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This 'Supper' is a family dinner

Multiple generations of the Loesches volunteer every year at the Pageant of the Masters.

December 31, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Make–up supervisor Nancy Remley creates rosy cheeks on model Maggie Loesch as they prepare for the Pageant of the Masters in 2004.
Make–up supervisor Nancy Remley creates rosy… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

Anthony Loesch's firstborn, Maggie, was in preschool when her teacher called him in for a meeting.

There might be a slight problem, she said worriedly. "I asked Maggie what you do, and she said you're Jesus Christ."

Loesch replied, "Well, I am — kinda."

Neither joking nor delusional, the Los Alamitos resident clarified that he portrays the central figure of Christianity at the Pageant of the Masters every summer — an activity that he shared with the smart-as-a-whip daughter, who is now 16.

For the upcoming season, Loesch, 56, will don Christ's attire and freeze for 90 seconds during the show's conclusion: Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper." The part has been his for 14 years and will be his again, pending casting calls, of course.

The 2014 program of tableaux vivantes has been deemed "The Art Detective." Pageant organizers are holding auditions Saturday, Sunday and Jan. 9 at the Irvine Bowl Park as they search for men, women and children of all ages and sizes.

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The cast members' dedication and support — on stage and behind the scenes — have breathed life into the 80-year-old Laguna Beach tradition, reflected Sharbie Higuchi, the show's marketing and public relations director.

"Quite simply, there would be no pageant without our volunteers," she said.

And what keeps them coming back? It's fun.

"It seems more like one big family reunion every summer," Higuchi said about the more than 500 volunteers. "Lifelong friendships have been formed through volunteering at the pageant. It is also a great bonding activity for families."

Loesch agrees.

His wife, Mary, played John the Beloved for the couple's two initial years in the event but dropped out after becoming pregnant with their second child, Lily. Loesch continued to drive to Orange County toting then 18-month-old Maggie. When it was time for his makeup to be applied and headpiece fitted, plethora of arms would reach out to cradle and watch her.

"When I was little, I remember a lot of people would hold me, and sometimes I would go to sleep in the headdress room," Maggie said. "In the makeup room, they would paint little lady bugs on my face. I've known them growing up, and we are all like one big family."

When she turned 5 — the minimum age for a pageant volunteer — Maggie began trying out for pieces. She was chosen to pose as an astronaut and was also in Diego Velázquez's "Las Meninas," among other works.

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