of the press were invited to attend a special sneak preview of the 2012 Festival
of Arts and Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. One of my favorite California cities, I had
driven past the site of the annual festival countless times on my way to the
picturesque downtown, or beautiful beaches of Laguna. Until coverage of this event, however, I had
never personally attended, in spite of the rave reviews and descriptions I have
received through the years from friends and family who have. I had been told about live actors being
placed in replicated sculpted and/or painted works of art, creating a 3-D illusion. I was eager to experience such a unique
display first hand.
Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters are two separate events that have
run simultaneously since 1933, with the exception of a four-year break during
Festival of Arts showcases the works of local juried artists. The Pageant of the Masters is indisputably the
crowning jewel of the festival. Through
the illusion of tableaux vivants, or
living pictures, art is quite literally brought to life through the genius
of many artists and volunteers.
fact, The Genius is the theme for the 2012 Pageant of the Masters. The Genius was crafted through the
vision of Director Diane Challis Davy.
She wanted an alternate perspective from the The Muse, the Pageant theme from 2009 that examined art’s feminine
side through role of women in the making, and inspiration of art. The
Genius focuses on the power, strength, and intelligence of a more masculine
influence. One that leads us to a better
understanding of the link between the advances of science and technology, and
show opens with Samuel F.B. Morse’s Gallery
of the Louvre. Morse, mostly known
for his contribution to the telegraph, and his invention of the Morse Code, was
an art professor, and an accomplished artist, his interest in electromagnetism
evident in this particular piece.
artist Georges Seurat’s 1890-1891 Le
Cirque is another featured work. The
life and energy breathes freshly through the talent of cast member Bailey
Kindig, as she is transformed from a California girl to a French circus
performer at the hand of Costume Director Mary LaVenture, Headpiece Manager
Reagan Foy, Make-up Director Allyson Doherty, and the backstage volunteers who
work tirelessly to bring perfection to the stage.
Music in the Tuileries has been
brought to life through vibrant color and stunning detail, a work first given
to the world in 1862 from the hand of artist Edward Manet. And yet another French work, Jacques-Louis
David’s Oath of the Horatii is highly
emotional, depicting the willingness to sacrifice oneself for a greater good.
French only make up a portion of the artists represented. The works of Italian, Dutch, American,
British, Polish, Spanish, German, and Austrian artists are showcased as
well. In total, there are forty works
brought to life for the enjoyment of the 2,600 spectators in the amphitheater
under the stars. The ninety-minute show
is divided into two acts.
in the middle of Act II, is British artist Charles Stadden’s Waterloo Chess Set, depicting the 1815
Battle of Waterloo. We were given a very
special behind the scenes opportunity to actually mingle and visit with the chess
piece actors, in full costume and character, as they were posed and placed in
perfect position on their chessboard stage.
was drawn to a little boy the same size as my son. To my astonishment, this isn’t 7 year-old
Aiden LaMarche’s first year as a pageant player. It is his third. He was first given a role at the young age of
5. The little knight sat atop his rearing
steed, horn in hand, still as a statue, an illusion made even more convincing
by his painted make-up and costume, and his latex hair.
asked what he likes most about getting to participate in the pageant, he says,
“Getting to trick people. At first, they
don’t know I’m there, or that I am real.”
He gets pointers from his mother, Kristin LaMarche, who helps out with
Babcock is another 7 year-old cast member, participating for the first time
last year. Perched regally across the chessboard
from his friend Aiden, he says he sometimes gets hot when he’s in costume. But it isn’t for long, because before he
knows it, he’s back in his own clothes, playing with his friend.
professional 30-piece orchestra with original score, and exciting technical
improvements give the show another texture, which only serve to enhance the
experience, keeping it relevant and fresh.
Veteran Sound and Video Engineer Jon Tschirgi says, “At the Pageant,
tech has to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.”
they have made a very revolutionary
improvement this year with the brand new L-Acoustics all-digital sound system,
the same sound system used at the Hollywood Bowl, and the Civic Opera
House. No other Orange County venue boasts such a jewel.
implementation of an LED stage lighting system is what has excited 22 year
Pageant Technical Director Richard Hill, and Director Challis Davy is
especially pleased with the mini-documentaries she has been able to craft
through the affordability of reliable, high-resolution video projectors.
Davy had the vision to show the relationship between science and technology,
and art. With two years of research and
planning, a lot of hard work, and hundreds of volunteer and staff members, she
has succeeded, proving her genius, and showing us that the theme for this year
was appropriately named. The Genius.
Pageant of the Masters offers nightly 8:30pm performances, beginning July 7,
and running through August 31, 2012.
Tickets range from $15 to $100 depending on the day of the week, and
seat location. Your Pageant ticket gives
you FREE admission to the Festival of Arts all summer long! Order online at PageantTickets.com, or by
Photo Credits: Kristi Tisor Ambriz and Jamie Gall