Sunny Pageant of the Masters


Pageant of the Masters Entry Wall
Under the Sun at Pageant of the Masters 2018 in Laguna Beach, California. Photo by M.C.

Through the years, Pageant of the Masters has focused on the masters like Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Picasso, Raphael, Renoir, Vermeer, Leonardo da Vinci, and other artists around the world. But this year the theme is Under the Sun.

The Festival of Arts is celebrating 85 years and the Laguna Art Museum 100 years. Act One celebrates California and quite a bit of Laguna Beach’s art history.

The show opens with a Native American woman dancing near a fire atop a hill, depicting early life in Laguna Beach. The easy storytelling voice of Narrator Richard Doyle explains that a woman’s skull was found in Laguna Beach, dating back 17,000 years! Below, on stage, From the Beginning by bronze sculptor Jorge Fernandez depicts Native Americans sitting and standing on a rock. The first paintings begin with California’s mission era. Toll for Sunrise Mass, Pala Mission by J. Henry Sandham portrays a Native American pulling mission bells in San Antonio, Texas.

Mexican Cattle in Southern California by Artist William Hahn
Mexican Cattle in Southern California, by Artist William Hahn, Oil on Canvas, 1883

Back to California, picturesque paintings show the ranchos like Mexican Cattle Drivers in Southern California by William Hahn, and lithographs of orange crate labels are re-enacted. Both remind me of my ancestral history as my family worked the land and my Mexican grandmother packed oranges in similar crates in an Orange County packing plant.

Also, the artists’ colony and Festival of Art beginning are shown. Robert Kuntz was Laguna’s Renaissance Man known for his oil on canvas of beach scenes, numbers on signs, and freeway overpasses. The New Waves section aerials into the famous The Endless Summer lithograph by John Van Hamersvelf and The Laguna Beach Boys perform a Beach Boys song. Beach balls go flying!

Dejeuner sur LHerbe Claude Monet
Déjeuner sur L’Herbe by Artist Claude Monet, Oil on Canvas, 1865-66

The music is exceptional. I even get a good view of harpist Amy Wilkins before the barrier raises covering the orchestra pit. There are many harp parts in Act Two. Impressionist composer Claude Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1 floats through the air, but with keyboard not the harp. Arabesque is a beautiful piece for the harp with syncopation, but not easy. Claude Monet’s Déjeuner sur L’Herbe comes together. The yellow skirt is snapped in place by a stagehand. Rarely are so many paintings shown coming together. Usually, you only see one painting from behind the scenes.

Catching a Fish at the Beach Bischoff
Catching a Fish at the Beach by Artist Franz A. Bischoff, Oil on Canvas, c. 1920


No photography is allowed of these “living pictures,” but a video has surfaced on YouTube of Catching Fish at the Beach by Laguna Beach artist Franz A. Bischoff at the Under the Sun production. Maybe revealing the secretive demonstration to the media is a new thing. I won’t put in the link. Seeing the painting made before you go will dampen some of the magic.

At the end as tradition stands, Leonardo di Vinci’s The Last Supper comes together. The apostles step up to the table then Jesus is helped up the steps. The audience is quiet. The life-size painting turns around and the frame is set in place. From behind me, the wife moans, “Oh. Oh. Oh. My. Goaah.” She’s in shock at what she sees. Then the husband says, “Oh Shit.” The young couple have been sipping margaritas for the past ninety minutes.

Pageant of the Masters is the show to see for all ages. Many locals haven’t gone. You are missing out. The natural setting of chaparral-covered hills on a warm night under the setting sun is a great way to create memories with your family and friends.

Opening Night is busy but we find street parking in front of the Sawdust. We feed $6.50 in quarters that lasts about four hours, but the meter takes credit cards too. There is a $7 pay lot on Laguna Canyon where you can take the trolley for free.

Be there or be square!

Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. Pageant Tickets: 1-800-487-3378. Performances nightly, beginning at 8:30 p.m.: July 7-September 1, 2018.

Copyright 2018 Melissa Crismon



The Little Little Mermaid

CSUF Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid at CSU, Fullerton. Photo by M.C.

The Little Mermaid has been getting a lot of play as of late. Last year I went to see a phenomenal high school production of the under the sea musical. The singers were amazing and set design and costume design too. So, I expected CSU, Fullerton’s production to be good. Their production of Little Women a few years back was great, but with CSUF the theatre can be hit or miss. Since CSUF’s The Little Mermaid was a miss, I’ll focus on the more entertaining parts.

First off it is opening night so things can go wrong in the beginning. Many of the singers sing off pitch, or are hard to hear, or one screams the high notes. Part of the problem may be the Little Theatre, which seems outdated and not as nice as the other theatres on the other side of the building. The singers may be having difficulty hearing themselves.

Timothy H. Lee (King Triton) has an enjoyable singing voice. Megan McCarthy (Ariel) and Evan Borboa (Prince Eric) have good chemistry. Borboa is a great hopeless romantic. During the song Les Poissons, Jacob Wayne (Chef), enjoys cutting off fish heads with a throaty French “Huh, huh, huh.” In his enthusiasm, his mustache flops half off. He turns his head to the side sans mustache and sings in a higher pitch then exposes the mustache side and sings in a deeper voice. It’s these moments why I love seeing college age theatre. There is always someone willing to play the clown.

When seeing a show at CSU, Fullerton see the shows in the newer theatres where the sound and seating are better. I still enjoyed the production. The Little Mermaid is a strong, romantic story, but for $25 a ticket I’ve seen better entertainment for less.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid • March 23 – April 15, 2018 • Little Theatre • Cal State University, Fullerton • College of the Arts • 800 North State College Blvd. Fullerton, CA 92831 (Parking is free on weekends starting on Friday at 5pm. Park in the Nutwood Parking Structure on Arts Drive. Also, show your high school or college I.D. to get in for $5.)

Copyright 2018 Melissa Crismon