Did you know that the Pageant of the Masters, which debuted in Laguna Beach in 1933, has only gone dark twice…once during World War II (1942-1945) and last year due to the pandemic. I can’t begin to describe how excited I was to learn that after a year of closures, the show would go on this summer! I grew up in Southern California, but it was not until I moved to Orange County that I first experience this beautiful, unique performance. With scheduled performances through September 3, 2021, do not miss the Pageant of the Masters, a journey through the art of living pictures.
Pageant of the Masters
The Pageant of the Masters is one of the most unique productions in the world. The ninety-minute experience enchants audiences through living pictures. I have had the opportunity to see the production several times but only recently learned about its fascinating history and inception.
Artist Lolita Perine had an idea for a living work of art during the second Festival of Arts in 1933. She convinced Laguna Beach residents to dress in costume, then seated them in an oversized frame to recreate famous works of art. An early version of the modern Pageant of the Masters was performed the following year, laying the framework for our modern production.
Father of the Pageant Roy Ropp renamed the production and has been credited with organizing a high-quality production in the summer of 1935, refining it through 1941. Today, the ninety-minute performance includes a live narrator, a professional orchestra, intricate sets, sophisticated lighting, and an original score with period songs performed by professional vocalists. Authentic recreations of classical and contemporary works of art include real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces and it is truly one of the most magnificent things you will see. The dedicated staff and volunteers have won recognization as creating one of the best presentations of its kind.
2021 Pageant of the Masters – Made in America: Trailblazing Artists and Their Stories
This year’s theme introduces audiences to the artists…the revolutionaries, innovators, and dreamers who made this country their home and were inspired by the freedoms upon which our nation was founded. Originally planned for 2020, the 2021 show will offer a collection of tributes to artists who “made their mark” in American art. Some of the artists featured in this year’s production include Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Norman Rockwell, Daniel Chester French, Luis Jimenez, and John Nieto. Two notable segments include a tribute to the inspirational story of African American sculptor Edmonia Lewis and a recreation of a photo by Dorothea Lange, accompanied by two songs written by Woody Guthrie. The photo depicts the heartache of the Great Depression followed by the recreation of a brightly colored WPA mural that celebrates the resiliency of the American spirit. The production will conclude with tradition and nostalgia as the performers recreate Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Every production since 1936 has closed with this famous Renaissance masterpiece.
Pageant of the Masters is breathtaking and moving…a performance not to be missed. Performed during the Festival of the Arts under the stars in Laguna Beach, this is a production that will give audiences a new appreciation for the arts and their imaginative works.
Best Tips: Pageant of the Masters
- Plan to arrive early to enjoy the art festival. You can pack a picnic, enjoy live music on the lawn, and pick up a local art piece to complement your home decor.
- Download the app for the latest event information, including the music line-up which takes place on the Festival Concert Stage.
- Dress warm! Even in the middle of the summer, Laguna Beach nights are cool. You can also purchase a blanket at the gift shop (or bring your own).
- Take the free trolley! Park along PCH or Laguna Canyon Road.
- Remember that your Pageant ticket gives you unlimited access to the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show all summer.
Tickets to this summer’s production, Made in America: Trailblazing Artists and Their Stories start at $30 per person and can be purchase by visiting FOAPOM.com.