans something that cannot be done on the road. We have 50 dancers on stage and the biggest crane and the big orchestra."
Now, Dion is returning after the COVID-19 pandemic left her no choice but to take off work for the first time in 30 years.
"I went back home to Quebec and I spent the summer and fall and a part of the winter there," she says. "It was wonderful just to live outdoors, cuddling with the kids, watching movies, making popcorn and cooking at the house—not having to wear anything in my hair. I don't have to have color my hair. No manicure, no pedicure. I'm doing my own nails. I'm doing my own ponytails. It was amazing. It was a good time to reflect and to realize that when life starts again, you will not take things for granted."
The new multi-level venue was designed by Scéno Plus and will boast Las Vegas’s largest and tallest performance stage with the furthest seat only 150 feet from the stage. It also gives Dion a world of possibilities in terms of sound, lighting and technology — amenities her team heavily vetted.
Dion, who has maintained a home in Las Vegas since the beginning of her tenure, will open the first date with a COVID-19 relief benefit.
"When you have a residency, you can do different things. And as an artist, it's an amazing privilege," she says. "And then to go home to my kids, because I love to be a mom, and it's my most important job. It makes me super happy. Happy mom, happy artist, happy artist, happy mom."
One thing that will undoubtedly make Dion’s devoted fans jump for joy will be the incredible ensemble of couture wardrobe she will wear during this outing. Her performances have become known for their showcase of top designs by the likes of Dior, Balenciaga and Cavalli. So who is her designer du jour? A few crucial decisions must be made first.
"Right now we're still tweaking the songs and until we have a pacing we won’t know," she says. "The wardrobe is important for the song because the hair, the makeup, the light, the sound—everything is one, everything is important."
While Dion is a tough act to follow, Las Vegas newcomer Carrie Underwood is up for the challenge during a six-show run beginning Wednesday, Dec. 1. With more than 64 million records sold worldwide and 27 No. 1 singles, the multi-hyphenate star of stage, screen, television and brands, is exactly the type of performer that makes a strong candidate for a residency.
"I'm at the point in my career, where we've done a whole lot of tours and shows that I'm extremely proud of. And I feel like I'm at a place where I want to take the best, most exciting parts of those shows and the things I’ve learned and bring them to Vegas," Underwood says.
In taking the stage of the Theatre at Resorts World, Underwood hopes to channel the grandeur of some of the greatest places she has played like the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
"I'll inevitably bring that with me even though it's a completely different kind of stage and that's something that I love," she says. "We can go to these theaters that have roots in history. Then we can go to these brand-new theaters with all the bells and whistles, and we can we can rock. I'm lucky I get to do both."
And while she hasn’t been in the theater yet, Underwood has been receiving pictures and frequent updates. "I’m getting antsy," she admits.
For years, rumors have swirled about a Katy Perry residency—with a song about the city, "Waking Up In Vegas," that is a no brainer. Perry’s "Play" takes the stage on Wednesday, Dec. 29, launching an eight-show run, which includes the coveted New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day spots. Her rabid fan base, who have helped racked up a cumulative 50 billion streams alongside worldwide sales of over 48 million adjusted albums and 135 million tracks, will ensure these first dates are an immediate sell out.
Perry tells Billboard, "Pre-pandemic, I was in negotiations to do this show, and then everything shut down. And I was like, holy crap, 'I'm having a baby.' Then my next show back, is going to be this run, which I'm very excited about. It seems like the timing worked out because by New Years, everybody will be ready. I think we're all ready to play."
Las Vegas plans have never felt far away for the singer—in fact the city has been more than just a narrative, it has been a legacy.
"’Waking Up in Vegas’ was one of the first songs I wrote when I came to L.A. and it will definitely be a theme in Play. I guess I laid the foundation long ago," she says. "My grandma was a seamstress for all the showgirls in Las Vegas. She would sew these little pockets into their bikinis for their wedding bands or jewelry, so they wouldn’t get stolen backstage. My aunt was a topless showgirl in the Folies Bergère for a long time until she turned into an ordained minister. I'm not going to be topless, but let's just say, Vegas is in my blood."
She hopes the residency will be as its name suggests playful, and filled with humor and bold visuals, a break for fans from the chaotic and intense times of the past year.
"There has been a lot of isolation. And, I think a sense of playfulness, lightness and levity would do our spirits good. It's time to plan a trip to Vegas with your girlfriends," she says.
Also expect some of the experiential bonuses, for which Perry is known.
"There may be a moment where you hear it, see it, smell it, taste it. And that's the whole sensory experience," she says. "Gen Z doesn't really care to gamble but what they really want is experiences, everybody wants an interactive element. And there's always going to be an interactive moment in my show."
Perry’s American Idol co-judge, Luke Bryan, will keep the party going into 2022 when he debuts a six-show engagement beginning on Friday, Feb. 11. He reveals to Billboard that it all started with a call from Resorts World President Scott Sibella.
"We first met at MGM Grand, when he was president and I was hosting the ACM Awards and we developed a relationship and then played a little golf," Bryan says. "[When he landed at Resorts World], Scott reached and was checking my temperature [on a residency] and we kept talking it out and it started to seem like an interesting thing," he says, noting that Sibella wooed with the immersive audio experience, which will blast through more than 265 L-Acoustics speakers powered by L-ISA hyperreal technology. "Vegas is a party town and my music is about having fun having and letting loose."
Another thing Las Vegas is synonymous with is not lost on Bryan—Elvis.
"I grew up as a kid listening to Elvis at the Las Vegas Hilton. It's pretty cool for me to have my own thing going on." He also hopes to take fans on a musical journey that he can’t do in his larger arena shows.
"I want everybody to say 'we've never seen Luke perform in that type of environment,’ and leave fans with a unique experience," he says.
In what will assuredly be another hit in his history-making career, which earned him the accolade of Billboard’s Top Country Artist of the 2010s with 26 No. 1 hits, Bryan says his turn will feed off the others on the marquee.
"If you are sharing the same stage with Celine Dion, everybody has got to bring their A game," he says. "It's not a competition, but it's about quality. And you can guarantee Carrie Underwood is going to bring it every night, and so will Katy Perry."