Monday, July 26, 2010

Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach

This is the summer of the Staycation.  Finances are tight so I'm doing day trips around Southern California for our family summer fun.  One of the events I've been waiting years to do with my son is Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach.  It sounds strange to describe on paper, but it's magical to witness first hand.  Originally entitled The Living Pictures in 1932, the tableaus were created by vaudevillain Lolita Perine for the Laguna Festivals of Arts.  She dressed local residents in costumes and seated them behind a makeshift frame, creating a life size tableau.  The models within the frame would freeze in their tableau, fascinating viewers of all ages.

It was the summer of 1983 when I became a volunteer model at the pageant. I worked at the famous La Brisas restaurant on the cliffs of Laguna, overlooking the Pacific during the day and would perform in the pageant each night.  It was the 50th anniversary of the pageant and my painting was entitled Empress Eugenie and the Ladies of her Court. I've looked all over for the actual slide of our tableau. It's somewhere in my garage full of memorabilia and I'm sure it will turn up someday.  Here's a look at the painting we honored:
(I portrayed the lady-in-waiting in the blue gown touching the flowers)

Many years have passed and now I'm attending the pageant once more; not as a model, but as an audience member thrilled to be sharing this live art experience with my son. We had dinner at my old haunt, Las Brisas, then took the free trolly to the pageant entrance.

My son's a bit of an artist (he creates his own comic books) so I basked in the glow of his persuing the children' artwork gracing the festival courtyard.

 The secret here is to save your POM ticket.  It will gain you admittance to the festival courtyard all summer long for viewing the artwork and listening to the concerts on the grass. Bring your picnic basket of wine and cheese, lawn chairs and enjoy.

We had a few minutes before the lights went down.  I snapped a photo of the amphitheatre as we were sitting down and an usher immediately came and informed me that photography in the amphitheater was forbidden (Perhaps they don't want people to know about all the ghosts haunting the grounds.  Look closely at the photo...see the orbs? Ghost hunters say these are supernatural energies.  With so much history on these grounds, it makes sense for lost souls to dwell in such a magical place).

The lights go down and the audience settles under the open air.  Music and stars fill the night as the Narrator weaves a spell of the year's theme: Eat, Drink & Be Merry.  My son was mesmerized as paintings, tapestries and sculptures were revealed under the evening stars. I hope he remembers this night forever. I know I will.  

Pageant of the Masters - where art comes to life is an internationally acclaimed 'living pictures' production that combines the worlds of theater and art. Under the guidance of an experienced and talented staff, volunteers are magically transformed into life-sized re-creations of classical and contemporary painting, sculptures and other works of art.  Presentations are accompanied by the music of a full orchestra and live narration in a beautiful starlit amphitheater in Laguna Beach. Eat, Drink & Be Merry, the 2010 Pageant of the Masters will devote its uniquely theatrical celebration of the art of tableaux vivants to share that sense of exuberant joy reflected in breathtaking re-creations of inspirational artworks.  Performances are held nightly at 8:30 p.m. through August 31, 2010. Tickets for Pageant of the Masters are $15-$100.  Pageant of the Masters ticket holders can present their stub at The Festival of Arts front gate for free admission all summer long. For general information, call 949-494-1145 or visit the website at  The event is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA.  Proceeds support the arts and art education in and about Laguna Beach.

1 comment:

  1. Pageant of the Masters is one of the coolest things I've seen. And I'm always forgetting that some dates sell-out six months earlier!