Up Front I Around Town

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322Behind the Pageant Curtain

Auditions for the 80th annual Pageant of the Masters took place in January, drawing hundreds of aspiring actors from Southern California to the Irvine Bowl to compete for center stage.

You might think major mishaps are a common occurrence during a pageant production, with so many scene and costume changes among so many actors. “In my 33 years with Pageant of the Masters, I’ve only seen one fig leaf failure,” says director Diane Challis Davy. Oh yeah, and there was also that time a skunk got loose in the orchestra pit. But with so many volunteers committed to perpetuating the event’s outstanding reputation, things often run smoothly, albeit with a lot of preparation and work.

The first production in 1933 required only a small cast for its less-than-a-dozen “moving picture” scenes—and all were Lagunans. This year’s show, themed The Big Picture, opens July 7 and illustrates how art has informed and inspired the movies we all love. Here are some other fun backstage facts.

Crew required to run the pageant: 450 – 500 volunteers
Number of actor tryouts: 1,200
Those who make the cut: 500
Youngest cast member ever: 4 years old
Oldest cast member ever: late 80s
Costume and cosmetics crew: 100
First thing casting directors look at: height—the technical director determines how tall the cast members need to be for each role. Next, the casting director picks the best likeness.
Cast members who live in Laguna: 10 percent
Returning actors versus new actors each year: 50-50 —A.B.

Building Friendships Across Laguna


For 25 years, Laguna Beach’s Friendship Shelter—the only operator of homeless shelter programs in south Orange County—has saved lives and inspired hope for the homeless. An anniversary gala, monthly volunteer honoree and speaker series are among the new events marking the shelter’s silver anniversary. Additionally, the organization is calling for volunteers to host Friendship Shelter Dinners (formerly called Dinners Across Laguna), private fundraising events held in individuals’ homes centered on a culinary experience, during the month of April. Since its inception 21 years ago, the series has raised more than $1.5 million through 400-plus dinners.

“It is only because of the generosity of people who hosted those early dinners that Friendship Shelter has been able to accomplish so much,” says board member Bob Mister. “We’re proud about how far we’ve come and energized about the prospects for the future. [Dinners] not only raises funds, but also introduce new friends who can join us in this important work.” (friendshipshelter.org) —A.B.

Residence Fosters New Lives

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South Laguna will welcome roughly 50 new residents when the Glennwood House Foundation officially opens its doors in June, says Randy Larson, president and co-founder. The former assisted-living facility building located at 2130 S. Coast Hwy. will house young adults with developmental disabilities—its first inhabitants in more than five years.

“The location is just amazing,” Randy says. “Moss Point Beach—it is kind of my own quiet place. I would take Trevor [my son] there when he was young and let him play while I was reading. … I always thought that blue building would be awesome.”

The house is a longtime vision of Randy’s to secure safe, local and affordable housing for high-functioning young adults who are living with anything from autism to cerebral palsy to Down syndrome. To prepare for the new residents, renovations included erecting glass-enclosed balconies, ADA-compliant facilities and new railings. The facility will be co-ed with wheelchair residents on the first floor, males on the second and females on the third, as well as a residential adviser on each floor. The Glennwood house comes complete with a special Laguna Beach touch in the form of a mural done pro-bono on Jan. 19 by renowned sea life artist Robert Wyland, who Randy says is a “friend of a friend” willing to help out. —K.P.

A Permanent Place for LPAPA

The Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) is putting down roots at the Aliso Creek Inn—a permanent location for its artist members to present their work and host the annual Plein Air Painting Invitational, which until now was held at Laguna Art Museum (LAM). An extensive expansion and makeover makes the new space ideal for art exhibitions, says LPAPA President Greg Vail. “Staging the Invitational in the majestic natural setting of Aliso Canyon—the ‘Yosemite’ of Laguna Beach—is a perfect match and inspiration for the plein-air genre,” he says. “After 13 years of collaboration with LAM, we have the opportunity and challenge to host one of North America’s premier plein-air art events as an independent entity, one of the key objectives of LPAPA’s strategic plan.” —A.B.

Paving the Way for Women

Laguna author Lorraine Passero’s new biography, “Clara Mason Fox” (Mill City Press, amazon.com), aptly titled after its subject, shares the life of a young woman who moved to Silverado Canyon from Illinois with her family in 1887. The youngest of three children, growing up in a time when few women were college-educated, couldn’t vote, and “had no identity of their own,” Clara accomplished many “firsts” in her 85 years. Considered the first schoolteacher in Silverado, she later moved to Laguna Beach where she was an early artist (her landscapes and portraits are currently on display in the Huntington Beach Public Library), a poet and author of books about local history. An inspiration to all women—the kind page-turners are made of—Clara’s life is especially intriguing to the author, whose husband (Laguna sculptor Jon Seeman) is the protagonist’s great-great nephew. —A.B.

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The Good Spirits of Laguna

The annual Spirit of Laguna Award winners were announced at Tivoli Too!, along with the board of directors for the 2013 Chamber of Commerce, on Jan. 25. The awards are given each year to honor Chamber of Commerce members who have made positive impacts on the community in the past year. Here are the good-spirited winners: Business of the Year: Marine Room; Volunteer of the Year: Luciano Stefanini; Citizen of the Year: Jane and Paul Egly; Green Enterprise of the Year: Laguna County Water District; Building Industry of the Year: Gregg Abel Construction & Design; Non-Profit of the Year: Laguna Beach Community Foundation; Restaurant of the Year: Nick’s – Laguna Beach; Government Official of the Year: Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson; City Professional of the Year: Principal planner Monica Tuchscher; Retail Store of the Year: Laguna Beach Books; Gallery of the Year: Peter Blake Gallery; Professional Service of the Year: Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach Emergency Room; Board Member of the Year: Debbie MacDonald (Tommy Bahama). —K.P. 

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Out With the New, in With the Old …

Mayor, that is. Kelly Boyd, elected in November for his second term as mayor of Laguna Beach, says he’s first focusing on a few major issues: In addition to improving the city’s View Preservation Ordinance (which currently states that residents may file a claim against their neighbors to trim their foliage, only after they’ve begged to no avail), better parking and a year-round trolley service are also on the agenda, as well as the long-debated Village Entrance project. For city council updates, visit lagunabeachindy.com. —A.B.

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Laguna Couple Gives Back

Laguna Beach residents who are also parents to two young boys are giving back to the community that they love, hoping that their philanthropy values will pass down to their children in the future. Nicole and Peter Anderson established a donor-advised fund at the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, which connects donor passions with nonprofit needs in Laguna Beach and across the country.

“Peter and I want to be role models for our kids, and we think it’s important to show them you have to give back,” says Nicole, an estate attorney, who also serves on the board of trustees for the Laguna Beach Community Foundation and the Laguna College of Art & Design, as well as holds the role as vice president of the Laguna Beach Business Club and contributes as a member of the Laguna Beach Professional Alliance.

The Andersons donate annually to their fund, in which the money that they give is distributed to nonprofits or organizations of their choosing. “I love Laguna Beach, and if you want to keep it the way it is, you have to support your community,” Nicole says. —A.T. LBM









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