Never thought it would happen, could happen. I actually gave up not too long ago. She sees the sick, she sees the celebrities, she sees the executives but not people like me. Especially, not people like me.
I am a Celine Dion impersonator and last night I not only met Celine Dion, I was along for the VIP Ride that journalists and media get to experience, all thanks to Robin Leach, my friend.
Robin Leach is a celebrity journalist and tv star best known for his TV show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. He is now the Las Vegas entertainment “go to” guy for pretty much everything and also happens to be a friend of mine who has covered many of the shows I have performed in. I am a fan of his and surprisingly, he is also a fan of mine.
So imagine my surprise when he contacted me and asked me if I would like to accompany him as part of the press/Vip group to Celine’s opening night? He decided that not only would he cover Celine but he could also infuse my job as a Celine impersonator and Legends in Concert into the story!
What to wear? What to wear? I chose a pretty little classy black dress with swarovski trim, threw on my makeup and with my heart in my throat, I took off to the great coliseum!
I was instructed to meet Robin at the stairs by the coliseum at 5 pm sharp. There wer so many journalists and what seemed to be an infinite amounts of cameras everywhere! People magazine was there, Okay and In touch just to name a few. The buzz was electric. Celine definitely has her fans in the media and press too!
We started the night off with Robin and his photographer grabbing some pro shots of me standing next to the Celine sign.
Next, we were lead into the coliseum for the press conference and down to the front row. Robin pointed at the front right aisle seat and said “You sit here,” and then playfully said, “Do you think you are close enough?”, and then took his seat next to me in the left aisle seat with the rest of the journalists.
(Stage hand doing lighting before Celine comes out)
Celine was a few minutes late but was finally introduced and she came out in a beautiful black and white polka dotted dress.
You can see the full press conference here.
The journalists were not going to step around the Renee issue. As Robin said last night, unfortunately, for right now the Renee health issue is bigger than the “Celine as Celine” story. I felt for her deeply as she had to answer question after question about Renee and how she was dealing with his imminent dying, knowing he was going to be gone etc. I watched her dance around these brutal questions with dignity, grace and as much of a positive outlook as she could have.
In so many words, she stated that she didn’t know how she was going to make it through the night but that she was willing to try, and if she stumbled and failed, that she knew the love from her fans and her love for her family would help her get back up and keep her going.
I caught myself subconsciously placing my hand over my heart a few times as if to grab it so it wouldn’t break, when she was answering some particularly difficult questions. I wondered if she would just break down at any moment but she really held it together!
One thing that really stood out to me was that she professed that all of the songs she has been singing for all of these years , now have such a higher sense of meaning and feel so much more powerful to her when she sings them. She said that she had never felt so strongly about the words that she has sung until Renee got sick and now every single note has so much more symbolization and significance!
At one point, she asked us to turn around and wave to Renee, who was watching her through a live feed in his Las Vegas home. So we all turned around and waved and I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that all of our hearts were breaking a little bit at that moment. Sad to say, he could not make it out for her performance last night.
After the conference, we went back out into the casino where Robin did an interview for a Tv show.
He then surprised me by telling me we were going to Spagos for Champagne and dinner! Sounded good to me! And can I just say, this man knows everyone! It was nice to see how respected he is by the entertainment community. He is a very smart man with a vast knowledge of his field! And you can tell he loves what he does also.
Out comes the champagne! Out comes the caviar and smoked salmon pizza! Out comes the lobster salad. We had approximately 20 minutes to eat all of this gourmet food and we did not have a problem at least attempting it! Before we left, one of the heads of AEG came over to our table to say hello and it was interesting to hear he and Robin talking about some entertainment business while I tried to at least finish the lobster salad that was beckoning to me from its little plate.
We had a short amount of time so we were back to the coliseum in 20 minutes.
Once inside, we ran into Veronic, the woman impressionist who Celine and Renee produced over at Bally’s this last five years. I was excited when she remembered me from backstage at her show last year because being the ham that I am, I had sang a few Celine notes for her when Derrick Barry ( world famous male Britney impersonator) told her my crazy job of being a Celine tribute artist.
