Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pageant Of The Masters 2007

On Sunday night we headed down to Laguna Beach to see the Pageant of the Masters at the Festival of the Arts. The drive to Laguna Beach took about two hours and the show started at 8:30 PM. Before the show you could peruse the art, photography, jewelry, and more done by local artists.

The show started and it was fascinating but hard to describe. Performers re-enact famous paintings and statues. The detail is so exquisite – it looks like you are looking at the real painting. The performers are shown for about a minute or so while a narrator explains the history of the painting, illustration, or statue.

When the first painting came up, “Country School, 1871” by Winslow Homer, the wife’s favorite painting, the audience gasped when they realized they weren’t looking at an actual painting. It looked like a painting but it was a group of performers posed as the painting. It was totally awesome. One of the little girls in the painting couldn’t quite keep still.

Early in the performance the lights are brought up and the audience is shown how it is done. A frame is brought into place. The foreground stage is lined up with the frame and performers in costume and makeup mount the stage. Props are given to the performers – in this case one prop was a fake dress skirt that billowed out as it does in the painting. The background is then brought in behind the foreground and performers. Once everything is lined up, the lights are dimmed and then, when they come back up, you have the finished painting. It is truly remarkable. The lighting plays an important role. Before the lights dimmed it didn’t quite look like a painting but after the lights are brought back up the effect is astonishing.

As each new scene was brought into view in the dim light you could see the figures move before they froze in the bright lights to form the finished picture. The effect of seeing the movement and then seeing the painting was really cool.

During one recreation of several winter Saturday Evening Post Covers simulated snow (actually soap bubbles) were showered of the audience.

In another recreation of a bronze statue of peter pan, a light suspended from a line played the role of Tinkerbell with lighting and special effects simulating pixie dust.

After an intermission there were Chinese lion dancers and a Chinese dragon. I found it strange that all the Chinese performers were played by Caucasians. I would have hired professional dancers from Chinatown.

Unfortunately photography was prohibited so I have no pictures. That’s too bad as there would have been many opportunities for great pictures. They do have pictures on their website here (click on Pageant Of The Masters in the upper right hand corner to see the slide show).

This was the second activity suggested to us by the “J” – the first being the Sound of Music Sing-Along. So far I would say she’s two for two. The Pageant of the Master was cool and I am glad to have seen it.

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