The Laguna Beach arts community is shocked and grieving at the sudden death of Lyle Brooks, who collapsed June 18 at a morning production meeting of the Pageant of the Masters. Brooks, 49, died of a massive heart attack, according to his widow, Terry.
Brooks was one of the sculptors in the Pageant show, which opens July 8. He was also a noted bon vivant and frequenter of the White House, where his wife works.
“I haven’t begun to accept or comprehend the loss of our dear comrade Lyle,” said Pageant Director Diane Challis Davy. “We are all in shock. He was an extraordinarily talented person: sculptor, painter, actor, photographer, calligrapher, bon vivant, chef, humorist and philosopher. That’s just a partial list.
“Lyle’s sculptural work for the Pageant was impeccable. He contributed so much fine work for the show. There are many wonderful examples of it in our workshops and on stage.”
Brooks was noted for sporting a long “mane” of silver and gold and a Tartan kilt, which was his costume of choice since a visit to Scotland several years ago. He was known for regaling his co-workers and friends with humorous stories and had a large storehouse of artistic trivia to draw on.
“In a timeless, almost Shakespearean way, he brought ‘merriment’ to the Pageant team,” Challis Davy said. “It was just a whole lot of fun being in his presence. We’ll all miss him so much.”
Brooks attended Mission Viejo High School and Saddleback College before pursuing a life in the theater.
He was the lead scenic artist at Laguna Playhouse from 1986 to 1991, and technical director of the Serendipity Theater Company. In 1995, he was called in to help out at the Pageant during “crunch time” — that stretch from May through June when pre-production spills over into nights and weekends. After that first season, he was invited back as Judith Ann Parker’s assistant in the sculpting department.
Brooks is survived by his mother and wife, and by his extended family of co-workers at the Pageant, who are dedicating this season to his memory.
A memorial mass is planned for 10 a.m., Thursday, July 23 in the Irvine Bowl on the Festival of Arts grounds, located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road.