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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Treat Your Family This Summer To Laguna's Pageant of the Masters

Photo by Brian: Volunteer performance artists
bring Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado trading cards
to life at the Laguna Pageant of the Masters

Photo by Brian: The magic of the Pageant of the
Masters comes to life as teenage volunteers stand
perfectly still portraying 18th century Meissen figurines.

Treat Your Family This Summer

to Laguna's Pageant of the Masters

By Robin

This years 75th Pageant of the Masters Festival in Laguna Beach promises to reward attendees with a spectacular show honoring its’ platinum anniversary. The theme, “All the World’s a Stage” reflects the rich history of this annual extravaganza attended by people from far and wide with this spectacular show opening July 9 and running nightly to Aug. 30.

On press night, June 2, the crowd was treated to an insider’s view of what it takes to put on this yearly show which is manned almost entirely by volunteers, many of whom have been coming back year after year to participate.

The “living pictures” of the Pageant can certainly fool the eye, enough so that one has a difficult time determining where the painted backdrop and the live figures in the “painting” divulge from each other. When portraying art, one is amazed at the way these volunteers can stand in place not moving a muscle or changing facial expressions. Imagine for yourself, teenagers standing perfectly still as 18th century Meissen porcelain figurines and you discover the magic that is the Pageant of the Masters.

Two casts rotate weekly for the entire summer. Both casts must be the same size and of the same appearance to fit into one costume to portray the same painting or statue. The materials which make up the costumes are made so that they can mold easily into the exact folds of what they are in the original piece of art. Before showing to the audience, volunteers with a copy of the original art piece in hand, pose each figure to look exactly like the original. The result is such that one is looking at a piece of art brought to life in three dimensions by actual human beings.

One display which is being staged this year is from the Far East, Oriental trading cards which were produced in honor of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”. As they are lit up, one sees four large cards, part of which is painted prop, part of which is a live person in costume. The months of work which goes in to each piece of art, whether a painting, sculpture or figurine makes the transition from painted prop to human figure seamless.

The festival itself has been held since 1941 in a theater which was built specifically to house the Pageant of the Masters and the art show put on by the artists who are invited to display and sell their exquisite art just inside the Pageant doors. If you plan on attending the Pageant, make sure to make time for browsing through this unique offering of artists who have the honor of showing there.

The casting call for volunteers goes out in early January. Children as young as four and some up to the age of ninety have either volunteered as human art works or behind the stage as volunteers, from building sets to applying makeup, ushering, to coordinating the costume changes. When interviewing some of the volunteers, one woman stated, “I’m a young volunteer, I’ve only been here for twelve years. Others have been here for more than thirty years”. There is something for everyone to volunteer for if they get the “call” to the Pageant.

Tickets for the Pageant of the Masters are available on their website or by phone at 949-497-6582 or 800-487-3378 (toll free) Call or order online soon while some seats are still available to see this year’s 75th anniversary spectacular, “All the World’s a Stage”. You will experience an evening like none you have ever experienced before.

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