Summer is here and that means it’s time for the beach and barbecues. And if you love art – especially the kind with living people in it – then it’s time for one of the greatest performance spectacles around. It is time for the annual Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach.
Held each summer in an open-air canyon theater, the event is something that any lover of art and culture should experience at least once.
Now in its 89th season, the world-renown stage show incredibly recreates and brings to life famous paintings with a group of live, motionless models and beautiful backdrops, set within huge picture frames on a massive outdoor stage, with a professional orchestra, live narration, and sophisticated lighting.
Located in a rustic Laguna Beach canyon, two blocks from the ocean, The Pageant’s 90-minute nightly performances are highlighted by tableaux vivants or living pictures that take the 2,000-seat Irvine Bowl Park stage in the corner of the festival grounds.
The “pictures” are remarkable re-creations of classical and contemporary masterpieces, “painted” with real people, painstakingly made-up with costumes and makeup. The painting are then filled with authentic backdrops and wrapped by giant picture frames. When the curtain is lifted, each 90-second-long picture is accompanied by an orchestra, with an original score; a live narration; and sophisticated lighting.
The title of the 2021 Pageant is “Made in America: Trailblazing Artist and their Stories” and it will give audiences a chance to meet the artists – revolutionaries, innovators, dreamers – who not only made this country their home, but let their creativity be inspired by the freedoms upon which this nation was founded. Through their lives, artworks and voices, a compelling portrait of our artists will come to life with all the theatrical magic that makes the Pageant a one-of-a-kind, must-see summer tradition.
Asked to reveal some of the artists whose stories and works will be included in “Made in America,” Pageant Director Diane Challis Davy shared several, many of them acknowledged masters of American art: Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Norman Rockwell, Daniel Chester French, Luis Jimenez and John Nieto. She continued, “We’re going to ‘flesh out’ and ‘paint’ more detailed portraits of the individual artists. I want to make these artists, regardless of their time periods, REAL and identifiable for the audience.”
Much like this nation, where courageous individuals banded together to change the course of history, the Pageant is also group effort that has defied the odds. Challis Davy and her team of artists and technicians realize the Pageant wouldn’t be possible without its dedicated volunteers who return year after year to take part. Challis Davy offered a final, thoughtful observation: “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure ‘Made in America’ will be full of thrills, amazing and inspirational stories, beautiful music and extraordinary living pictures under the stars.”
The pageant is part of the larger Festival of Arts, a summer-long celebration of art and artists. This year’s festival showcases the works of 140 of Orange County’s best original painters, sculptors, ceramists, jewelers, and photographers. The festival also offers free daily art workshops for the whole family, live Jazz and blues, wine tastings, cooking classes, restaurants and more. In 2017, the Festival of Arts debuted its brand new $10 million facility which features a new layout for the art exhibit area, workshops, gift shop and concert stage. Admission to the festival is $10. For more information, visit: www.LagunaFestivalofArts.org
During my visit to Laguna Beach for the Pageant of the Masters, I stayed at The Inn at Laguna Beach, a boutique, water-front hotel perched on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, with 70 guest rooms, a roof top terrace, swimming pool and a complimentary Wine Hour, held each day between 5pm and 6 pm. For more information on the hotel, call 800 544 4479 or visit: www.innatlagunabeach.comThe 2021 Pageant of the Masters, runs July 7 – September 3, 2021 with performances nightly at 8:30pm. Advance tickets start at $15 per person and are on sale now. A Pageant ticket is also a pass to the 2021 Festival of Arts Fine Art Show, which also runs July 5 – September 3. For more information on tickets, call (949) 494-1145 or visit: www.foapom.com or www.PageantTickets.com.