Pageant of the Masters On-Site Casting Call Draws Volunteers From All Over

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Preparations for the 2023 Pageant of the Masters are full steam ahead. This past weekend, Pageant officials held a three-day on-site casting call for this year’s theme: Art Colony: In the Company of Artists. If you missed it, never fear. There’s still time to participate.

The Durham family wait to have their photos taken during the Pageant of the Masters on-site casting call on Jan. 8. Photo/Clara Beard

People of all sizes and ages are needed to be cast members in the world’s most famous presentation of tableaux vivants, and no theater experience is necessary. The only requirement is the ability to stand still and have fun. Volunteers have a summer commitment of one week on and one week off for a total of about three weeks.

A volunteer has his measurements taken during the Pageant of the Masters audition. The casting call saw almost 700 participants go through the 15-minute process. Photo/Clara Beard

Pageant of the Masters Director Diane Challis Davy’s role, among many things, is the monumental task of picking the Pageant’s yearly theme. A Laguna Beach High School alumna and co-valedictorian, Challis Davy was awarded a Festival of Arts scholarship in art and drama. While in college, she volunteered to be a Pageant cast member.

“All year, I’m dreaming about what we could put on stage,” she said. “And this year, we chose Art Colony, especially because 2023 will mark the ninetieth anniversary of living pictures in Laguna Beach and the Pageant. We’ve got lots of new art to recreate this year and many new pieces, and it’s packed with over 40 pieces of art in total. So it’s a big undertaking.”

The on-site casting call for the ninetieth anniversary of the Pageant of the Masters took place Jan 6-8. Photo/Clara Beard

Challis Davy calls the volunteer experience rewarding and memorable.

“You’ll be performing in front of 2,600 people,” she said. “That’s pretty exciting.”

Volunteers come from all over Orange County, sometimes traveling as far as Los Angeles or San Diego to take part.

“When the Pageant first started 90 years ago, it was primarily a Laguna Beach community event,” said Sharbie Higuchi, Festival of Arts Marketing/PR Director. “And now, over the years, it’s definitely growing fast. We have volunteers that come from all over.”

For some cast hopefuls, the audition will be their first. For others, trying out for the show is an annual tradition. Typically, about 40 percent of cast members have been in the show before.

“It is common to see several generations of the same family volunteering for different aspects of the show,” Higuchi said. “Not only is it a great way to spend your summer with friends and loved ones, but also, by volunteering for the Pageant, students can earn credit towards community service requirements.”

At last weekend’s casting call, about 700 prospective cast members were measured and photographed. Refreshments were served, and those in attendance had the opportunity to meet the Pageant’s creative and technical staff.

If behind-the-scenes work is more your style, the Pageant is still looking for volunteers to help with wardrobe, makeup, and headdress departments, as well as cast area coordinators and refreshment servers, among other positions.

“We need roughly about 500 volunteers in total, not only to be in the show but also backstage,” Higuchi said. “We teach volunteers how to apply makeup as makeup artists. We also need volunteers to help in the costume department, be runners, or make sure people are where they need to be at a particular time. So there are various roles. You don’t have to be on stage if you want to volunteer.”

To make an audition appointment, contact the Pageant of the Masters Casting Department at (949) 494-3663.

The Pageant of the Masters is celebrating its 90th-anniversary next summer with the production Art Colony: In the Company of Artists, with shows nightly from July 7 – September 1, 2023. Advance tickets are now on sale, starting at $35 per person. To stay up to date on all things Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, follow the Festival at @FestivalPageant and visit www.foapom.com.

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