2011 Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters: Be Transported to Another Place and Time


There’s magic in the air and you can be part of it.    Get yourself over to the 2011 Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters going on now through August 31st at 650 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.

The Pageant itself with the theme “Only Make Believe,” is magical and artful in every sense with  some of the world’s most famous paintings, sculptures’ and other works of art,  coming alive – literally-,  transformed into life-sized recreations,  right before your eyes


As amazing as the show itself, and,  like magic, hard to imagine and believe without seeing it in person, what’s equally amazing is what you don’t get to see much of as you sit in the audience, and yet you feel throughout the evening.  It’s  what goes on behind the scenes to get these art tableaus onto the stage.  The stage sets, the make up, the rehearsals  and the productions.

The Pageant is staged by an amazing crew of over 500 volunteers.  Some of these people have participated in the event year after year.  Some have multiple family members participating.  Some are locals, some come from many miles away.  Some are as young as 5 (and can hold their pose without moving for 90 seconds), and others could be their grandparents (perhaps great grandparents), and all volunteer to participate on one of two teams that work in seven day shifts to put on this Pageant.  What all of this produces that you can feel and is so impressive, is the connection to something greater than any one person, the sense of community, of family and of dedication.  There is a Dedication to this tradition of the Pageant, and a dedication to the arts, and a dedication to one another.  Perhaps they wouldn’t express it this way, but how else can you explain the time and commitment that any one of them put in.

As this year’s show opens, you are transported to the past … the early 1900’s …to see Peter Pan and Wendy fly over Neverland  and from that moment on, you get to visit the past, the present and a bit of the future without leaving your seat.

A highlight of Act 1 is when they let you see a bit of the ‘behind the scenes’ magic, as they set and stage the 1958 John Falter painting “Trick-or-Treating in the Burbs.’  You can watch the paintings subjects, 5  children, one adult and 2 dogs (the dogs aren’t real), step into their places, fix their positions (with a little wiggling, costume adjusting and balancing help from the stage crew), and then, the lighting is set and you see, before your eyes, the scene originally published on the 1958 Saturday Evening Post cover and you blink, shake your head a bit, and sit in awe for the 90 second duration of this tableau.

The first act ends with a trio of dragons surrounding us from two sides and above and you realize you have a wide grin on your face as you leave your seat for a little break from the magic of Act One.

Act Two is as diverse in its representation of artists and styles as Act One and  brings us closest to the present time with the 1998 satire “In Smog and Thunder” depicting the War of the Californians (North and South).  It is a nice bit of humor that is our entry into act two and depictions of diverse artworks and sculptures ending with Salvador Dali’s Sacrament of the Last Supper.

In addition to  the people on stage reenacting the art, the mellifluous  voice of Richard Doyle moves us throughout  the evening with the narration, humor and history of what our eyes are  beholding.  The live orchestra under the direction of John Elg is moving and provides the soundtrack to carry us on this magic carpet ride.

This event started in 1932 to acknowledge the community of artists in the Laguna community.  And since then, this annual Pageant has delighted generations.  Whatever your taste in art, the Pageant is about something larger and grander.  The surrounding events, displays and art shows can entertain  for hours, even days.  Schedule enough time to see it all and don’t miss out on this piece of history and magic!!

Go to www.LagunaFestivalofArts.org for additional information.