Pageant of the Masters: The Art Detective

Pageant of the Masters tickets

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 for tickets and other information, now playing through August 30th.

“Light in the Piazza” Lights Up South Coast Repertory’s Stage

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The cast of South Coast Repertory Theatre’s “The Light in the Piazza.” — Debora Robinson / SCR


“Say it Somehow,” would be the song that perfectly describes how speechless this cast left me after their performance. Being a common theatergoer myself I was surprised I had never been to a performance at South Coast Repertory before. Most of the actors in the cast had Broadway experience underneath their belt and were perfectly casted for this larger than life show.

In case you are unfamiliar with this musical, “Light in the Piazza,” is the story of Margaret Johnson (Patti Cohenour) and her daughter Clara’s (Erin Mackey) vacation in Florence, Italy during the 1950’s. Clara meets Fabrizio Naccarelli (David Burnham) the love of her life while touring the sights with her mother. The events following make it more difficult for Margaret Johnson to handle as Clara exhibits the constant desire to be treated as an adult despite mental and emotional complications.

Patti Cohenour is hilariously realistic as Margaret Johnson, the controlling but loving mother. Erin Mackey complimented her very well as her daughter Clara—the two shared effortless comedic timing. David Burnham’s brought the romance to the show with his Italian serenading and beautiful voice—the perfect Fabrizio. And let’s not forget the actors who nearly stole the show providing the comic relief, the family of Fabrizio portrayed by Perry Ojeda as Signor Naccarrelli, Mary Gutzi as Signora Naccarelli, Christopher Newell as Giuseppe Naccarelli, and Melina Kalomas as France Naccarelli.

“Light in the Piazza,” is the perfect combination of comedy and drama, making it a realistic appreciation of life, love, and hope. South Coast Repertory states the performance is appropriate for middle school and above as it does contain herbal cigarette smoking. I would however suggest it for high school and above as the show does have mature content. The entire performance runs about two hours and 15-minutes including one 15-minute intermission.

Since South Coast Repertory is located conveniently across the street from South Coast Plaza, there are shops and restaurants to enjoy prior to the performance. Looking for a restaurant with ambiance and style, try Scott’s Seafood or Mastro’s Steakhouse.

Parking for South Coast Repertory is $10 in the parking structure located by the venue. Do not park in the South Coast Plaza parking lot as they are now implementing a new rule prohibiting those watching a performance from using their parking lot. Vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense.

Tickets to go see “Light in the Piazza,” can be purchased online at: Looking for a discounted ticket? Purchase tickets right at the box office two hours prior to show time. Performances run until February 23rd so don’t miss the opportunity to see this wonderful production!

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 South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa — Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today