A make-believe world

As a child, the fairy tales and stories that shape your imagination seem to come to fruition by the perseverance of your own creativity. However, with this year’s Pageant of the Masters — titled “Only Make Believe” — “Alice in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan,” “Arabian Nights” and other childhood stories come to life right before your eyes.

On Tuesday, the media got a sneak peek of the 78th Pageant at the Festival of the Arts — which begins July 7 — watching makeup artists work their magic, seeing the actors’ wardrobes and chatting with the volunteers who let the theatrical art production carry on year to year.

The first glimpse the group got was of Alice of “Alice in Wonderland.” Two playing cards turned to reveal the girl in two scenes, one with a turtle and another with the dodo, played by Emma Kalb, 6, and Milan Pekarek, 7. Standing only a few feet away, it was exciting trying to decipher between the real and the “art.”

Although Richard Doyle, the new voice of the Pageant, has been an actor in Orange County for more than four decades, he was feasting his eyes on scenes from the production for the first time that night.


“I’ve had a chance to work on the text for five or six months now and to help them with some of the preparation,” he said. “I’m amazed by it frankly and I haven’t even seen it yet.”

An experienced voice-over artist, Doyle has never live-narrated a show before.

“In addition to being a narrator… you’re kind of part of the evening, as well,” he said. “You’re more of a storyteller than anything and that is kind of exciting to me because of the nature of it, ‘Only Make Believe,’ is storytelling.”

Director Diane Challis Davy has been planning for this year’s production for more than a year and is excited about the opportunities this theme offers.


“I was really interested in the idea that an artist doesn’t necessarily need to paint from life,” she said. “They can paint from their own imagination.”

Producers put their imagination to the test with special effects this year, Challis Davy said, and spectators can expect some “magical effects” that might surprise pageant-goers.

Invited backstage, wardrobe artists, makeup artists and headpiece makers greeted inquisitive patrons.

Reagan Foy — costume, crafts and headpiece maker at the Pageant — said a headpiece can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to make. Once the cast is chosen, she sculpts the shapes to the actors’ heads, later painting and transforming them into Peter Pan’s green cap or a princess’ hairpiece.

Diana Reynolds, 17, was one of many volunteers who struck a pose during the night. No stranger to the stage, this is the fifth pageant for the Santa Margarita High School junior.

“My dad is in it and it’s just a family thing,” she said as a makeup artist transformed her into character, applying white to her face and defining shadows on her eyes and cheeks. “It’s just become our life during the summer.”

She also mentioned she was excited about her scene — which involves dragons, wolves and girls in hoods — because it’s especially colorful.

The Pageant of the Masters runs through Aug. 31. The California Premier Fine Art Show also starts July 3. The Festival of the Arts offers a multitude of events that accompany your ticket purchase, such as Jazz on the Green, Art in Motion and the Art of Cooking.


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