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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Genius, 2012 Pageant of the Masters

Up close with a "living picture"

There is an excitement in the air this time of year in Laguna Beach. The town is flooded with visitors and locals enjoying the summer sun with the hot topic on everyone’s lips being ‘art.’ It’s no wonder because with the warming of the weather it means it’s festival season and time for the world-renowned production of  Pageant of the Masters. Celebrating their 80th anniversary, the Pageant of the Masters has been combining the world of theater and art by creating tableaux vivants – “living pictures” of some of the world’s most well-known works of art.

Each year the Pageant comes up with a new theme, new tableaux vivants, an original score and other unique surprises. This year, Director Diane Challis Davy chose a theme of power and strength that explores the relationship between art and advances in science and technology, The Genius. “I’m curious about the materials and techniques used by the old masters,” Challis Davy said. “One hundred and fifty years ago, artists had to make their own paints! In a way, you had to be a chemist. I’m fascinated by the huge roles played by developments in optics and photography when painting realistic works. But, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy The Genius.” In fact, you only need a sense of wonder (and maybe a cozy blanket) to enjoy the show.

The lights go down, music from the live orchestra plays and we hear the narrator announcing the start of the show. The curtains part and we see the first tableaux, Samuel F.B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre.” The audience sits spellbound seeing this life-sized picture. We all know that there are volunteer actors in the roles of the people featured in the painting, however it is difficult to distinguish there is no movement. The narrator tells us that Morse featured himself front and center in the painting and as he says this, the actor playing Morse breaks his pose and turns to face the audience. All at once we sigh with the shock of seeing him move. The show continues like this, repeatedly putting the audience in a place of awe and wonder when seeing famous works of art (by Michelangelo, Manet, Rockwell, Rodin, van Gogh and many others) come to life right before our eyes.

There is a famous quote by Vincent van Gogh that is featured in The Genius that I think sums up the show just perfectly. “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars make me dream.” While you sit in the outdoor amphitheater, under the starry sky, watching this extraordinary production, you too will be moved to dream.

See Genius nightly at 8:30pm
July 7- August 31, 2012
Tickets start at $15

By Anne-Marie S.

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