LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. – Pageant of the Masters, a theatrical celebration of world-renowned art through the magic of tableaux vivants – living images – brings to life another year of iconic art using people dressed and posed to identical to the originals.
This summer’s show, themed “Wonderful World”, features live recreations of art from around the world, including works by Swedish painter Carl Larsson, Italian painter Tiepolo, French artist Jean Beraud, Denmark Edvard Eriksen, Japanese artist Chikananobu and many more.
“It’s our favorite summer tradition,” Laguna Beach resident Nelly Vargas told The Epoch Times. “I love this theme…I think this might be my new favorite!”
In addition to the 90-minute theatrical performance, a live narrator guides the audience through each piece – often with humor and deep thought – with music from a full orchestra.
“The world is waiting,” proclaims contest narrator Richard Doyle as the show opens in the Arts Festival’s outdoor amphitheater.
As cool air blows over the audience under the starry night, the stage lights up with colors bouncing off the surrounding digital screen.
Spectators lean forward, crane their necks to better see the artistic recreations, while others watch through special binoculars. They are soon transported to 17 different countries without ever leaving their seat.
The journey begins in Paris, “the city of light and love”, says Doyle, with eerie recreations of the seas of 1880s Parisians strolling the famous Champs Elysees and the Seine in the famous oil paintings. oil by Jean Beraud.
Resounding “wows” can be heard as each installation is transported to the 2,600-seat amphitheater, each bearing an uncanny resemblance to the original piece it seeks to replicate. Even with binoculars, the live volunteers posing as the subjects of each play remain motionless in front of the audience.
Using one of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s oil paintings as a canvas, the narrator breaks down the intricate steps to bring each work of art to life with its living volunteers.
Volunteers in installations first go through makeup, often having their entire body covered to match the various hues and features depicted in the original artwork. From there, they quickly put on identical clothing and headpieces, already pre-made and customized months before for an exact match.
Because subjects are often depicted standing on narrow surfaces or lying down, they are strapped to the work with seat belts hidden from viewers. After a final check by the directors to ensure an identical correspondence with the original, the painting is unrolled smoothly on stage.
However, the paintings are not the only works on display during the show. Audiences also enjoy live dance performances showcasing world music and culture, including Japanese Geisha dance, colorful glow-in-the-dark Mexican Dia De Los Muertos dance, and even tribal statues from China, Thailand and various parts of Africa.
This year’s installation also pays homage to Nellie Bly, a journalist who challenged the notions of her time. Her escapades took her on a 72-day solo trip around the world in the late 1880s – a prospect of great intrigue at the time – which was re-enacted for the public with artwork featuring featured its journey for seamless integration into the theme of the 2022 show.
From July 7 to September 2, the show also offers access to the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show all summer long, with live music and local artists selling their own work. Each Pageant ticket purchase gives guests unlimited access to the Arts Festival throughout the summer.