World View: Pageant soars, Festival dips

July 12, 2012|By Imran Vittachi

The other night, I combined my first Pageant of the Masters experience with my first visit to the Festival of Arts.

The 2012 Pageant blew me away, working its magic on me and most of the spectators who attended the VIP showing on July 6. But I'm sorry to report that its older twin, the Festival — long touted as the crown jewel of Laguna Beach's summertime art shows — impressed me less.

While folks in Laguna might bristle at the suggestion I am about to make, I think that some people would agree that the FOA can be improved. It's ripe for a change.


Because the Festival is marking its 80th anniversary this summer, now is the time to think about changing the rules of eligibility for artists exhibiting there, by making the juried open-air show a more competitive one and opening it up to artists who live beyond the Festival's zone of eligibility, which limits entries for the show to artists living in certain parts of Orange County.

I will return to this point later. First, let me praise "The Genius."

This year's edition of the Pageant lived up to its name. I have never seen anything like it.

The highly imaginative and large-scale slide show of "living pictures" or "tableaux vivants," which pays homage to masterpieces of painting and sculpture, intrigued me from the beginning and kept me riveted in my seat in the Irvine Bowl.

Hats off to the Pageant's director, Diane Challis Davy, scriptwriter Dan Duling, narrator Richard Doyle and conductor John Elg, and along with the rest of the orchestra and support crew, for pulling off yet another fine production.

An equally loud round of applause should go to the hundreds of volunteer cast members from Laguna Beach and beyond who worked so hard to breathe life into these recreations of the great tableaux and sculptures. These brave men, women and children, in very chameleon-like ways, inserted themselves into the various recreated works, and appeared not even to breathe.

Here and there, I did spy a few of them blinking, but, for the most part, I found it hard to grasp that these were real people inhabiting the fast-moving and inter-changing display of frames and sculptures.

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