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Get ready for ‘The Big Picture’ at Pageant

Get ready for ‘The Big Picture’ at Pageant

Festival of Arts members were treated to a preview of the theme for the 2013 Pageant of the Masters at the annual meeting.

Work began on the 80th anniversary of the pageant long before the 2012 season ended, but the theme was kept under wraps until the meeting. “The Big Picture” will be a tribute to motion pictures as an art, often inspired by masterpieces of the past.


The theme was announced by pageant Director Diane Challis Davy in a “trailer,” written by pageant script writer Dan Duling.

“Eighty years in the making, and featuring a cast of hundreds, ‘The Big Picture’ leaps off the screen and onto the stage and into your hearts,” read Challis Davy in a voice a couple of octaves lower than usual.


“Watch as 3-D becomes 2-D before your eyes. Experience ‘The Agony and The Ecstasy’ of creation and marvel at ‘The Day the Art Stood Still.’ And just keep telling yourself: ‘They’re alive! They’re alive!’

“This preview has been approved for audiences of all ages.”

Challis Davy said she conjured up the theme while bathing — a reference to legendary musical comedy director Busby Berkeley, who reportedly told a reporter that best ideas came to him in the tub and he wasn’t talking about hot tubs.

“Designers of both stage and screen look to paintings and sculpture for historical information and inspiration,” said Challis Davy, pageant director for 18 years. “I thought it would be a new twist for the pageant to look back at the work of the masters that inspired great works of cinema.”


After all, Challis Davy said, motion pictures are just a series of stills.

“In a way, tableau vivants were the original ‘freeze frames,’” Duling said. “Looking at masterpieces through the viewfinder of motions pictures provides fascinating food for thought.”

“The Big Picture” will showcase Michelangelo’s “Agony and Ecstasy,” the influence of Gainborough on Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock’s obsession with blonds.

Challis Davy will also pay tribute to the Chicago Art Institute for “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”


Memorable movie music will be incorporated in the show, snippets of which were shown in a preview film produced by staff member Jon Tschirgi, who also reprised the 2012 show on film for the meeting.

Challis Davy said the success of the pageant is due to the dedication of the volunteers and staff.

“I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who love the hard work it takes to produce a very elaborate show,” she said. “I get inspiration from the scriptwriter staff, composers and from the scores of research volunteers who come up with great suggestions.”

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