Try to get any Laguna Beach resident to explain what the world-famous Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters is, and you will probably find them fumbling for words. I still remember the first time I asked about it … I had recently moved to Laguna, and was in a cab on the way to the airport. The cabbie asked me if I had been to the Pageant yet. I told him no, but that I was looking forward to it from what little I’d heard about it. The cabbie was immediately dismayed that I had heard so little about the Pageant, so I asked him to explain. He tried, and was so overwhelmed that he started to cry.

Kid you not. This is a true story.

If you go on the Pageant website – – their own describe the Pageant as “90 minutes of living pictures, incredible faithful art re-creations of classical and contemporary works with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces.”

Uhmm . . . ok. So, I get a general idea of what this means. It’s an entirely different meaning, however, when you’re ushered into the great, stone amphitheater and the show actually begins.

This summer (2013), the theme is “The Big Picture” with the Pageant’s 80th birthday celebration of cinema and legendary filmmakers. You can’t even begin to guess what images and artwork these people will pull from each year, so just give it up … See it in person.     

The first time I saw the Pageant of the Masters, my best friend, Diana, was out visiting from Denver and accompanied me. The curtains parted and the first “art piece” – this magnificent grand master’s painting, a larger than life piece, was there on stage. It was an enormous expansion of the original art, of course. We oohed and aahed and thought that was pretty great. The curtains closed and re-opened to a new painting, equally as large and overwhelming in its immense size and fidelity to the original … and then, all of a sudden … the people in the painting got up and WALKED out of the painting.

I kid you not, we had NO idea that this is what we would be in store for at the Pageant of the Masters. We turned to each other, mouths hanging open, and “got it” the rest of the show. (Thank God the pageant is kind enough to educate the sitting public early in the game as to how a “painting” or a sculpture” is actually put together with real people.)

This Pageant is the only one of its kind in the world. It is a sizable annual venture of VOLUNTEER people and VOLUNTEER painters, craftsmen and costumers who diligently re-create famous paintings, sculptures and statues, from the famous DaVinci Last Supper to Rome’s famed Trevi Fountain (yes, live people are “plastered” from head to foot to resemble the characters in that fountain). It is extraordinary.

Don’t even bother asking people about it. Enjoy it live, in person. 


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