Finally the time is here! Celine! She comes out in front of the big curtain and opens with “I surrender”. When she comes to the big chorus, the HUGE white curtain drops to reveal the 30 piece orchestra, band and background singers and of course people went loco, including me. She did begin to break down and cry during a portion of the song and I knew if she lost it, I was going to lose it and I did. (Those good ole empath traits!).
I told Robin as long as she was fine, I was fine but if she cried, I would cry. And that is pretty much how the whole night played out. Poor Robin, LOL!
After doing a few more songs (I helped Robin write down the set list and I can get that), an acoustic portion in front of the big curtain turned into somewhat of a challenging moment for Celine when one of her guitarists began playing and was incredibly out of tune. Realizing his problem, he walked off the stage leaving Celine and three other band members sitting there with absolutely nothing to do except improv. And improv is what she did. She had everyone in stitches singing “Tune is in the heart” to “Groove is in the heart” and “Everybody tune now” to “Everybody dance now”. Finally the guitarist came back out with his acoustic guitar and they ran through some tunes like “I’m alive” and “That’s the way it is”. A very intimate moment for a very HUGE venue and audience and it was just what people wanted to see and hear.
There was also a portion where the brass came out playing a jazzy swing number and they walked through the audience, much to the audiences delight!
A few of her costumes that I can remember consisted of one very flowing, chiffon style, canary yellow gown with a delicate, sweeping matching shawl draped across her back and shoulders. She wore the same gown from her last show for Titanic which is a strapless blue number and then my fave, this incredibly sparkly intense green metallic fringe piece that made me immediately want to call my wardrobe designers and tell them, “We have a new project!”. It is my fave outfit I have ever seen her wear and I cannot wait to have it made! Just STUNNING!
Not intending to blog or try to get a bunch of photos last night and more intent on just being in the moment, I don’t really have much more than these few photos to include in the blog so I went online and found some more for you!
As far as Celine and her mood for the evening, she wasn’t one to deny the one situation that was on everyone’s minds last night, Renee. She thanked the audience many times over about never leaving her side through all of the tough times and spoke openly and honestly about Renee’s battle and how they were all trying to deal with it as a family. It was a poignant concert full of laughter, love and tears.
After the show we were escorted downstairs where Robin and I took up a little spot in the back and kept ourselves entertained by talking about how the night went and other entertainment topics. At this point I was exhausted from all the emotion and couldn’t stop laughing and it was apparently contagious because Robin and I sat there in a fit of giggles for 20 minutes waiting for Celine to appear.
Not too soon after, Celine walked in and took her place in front of the cameras so she could do her meet and greet. They waited until Celine could spend a little extra time with Robin (and fortunately me) and then we approached her. By some miracle, Robin was off talking to one of the camera guys for a second so I was just there alone with her and realized, if I don’t take this opportunity, I might never have it again. I looked her in the eyes and said “Celine, I am a Celine tribute artist across the street at Legends in concert.” With an amused look in her eyes she said “Oh really?” and I said “Yes, I am a professional and tour the world well…… as YOU! You should come see us across the street sometime!” Oh yes I did! LOL! She then stepped back and gave my entire body a look scanning me from my toes and back up to my head again, giggled and said “Wow.. you are kinda tall for me aren’t you?” and I said “Well, yeah in these shoes I am!” and then she looked me in the eyes and said “Well I hope I can keep inspiring you to do what you love!”
Robin then approached and began interviewing her for a few moments while we were standing there and after they finished talking, we did some photos. His question and her answer will be included in his article.
As our conversation came to a close, she said something about barely making it through the night and she blew out a deep breath. I looked at her, from my heart to hers, touched her on the arm and said “You got this, baby girl.” She looked me right in the eyes, smiled painfully as if to say “Do I?” and I repeated it again “You got this”. “Thank you” she sighed and as we walked away, I stole one more glance at the beautiful woman that has made this past 10 years of my life one incredible journey after another.
I will be praying for you Celine.