Regional Theater Preview: PARTNERS (Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach)

Post image for Regional Theater Preview: PARTNERS (Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach)

by Tony Frankel on July 7, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


Pageant of the Masters, now in its 82nd year, is a singularly unique entertainment that has perfected the art of tableaux vivants (“living pictures”). With world-class designers and over 600 volunteers (including actors and a research team), this elegant and classy outfit—equal parts museum, play, concert, and lecture—re-creates for seated spectators at the Irvine Bowl classical and contemporary paintings, sculptures, and other works of art (click on photo below for larger image). Supported by a 35-piece orchestra, terrific writing, superlative artisans, and a top-notch narrator, you cannot find a better way to spend a summer night under the stars.


But the selection of works is hardly random. A different theme is selected annually. The theme at this year’s show—which begins tonight and runs through August 31, 2016—is simple yet far-reaching. And certainly it is an idea many of us take for granted: Partners. Think about it. A married couple. Scientists. Patron and artist. Fred and Ginger. And what about Lewis and Clark who partnered as a team and then partnered with Sacajawea? All of these partnerships means it was a real job for the Pageant’s director Diane Challis Davy when it came to the selection process for this ever-popular event: “There are so many artworks inspired by partnerships, it’s difficult to narrow them down.”


And yet that is precisely what she and Pageant Scriptwriter Dan Duling manage to do year after year. The 2016 Pageant will feature artworks from many nations including France, Spain, Sweden, Italy and Mexico, all which represent the memorable art made possible by partnerships. This theatrical and musical journey will also consider how partnership can become an ideal subject for masterpieces devoted to family, love and courtship, as well as historical, scientific and even fictional quests.

POM_Induno_KissOnTheHand.jpg Art_Induno_TheKissOnTheHand

As always, you will see an original artwork, such as Gerolamo Induno’s 1877 oil The Kiss on the Hand, transformed to living art right before your eyes (see above photos of the artwork and a tableau vivant of the same). There will also be sculptural tableaux, including Harriet W. Frishmuth’s The Dancers (see below). From the surreal originality of Frida Kahlo to the warm familial scenes of Sweden’s Carl Larsson (his 1903 oil Outdoors in the Summer Winds pictured at the beginning of this article), Partners promises a double-dose of theatrical fun and surprises. This summer’s production will find new and exciting ways to tell the stories to be found within a gallery of masterpieces, many appearing on the Pageant stage for the very first time.

Pageant of the Masters re-creation of Harriet W. Frishmuth's sculpture The Dancers to be featured in next year's show, Partners.

The Pageant is also a great way to discover artists relatively unknown to the average museum-goer. While you may recognize Henri Matisse (his 1919 oil, Tea, pictured below) David Hockney (his 1968 acrylic American Collectors) or Diego Rivera (the re-creation of his mural Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park is also pictured below), you will be glad to learn about Jacques Louis David, Phillip Von Saltza, and Lorenzo C. Valera. (I won’t divulge more of the program—it’s best as a surprise.)


Image Courtesy of (POM_Hockney_AmericanCollectors)

Tickets are always a hot commodity for this world-renowned event. Not only are you saturated in beauty, art and community, but you will be inspired by the invention and beauty that mankind is capable of producing. I promise the show will leave you with misty-eyed hope. The Pageant of the Masters and you—what a great partnership.

Pageant of the Masters re-creation of Diego Rivera's mural Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park to be featured in next year's show, Partners.

photos courtesy of Festival of the Arts

Pageant of the Masters
part of The Festival of the Arts
Irvine Bowl, 650 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach
July 7 through August 31, 2016, staged nightly at 8:30
for tickets, call 800.487.3378 or visit Pageant

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