Breathing life into art: Rehearsals for Pageant of the Masters are heating up

The Pageant of the Masters, presented by Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts, is heating up the beachside community with preparations and rehearsals underway for the highly-anticipated 2018 production of “Under the Sun.” 

Celebrating its 85th anniversary, the 2018 Pageant of the Masters will amaze audiences nightly July 7 - September 1 with 90 minutes of tableaux vivants. These “living pictures” are re-creations of classical and contemporary works of art with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. Tickets are available now at

“We started work on pre-production for “Under the Sun” in October 2017. Currently we are building different sets each week, and conducting dress rehearsals every Thursday night for 3-4 set pieces,” said Richard “Butch” Hill, Technical Director and Lighting Designer for the Pageant. “This will be my 34th year with the Pageant and the passion and dedication from the designers, volunteers, make-up artists, Pageant Director, and everyone involved truly shows in the masterpieces created.”

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Pageant Sculptor Daniel Stonebreaker (far right) helps volunteer cast members (left to right) Sunshine Iller of Lake Forest, Ferne Ames of Laguna Beach and Caroline Reese of Ladera Ranch, into their poses at a rehearsal for the 2018 Pageant of the Masters

Since opening in 1933, the Pageant has welcomed approximately 500 volunteers each year who eagerly contribute more than 60,000 hours of their time in total. Many staff members, like Butch, have worked with Pageant of the Masters for decades, creating a family-reunion-like environment that attracts mass numbers of volunteers and crowds to learn, appreciate and perform in the fine arts. The volunteers vary in ages with the youngest volunteer at just four years old, and the oldest in his late 80s.

Every Thursday night through June, staff and volunteers gather in the Irvine Bowl studying details from stage lighting to specific pose placement, and unique make-up art to complicated set designs. Volunteer actors fill the backstage area during rehearsals, along with Allyson Doherty, Makeup Director, who coaches the make-up volunteers with step-by-step tutorials on how to transform the actors into living art. To complete the final picture, Costume Director Reagan Foy and her team help cast members into their costumes and make final adjustments.

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Scene from Under the Sun: Garden Wall

The Director, Diane Challis Davy, selects the pieces in the Pageant and oversees pre-production and each rehearsal to perfect the living pictures and transform their presentation, with help from the Pageant staff, into a full production with music, narration and backdrops.

In the 2018 Pageant of the Masters, “Under the Sun,” theatrical magic, live music and light-hearted storytelling will honor masterpieces including work by Leonardo da Vinci, Kleitsch, Rosenthal, Monet, Kuntz, Sargent, and Wasil. Staying with tradition, the finale of the Pageant will feature Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”

The Pageant of the Masters runs July 7 - September 1 with advance tickets now available starting at $15 per person. A Pageant ticket is also a season pass to the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show. 

The 2018 Festival of Arts Fine Art Show will take place in conjunction with the Pageant of the Masters, July 5 - September 1, with general admission tickets starting at $10 per person. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Suzie’s ARTiculation

The 2018 Pageant of the Masters, “Under the Sun,” delivers an endless summer of Laguna-style fun


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Everything “Under the Sun” in Laguna has been considered for this year’s Pageant, with the theme a tribute to our town’s creative heritage as an artists’ colony as well as a recognition of its contributions to the surf culture – and the show features the quintessential origins of the Missions in addition to some of the most iconic works throughout time. 

It doesn’t get any better than this. Now celebrating its 85th anniversary of masterfully bringing works of art to life, the Pageant of the Masters is a true treasure. 

Laguna’s history as an artist colony will take center stage, illustrated in works by some of the founders, including creative masters William Griffith, Edgar Payne, Anna Althea Hills and Joseph Kleitsch, to mention a few, spanning to a work by current Festival exhibitor, Jorge Fernandez, a 2010 bronze piece, “From the Beginning,” which aptly opens Act I.

I can’t count how many years I’ve been to the press preview event of the Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, but it’s truly magical, unique, and awe inspiring. 

