I’ll admit it here. I’m a pageant mom. Not the “Toddlers and Tiaras” kind, thankfully, but a Pageant of the Masters pageant mom. And speaking of pageantry, we recently attended for the first time that spectacle of pageantry, Medieval Times. While these two performances are wildly different, both provide an unabashedly fun time for families.
Laguna’s beloved Pageant of the Masters is better than ever this summer with a very family-friendly show themed “Only Make Believe.” The pace seems livelier than some Pageants past, and includes popular artworks featuring familiar characters like Peter Pan and Alice (from Wonderland). If you’ve been pondering the correct summer to take the kids this is it.
The illusion at the Pageant (making 3-D people and sets look like flat 2-D paintings) means you don’t have to splurge on front row seats. Middle seats are the best. Here’s a tip: go weeknights and seek main tier side tickets close to the center aisles for the best bang for your buck. Bring binoculars, a jacket or blanket, and a snack or two, and go thinking you might leave at intermission. For the past several years, that’s how we’ve done it and I’m always pleasantly surprised when the girls want to stay for the second act (even if they have fallen asleep before the Last Supper.)
This year, if I may kvell (Yiddish for motherly bragging), Maggie is in the Pageant and she is loving every minute of it. She and her sister went to auditions in January. To say auditions is a misnomer. You really are there to get every part of your body measured not to show off any special skills or talent. Big sis Isabel is apparently a bit too tall for the many kids’ roles in this summer’s show, but Maggie is the correct size to be “The Dream, #2.”
Maggie takes her participation very seriously, from not forgetting her cast badge to carefully signing in each evening. When she is called in from the waiting area, she pops up and with barely a good-bye, struts in to be costumed and headdressed. I see her 30 minutes later via closed circuit TV when she is onstage and as still as I’ve ever seen her. The smile when she comes back to me makes the late night schlepping worth it.
A drive up the 5 on Carmageddon weekend was not a schlep; it took us just over 30 minutes to make it to Medieval Times in Buena Park. We were trying something new — dinner theater, complete with horses, knights in shining armor, and, yes, food meant to be eaten with your hands.
As a special guest of the castle, the handsome Sir William gave us a tour, and, ladies, you know that feeling you get when you take the kids on a tour of the fire station? Well, prepare for the same rush here.
Special this summer, Medieval Times has a knights-in-training program offered prior to Sundays 3:30 p.m. performance. Children ages 5 to 12 are invited to the arena floor to meet with the knights and participate in a lesson in chivalry (listen to your parents, the King admonished) and swordplay. Both girls were a bit intimidated at first, but after a few minutes were expertly following the knights’ instructions and looked ready to take on any evildoers.
After having a Burger King-type crown ceremoniously placed on our heads, we were escorted to the yellow and red knight’s section of the hall and promptly got swept up in the excitement of the performance. As you are served half a roast chicken and accompaniments sans utensils, a drama involving a peace treaty and a kidnapped Prince unfolds. There are beautiful horses performing trick steps, as well as a falconer, jousting, pageantry and heraldry.
I was able to forget the goofy crown on my head and happily waved my yellow and red flag in support of our knight as he battled for tournament supremacy. Alas, he was not the day’s champion, but peace was restored to the kingdom just as the apple pie was served.
Pageant of the Masters: Nightly through Aug. 31. www.PageantTickets.com.
Medieval Times, 7662 Beach Blvd, Buena Park. www.MedievalTimes.com/BuenaPark.
Drum roll, please…the winner of tickets to next week’s Ringling Bros. circus opening is Dorit Lessard. Thank you everyone who emailed.
Rebecca Meekma always knows something fun to do. She reminds everyone to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen all summer long.