Chris and the Pageant of the Masters

Chris Galloway, one of our Tour Directors, just returned from taking the August tour to the Pageant of the Masters and the Hollywood Bowl last week. Here he offers his observations on the pageant, which is certainly one of the most unique cultural arts events in the country.

I got the call from Mark that a tour director was needed to escort a group to Laguna Beach to attend The Festival of the Arts & Pageant of the Masters. Knowing nothing of what the Pageant entailed, I hesitantly accepted the assignment. I did my research and was convinced that I would never appreciate the spectacle of the Pageant. I mean, a show comprised of people posing and replicating famous works of art? I had my doubts. My travelers, many of whom had attended the pageant previously, tried to convince me that I was in for a real treat and would be awe struck. By the time intermission came, I had to admit to them all, with hat-in-hand, I was impressed, absolutely amazed and intrigued. Though words can never capture the brilliance of the show, allow me to try.

The whole concept behind The Pageant of The Masters is to make what in real life is 3-D (the performers and sets), appear two dimensional and replicate famous works of art. Through the use of specialized sets, costumes, creatively applied make-up, and the magic of stage lighting, live people completely disappeared into the painting, so that one cannot distinguish the live performers from the rest of the subjects in the paintings.

In one instillation, the stage crew explains and demonstrates how this illusion is achieved. The sets are all constructed so that the foreground is to scale and slopes backwards into the scenery. Even the size of the performers is also used to create scale. For example, children are dressed as adults, and because of their small size, it creates the illusion that they are in the background of the painting. All the performers are harnessed into the set and posed identically to the subjects in the painting. Next, an adjustable framing system and drapes are used to dress the image. The lights are turned off, then stage lights are used and…voila!…the illusion is complete. On more than one occasion, I found myself slack-jawed, exclaiming, “No Way!” Seeing how the magician’s tricks are performed only heighten my enjoyment, because afterwards, I was better able to appreciate how much time, work, and creativity went into each presentation.

I was so impressed that I have already approached Mark about the possibility of returning next year with a group to the Pageant of The Masters. If you want a touch of class and appreciate the arts, I invite you to come along on next year’s trip as art comes alive right before your eyes!

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