To experience the behind-the-scenes action, see the inner workings of each specific department and all the different facets and detail that go into each recreated artwork and each Pageant – it’s fascinating beyond belief. 

the 2018 Flag Festival

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A recreation of “Flag Raising Over Irvine,” kicked off the evening a 1946 Pageant tableaux, which symbolized this year’s return of the American flag at the Festival

Technical Director Butch Hill in his 34th year puts it all together with his choreography of lights and movement – a major challenge, as all moving pieces must be synchronized just right.

“We have some beautiful colorful pieces this year and a lot of landscapes, very impressionistic local work,” Hill said. “The whole story that we’re going to tell in the first act is awesome. Just the history of Laguna and art. It’s super colorful.” 

The Pageant is featuring a lot of paintings this year. 

“So the lights are tied into the set design. When I am thinking of the set design I have to think of how it’s going to work within the set,” Hill said.

To get the lighting down for all the pieces Hill said it takes about two rehearsals for each piece; which is what they’ve been doing since February.

Reagan Foy, Costume Director, explained that the costumes are all made out of muslin, a finely-woven cotton fabric, introduced to Europe from the Middle East in the 17th century. The costumes are all painted using a textile paint to look like the pieces, and fit both sets of cast members.

the 2018 cool orange crates

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Seeing the cast in the living pictures up close is always exciting, “The Orange Crate Labels” are deliciously fantastic, a sure crowd pleaser

“With the ‘Under the Sun’ theme, we have a lot of sunbathers, and people at the beach,” Foy said. “One of the most challenging pieces we did this year for costumes was ‘Surfriders’ because we had to manipulate the body shapes to be a little bit different than the average person. So it’s a lot of foam pieces that we cut and created those extreme shapes on the bodies.”

Each costume is about a week’s worth of work between cutting the patterns, building the costumes, fitting a cast member, making alterations, and bringing a cast member back in for a second fitting.

 “It’s a challenge in and of itself. It becomes a lot of manipulating and draping on our cast members and once they’re in the set, figuring out where we need to manipulate the fabric either by putting in darts or putting Velcro in pieces to something on the set or other pieces of the costume so we really get that movement,” Foy explained. “Plus in addition to that our painters really help us out with all of those paintbrush strokes in there to really get that movement as well.”

Director extraordinaire Dee Challis Davy said her favorite works this year are, “Pleasures of the Beach-Mosaic by Millard Sheets. Public Mural art in Santa Monica. A very challenging piece to reproduce. The music to accompany is “Surf’s Up” by Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks.”

She enjoys some of the short vignettes in this year’s show, and “a very fun and rousing end of Act 1.”

Watching the sculptors work, I can tell the completed Serra Chapel Retablo is going to be sensational.

“We have recreated it twice in the past,” Challis Davy said. “This time it is presented on our turntable stage and is preceded by a procession of Father Serra on the “Camino Real.”

the 2018 rymar scenic

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David Rymar (pictured) and David Cooke are just remarkable at recreating the original works into sets

Scriptwriter Dan Duling is also masterful at his work.

“Themes make the research just that much more fun because even if we were to select a piece we’d done before, we’d be looking at presenting it in a different context, perhaps from a completely different angle, and always with a vision of its place within the entire production,” Duling said. 

He explained that much must be taken into account since every second of the Pageant involves so much work by every department. 

“It’s a daunting task that’s still fun after all these years (this is the 38th Pageant script I’ve written) because of my pride in what we’ve managed to accomplish and the thrill of being part of such a unique production,” Duling said. “Dee and I remain united in our commitment to making the show as theatrically exciting and fresh as possible for both our returning audiences and a new generation of audiences we hope will want to come back again.”

the 2018 builder POM

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Showing how the works are put together with the cast, and how it’s assembled, is called “the builder” and is a definite fan favorite

He added, “But, as always, the Pageant remains a win-win, because by being able to celebrate their works and in many cases introduce them to audiences who may not have known about them before, we’re adding to their creative legacies.”

Creative indeed.

Not only was the sun shining on the Irvine Bowl, the evening also threw a spotlight on the new Terra restaurant, which is phenomenal. 

