On Monday evening we drove to Laguna Beach to attend the Pageant of the Masters. Finally after all those years of living in either L.A. itself or California in general, we were traveling from Arizona to see something that somehow eluded us for all of the preceding years.
I had somehow envisioned that the curtain would sweep back and there would be a "painting" composed of people and then the curtain would close and later open to reveal another painting. My expectations were not very high as it turned out. Instead we were in a professional theatre production with every aspect of the production presented to the highest standards. This photo is of a photo from the program we purchased. We were sitting on aisle seats on the right side, fairly close to the stage. However, we were warned to bring binoculars and we were so glad we did, because as you can see the painting from your seats, you can only see the people in the painting from the binoculars. They let us see the details of the costumes and the faces of the actors. I am calling them actors, but they are volunteers, some of whom have been coming to this production for years and years.
This is a photo of the actors for Washington Crossing the Delaware and just before the curtain, the scene manager checks to make sure everything is in the correct place.
The title of this year's production was The Art Detective and many of the paintings or sculptures presented were involved somehow in theft. I didn't think the theme held up throughout the entire presentation, but it was immaterial, as each painting or sculpture was introduced in a running script or commentary which explained its presence and gave a little of its history. Some of the paintings were stationary in a tableau and others had someone move to do something with an actor on stage. There were skits involving some of the paintings and there were sculptures presented to the right and left of the stage. All in all, there were 39 presentations with a short intermission in between.
There was an orchestra that played for the entire performance, much of the music was composed to fit the situation. There was even a dog for one of the paintings. We were completely surprised at every turn. The sculptures were amazing, the paintings were beautiful and filled with surprises. How they did Hockney's painting of the man swimming beneath the water of a pool, was incredible. And why we hadn't taken the time to visit this splendid performance years ago is a mystery. It is like nothing we have ever seen before and we are glad we took this special trip to see this special event.