When I walked through the gates of Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from my first experience at Pageant of the Masters. Several months back I received a wonderful opportunity from the Laguna Beach Visitors Center for a tour of not only their lovely beach town but an inside look at how they bring art to life. Our tour guide took us backstage to meet the set designers, costume designers, hair and makeup artists, and the lighting designer—all who when their talents are put together with music and performers standing recreate world renown masterpieces.
It is recommended to arrive an hour and a half prior to show time; parking being the most tedious task since Festival of the Arts is located right in the middle of a canyon about 10-15 minutes inland of Laguna Beach. The parking, closest proximity to the main entrance varies between $10-15 and has attendants that direct you where to park. These lots fill quickly which is why I stress that you get there as early as you can. When entering the lot you will see a line in front of a kiosk, this is where attendees will pay, using a credit card or exact cash—it does not give back change. There is also a complimentary shuttle in the form of an old fashioned trolley if attendees park further away.
At this point I’m standing in awe at the center of the Festival of Arts. There is live jazz entertainment, a wine bar, food stands, a full restaurant, and local artists with their own pieces to share. Audience members are encouraged to talk to the artists and can even make purchases! Right before the performance you can walk over to the rental stand for blankets ($5) and binoculars ($10). Initially, I was unsure whether or not both items were necessities but believe me they sell them for a reason.
This year’s theme, The Art Detective highlights pieces that were shrouded in mystery and others that were the center of famous heists. Among my favorite artworks displayed were the Egyptian Discoveries such as the Sun Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Queen Nefertari both shown near the close of Act One. As soon as the lighting brought these two wonders to life, my mouth dropped. Each of the other masterpieces portrayed are unique in their own right but there’s something about seeing ones you’re more familiar with than the rest. Although I’ve never been to Egypt personally, it felt as if I was instantly taken there. Incredibly realistic and awe-inspiring are only some of the adjectives I can think of to describe the Egyptian Discoveries.
Act Two was significantly faster than the first and was over in flash. I’ll leave the rest for you to see for yourselves. I can see now why many flock back to the event year after year. I think I found myself a new tradition! Special thanks go to Stephanie Reid (Where OC Magazine), Sharbie Higuchi (Pageant of the Masters), and Deanna Durst (Mendocino Farms).
Festival of Arts does not permit photography of any kind inside the arena and guests will be asked to check-in their cameras. Pageant of the Masters is not recommended for children under the age of 4. The Art Detective includes the use of nudity, strobe lights, and fog machines. Go to http://www.foapom.com/pageant-of-the-masters/ for tickets and other information, now playing through August 30th.