At this year’s media preview for the coming Pageant of the Masters, there were all sorts of happy people around … Happy board members who see the new front facade actually reaching completion … Happy sales and marketing staff members who are seeing a record year in pre-event ticket sales … Happy stage set designers, stage construction workers and endlessly patient “painters of people” who are back yet again for this year’s new look and a new theme … The Pursuit of Happiness.
Since 1933, the venerable Pageant of the Masters continues to meticulously create “living pictures” – two words that can never adequately describe what actually happens when the curtains part and the show begins. I’ve written about the Pageant for countless years, I’ve always included it in my Laguna Beach travel guide, and I’ve attended nearly every year’s presentation. But even as a writer (who’s been doing this about 33 years, too), I can never fully explain the magic that happens here.
This year’s show explores 40 artists’ take on happiness. These artists and their works are plucked by Pageant organizers from any number of centuries and mediums. In one scene, you might find Edward P. Moran’s painting of Betsy Ross presenting the first flag to George Washington. In the next, Norman Rockwell’s Window Washer is all smiles. In still another, Harriet Frishmuth’s bronze, the Bubble Dancer, is caught mid-leap.
How living, breathing humans hold these poses in the show has got to be a happy success, in and of itself. How endless numbers of volunteers costume, paint and pose these show participants and then see the end result in the Irvine Bowl has got to be something closet to ecstasy. It is quite an endeavor!
There is nothing like Pageant of the Masters anywhere in the world. This year, it begins again on July 8th, with nightly performances through Aug. 31. Advance tickets range from $15 – $230.
Get in on some happiness!