Pageant unveils a 'Genius' piece of work

The 2012 Pageant of the Masters debuted "The Genius" last weekend with a special VIP showing Friday and a sold-out performance at its official opening night Saturday.

Director Dianne Challis Davy had previously hinted at what was to come — a nod to the famed artists and minds that contributed to the collective conscious, and the link between art and science.

However, many who watched the special performance Friday night found the show to be out of this world — literally.

Without spoiling the show, the theatrics this year were the hot topic of conversation after the curtains closed on "The Last Supper," with many pointing to it as a reason this year's pageant trumps others.

An aria sung by soprano Ani Maldjian caught many onlookers by surprise.

"This show was one of the most technically challenging for us, and I'm pleased to say what I have been hearing from the audience is very gratifying," Challis Davy said in an email. "The special effects are better than I had imagined they would be."

Angelina Cech, 20, said the theatrical moments were her favorite. Her friend, Sebastian McDaniel, 19, said he's going to recommend it to others.

"The Genius" theme touched on works by Vincent van Gogh, Norman Rockwell, Michelangelo, Samuel F.B. Morse, also the inventor of Morse code, and bronze statues such as Douglas Tilden's "The Mechanics Monument" and "Cycle of Life" by Paul Manship. Great minds of the time, such as Galileo and Copernicus were depicted in pieces by Cesare Detti and Jan Matejko.

Joanne Fraze, of Dana Point, noted that the pageant added new cinematic elements, such as photographs, to the storytelling.

"I think they tied it all together," she said. "It was very magical. I loved the music too."

Megan Weddington, of Irvine, said she liked the fact that they included behind-the-scenes features, such as the making of Winslow Homer's painting, "Breezing up."

Maddie Page, 19, came from Irvine to see the pageant for the second time and said it surpassed her expectations.

"I thought it was even better than last year," she said.

For more information about the Pageant of the Masters, visit

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