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Pageant of the Masters preview transports viewers through time

A gold statue draped in finery held her hand on a globe atop a short clock tower. At first glance, it could simply seem like an opulent mantelpiece. But on closer inspection, one might see the statue’s eyes blink or lips quiver.

The scene isn’t a real sculpture at all but rather a girl dressed in gold from head to toe, standing in tableaux.

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The Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach, home to the annual Pageant of the Masters, gave media members a glimpse Monday of its upcoming summer show, “The Time Machine,” which — like other productions in the pageant’s more than 80-year tradition — features volunteer cast members posing in life-size re-creations of famous artworks. They must hold still for 90-second viewings before the curtain descends and the next piece is rolled out.

This year’s theme centers on the concept of time, with several representations of timepieces or artworks from far in the past.

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A flurry of activity filled the Festival of Arts grounds Monday night as makeup artists painted the cast and actors donned costumes then took their positions on the sets.

The first tableaux, Johannes Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson” from the 1660s, showed a young girl learning to play an instrument under the watchful eye of a teacher. The second, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s “The Vintage Festival,” staged five cast members in a colorful party scene. The final preview piece, “A Collection of Empire Clocks,” featured three settings of statues with elaborate clocks.

The Pageant of the Masters will open July 7 and run at 8:30 p.m. daily through Aug. 31 at the Irvine Bowl at the Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Tickets are on sale at PageantTickets.com.

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