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Sneak peek of 'Merry'

Audience gets a taste of Pageant of the Masters' works for this year's Festival of Arts.

June 13, 2010|By Barbara Diamond | Special to the Daily Pilot
(Don Leach )

The Pageant of the Masters opened the curtain on the Festival of Arts 2010 season Monday night with a sneak preview of "Eat, Drink and Be Merry," the theme of the 77th show, which opens July 7.

Pageant Director Diane Challis Davy had the theme of the new production picked even before the economy tanked. But the economy made the theme of human resiliency more timely.

"In tough times, most of us could use some art entertainment that's just for the fun of it," Challis Davy said.

More than 80 volunteers and script writer Dan Duling participated in the research for the tableaux vivants, which are life imitating art with live models posing as the subjects of paintings and sculpture.

The original painting for one of this year's tableaux was found on the Festival Grounds: "Coffee and Donuts," by Scott Moore, a past president of the festival and an exhibitor for 31 years.

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"Dan and Sharbie [Public Relations Director Higuchi] and I were walking the grounds looking for pieces and I saw Scott's and said 'That's a pageant painting and it ties into the theme,'" Challis Davy said.

The painting, done in 2009, features a man in a business suit reading his morning paper, minimized by giant doughnuts and a paper cup of coffee.

It was all the more impressive to those who saw the slender young man being fitted by volunteers into his painted muslin costume back stage with a clothespin in the back of the jacket to take up the slack.

"I have been a volunteer for five years," said Erica Waidley, who showed off pieces of other costumes being prepared for the show.

Moore's painting was one of the four tableaux staged Monday. "Prince's Day" by Jan Steen, one of Challis Davy's favorite artists, "BON-TON Burlesque Poster " and "Etruscan Dancers from the Tomb of the Leopards" were also featured.

James Chambless of Tustin was one of the dancers.

"This is the fourth show I have been in," Chambless said. "My mother wanted to audition and I came with her. I got in and she didn't.

"The first one I did was 'The Chess Game,' with me and six girls. My mom said it suited me perfectly."

Chambless is one of 357 cast members, 178 in the Green Cast and 179 in the Blue Cast that alternate.

The 535 volunteers that make the show possible will work straight though the 2010 season — and many of them have been at it in the shops where scenes, makeup, costumes and props are designed and constructed almost since the 2009 show ended.

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