Spontaneous vist to Pageant of the Masters

This year of economic uncertainty and belt-tightening has made us all re-think how we spend our time, gas, and money on family outings. Pre-planning every detail for a family getaway is challenging enough, and perhaps the greatest deterrent to doing anything spontaneous with the family. But, rewards await those brave enough to throw caution to the wind and venture out on a completely unplanned family adventure.

Our summer “staycation” was punctuated by a very good friend’s invitation to spend the day with her family at their resort destination in Laguna Niguel, a mere hour an forty minute drive from each of our homes.

Spontaneous decision number one; get in the car and drive — no suitcases required.

After walking on the beach, enjoying a long lunch and great conversation about college visits and the upcoming school year with all of our kids, we decided to go see one of Laguna Beach’s longest-running art show: the Pageant of the Masters. Celebrating it’s 75Th year, this southern California art showcase is an eye-defying human re-creation of classic paintings, sculptures and porcelain figurines you have to see to believe. 

Spontaneous decision number two; go to a sold out show without tickets.

Yup, we didn’t have tickets to this performance — which runs every day in August and is already sold out — but thanks to my friend’s resourcefulness (and a little luck), we all managed to get tickets that same day — 8 total! — by various means; hotel concierge, some were donated back to the ticket booth, and one right at the door. Nope, we didn’t pay extra either, they were all face value!

Once inside the outdoor theater, the “tableaux vivant” or “living paintings” had our incredulous attention the entire two hours. We were hypnotized by the actors’ ability to pose completely immobile, in very uncomfortable positions, for the three minute musical pieces which accompanied each painting. After recovering from initial disbelief, the audience was treated to step-by-step reconstructions of several tableaux which included child actors posing ever so still, an amazing feat our kids couldn’t achieve in their own seats!

Nineteen paintings were recreated at the Irvine Bowl during the show including the crisp white sculpture of Shakespeare’s Memorial by William Kent, Henri Toulouse Lautrec’s “The Dance”, Edward Eyth’s “Olympic Spirit” sculpture now on display in Beijing (pictured below), and the finale’s traditional piece by Leonardo da Vinci: The Last Supper.

Try holding this pose for three minutes. They did!

If you’re feeling foolhardy, here are some tips to better enjoy the pageantry of this show: bring binoculars, blankets and buy a cup of hot chocolate. This will make an otherwise chilly night outdoors more palatable.

Saying goodbye to our friends that night was bitter-sweet, but the experience was very rewarding and offered our children a few life-lessons:

* Small sacrifices yield big rewards

* Don’t take NO at face value

* Have and intrepid adventure once in a while. It will certainly bring a smile to your face for years to come.





  1. Anonymous says:

    I always love this show. We had gone every year for the past ten years. Lately it was especially good because my daughter and her husband live in San Diego so it was half way for both families.
    We didn't go this year. Lots of reasons……….
    But it was nice to read your blog and enjoy it vicariosly. The art being shown outside in the bowl is always a special treat to me too!!
    Glad I stumbled across your blog and I'm happy you decided to share your special time.
    Be well

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Marian. It's wonderful to know talented artists like yourself can find something that interests you on my blog.
    Thanks for stopping by!


  1. […] evening, during our summer weekend trip there, we took a spontaneous 20 minute drive up to see The Festival of The Arts Pageant of the Masters in near by Laguna Beach. […]

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