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August 4, 2013

Pageant of the Masters

While I missed out on the Hollywood Bowl this season, I made a point to attend an event I haven't been to for at least ten years--the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach.  At the event, living actors in body paint form tableaus of famous works of art, with narration set to live orchestral music.  My timing was perfect as this year's theme was "The Big Picture."

I'd gone by myself, so I had time to enjoy the town and the scenery.  I'd packed a picnic lunch, but was afraid I wouldn't be allowed in the theater with it (could find no info on their website, for or against) so I found this little spot just outside the entrance to enjoy my fresh figs and sweet-n-sour tofu outside next to a bubbling fountain.  As it turns out, nary an eye batted when I went in with my cooler, so now I know for next time.

Around the Pageant is the juried art festival known as the Festival of Arts.  Admission is free with your pageant ticket, so you can browse at length before or after the event.  There were concessions available on-site, and a green area with limited tables covered by shade sails set up in front of a performing stage.  There was a wonderful jazz/blues vocalist performing with his band who set the perfect relaxed tone for the evening.

Then, the Pageant itself....turns out my high school choir teacher was conducting the orchestra for the performance.  It was a joy to hear the music, apart from the visuals.  I'd used a groupon-like site to get my ticket, so my seat wasn't the best in the house, but it was still fun just to feel the energy of the audience and performers.  Most of the people involved volunteer their time all summer, so it's truly a tradition and an effort of love. 


A hallmark of the Pageant of the Masters is the demonstration of the process of putting together a tableau.  A backdrop is wheeled in as the narrator talks through the scene.  Actors are brought onstage in costume to take their marks, props are added, and a foreground set piece is wheeled in.  Piece by piece, the tableau forms and the stage lights come up to full brightness.  Lo and behold, "A Dash for the Timber" by Frederic Remington stands on stage.

Do you attend the pageant each summer?  What traditions do you hold in conjunction with it--dinner someplace special beforehand, a particular group of people gathering to go?  Please leave a comment on the blog post.

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