Pageant Unveils ‘The Time Machine’ This Weekend

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(front): Felicity Simko, 21, of Lake Forest, gets into position with the help of sculptor Daniel Stonebraker to depict “A Collection of Empire Clocks” in the Pageant of the Masters’ “The Time Machine.”

An array of 36 tableaux vivants—or living pictures—awaits those who choose to journey back in “The Time Machine,” which opens this Sunday, July 7. Presented by the Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach, the 2019 Pageant of the Masters runs through Aug. 31. Hundreds of volunteers will work to make the 90-minute pageant a reality, some stepping into famous works of art by artists like Vermeer, Dali, Rockwell and Da Vinci for a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience.

“‘The Time Machine’ will take audiences around the globe and into the past, present and future in search of great art and amazing stories. In a show that journeys through time and space, audiences can look forward to tributes to breakthroughs in both art and science,” pageant organizers said. “Highlights include an homage to American sculptor Malvina Hoffman for her groundbreaking anthropological exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History in 1933, as well as the 1913 Armory Show in New York, which marked the dawn of Modernism in America.”

Artist David Rymar puts the final touches on Steven Dohanos’ “Inflating Beach Toy.”

“To say this summer’s show is a very different pageant is an understatement,” said Diane Challis Davy, now in her 24th season as the pageant director. “The story line will bring audiences on a journey through a series of clues and instructions from a notebook inspired by a famous artist, a first in the pageant’s history.

“We don’t want to give away too many surprises, but some over-the-top innovations for this year include laser lights, an authentic 1959 Juke box and if you are paying attention, you may even see a UFO,” Challis Davy said. “If that wasn’t intriguing enough, taking to the stage is a canine companion named Leonardo. He will be joining the 500 volunteers and staff who help put on the unique and awe-inspiring production each year.”

The Pageant of the Masters has been a Laguna Beach tradition since the 1930s and now attracts over 140,000 patrons every summer. The first Pageant of the Masters in 1933 ran only eight days; today, the pageant puts on  56 performances.

The show is accompanied by original, live music by the pageant orchestra, with informative and engaging, live narration presented by Richard Doyle and written by Dan Duling. Long-time Pageant Technical Director Richard “Butch” Hill said he’s excited about advances in video production and special effects this year.

Kamryn Casazza, 15, of San Juan Capistrano, gets into position for Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s “The Vintage Festival.”

“The pageant has always been a kind of time machine for us,” Challis Davy said. “Studying and appreciating the world’s artworks—great and beloved—is the best and the only way to take a trip back in time.”

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, whose “Last Supper” has been the pageant’s traditional closing tableau since 1936.

“Prepare yourselves for an imaginative adventure, a plotline from start to finish, and a very surprising finale. Spoiler alert: Do not leave early!” Challis Davy said.

Performances take place nightly at 8:30 p.m. Tickets start at $15 per person. A pageant ticket also acts a season pass to the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show.

The Irvine Bowl at the Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

“A Collection of Empire Clocks” is one of the works featured in “The Time Machine.”
Mia Lepage, 15, of Laguna Beach, stifles a laugh while sitting next to David Greuel, 13, of San Clemente, before they take their places in Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s “The Vintage Festival.”
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