“I saw this hidden treasure and I fell in love with it and I said I have to do something to show this magnificent piece of art in the City. [We looked around for historic items only] to find we had this beautiful, magnificent artwork just sitting and hidden [right here]. And I am so happy to bring it out and show it,” said Mo Honarkar. “And that’s my gift to the city.”

the 2018 terra

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The extraordinary new Terra restaurant is a phenomenal feast for the senses 

“Dora [Wexell Orgill] is part of the team, so is my daughter Hasty, so is Mark [Orgill], and you know I couldn’t be successful without a good team. I am very appreciative of them,” Honarkar added.

The juried Festival of Arts features 140 artists who work in a spectrum of art mediums. Plus guests enjoy a chockfull menu of art workshops, classes, concerts, and special events at the Festival.

The Pageant of the Masters runs nightly at 8:30 p.m. from July 7 to September 1. Advance tickets are $15 to $260. Tickets sell fast so it’s best to get them early.

The Pageant is located on the Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road. For information and tickets visit or call (949) 494-1145 or (800) 487-3378.

Suzie’s ARTiculation

Music in the Park – the community’s favorite summer concert series says sayonara for the season Sunday


Photos by Scott Brashier

Last dance, last chance to enjoy Laguna’s best kept secret, the favorite Sunday summer ritual know as Music in the Park will end another sensational season this Sunday with SantanaWays, a Santana tribute band, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Bluebird Park.

For many locals, the popular community concert series is a highlight of the summer, a shared tradition for friends and family since 1983, established as a passion project by the late Doris Shields when she served on the City’s Arts Commission.

That first year, Shields had a month to put the inaugural concert together. To facilitate, she called on Leigh Unger, a harpsichordist and music professor at Fullerton College at the time. He was able to gather some of his students and fellow musicians to perform in the first concert.

A lot has changed from those days. Now, the community can thank the Arts commissioners, the Cultural Arts Department, and namely Siân Poeschl, the City Cultural Arts Manager, for making the popular series what it is today. 

“I feel incredibly fortunate to work and live in a community that appreciates the importance of music to our lives. But Music in the Park goes far beyond that, it’s an opportunity to see friends and neighbors, share food, stories, to dance and hang out as a community,” Poeschl said. “That’s very rare and should not be understated as to its importance.” 

music in the one

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Families and friends love to gather at Music in the Park, a local favorite summer tradition since 1983

In 1994, Music in the Park Inc. formed and entered into a public private partnership with the City in 1995 through 2005. The Arts Commission has funded the concerts through the Business Improvement District since 2005.

The concert series started with three concerts at Nita Carman Park. Only four bands played and 30 people came that first summer. Traffic noise was an issue, so the next year, Bluebird Park became its fitting home. 

After the new digs were found, a berm was built for performers. Poeschl kindly gave me a bit of music history, Music in the Park history:

--From 1984 – 1987 the number of concerts increased to four and were held from late June through September.

--In 1986, a sound system was introduced for amplified sound.

--Two years later concerts increased to five with an estimated 800 – 1,000 attendance.

--From 1989 – 1990 the concerts increased to six.

--The following three years the concerts were increased to seven and ran from late July through September.

--The following decade, from 1994 – 2004, eight concerts were held each summer.

--But in 2005, the number of concerts was reduced to seven.

“The concerts are a community orientated event, in a community park setting,” Poeschl said. “Since 2000 a professional audio company has been hired to do the sound. Decibel levels are recorded every 15 minutes throughout the concert.”

Both funded by the City, the beloved sculpture “Laguna Tortoise” was installed by Michele Taylor in 2003 and “Bluebird Park Gate” was installed by Jon Seeman. 

music in the tortoise

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Michele Taylor’s ‘Laguna Tortoise’ is a favorite public art piece adored by people of all ages at Bluebird Park

To find the best entertainment, the Arts Commission reviews hundreds of bands starting in January. Although some concerts are more popular than others, attendance has remained the same over the last five years around 800 to 1,000.

“We are very appreciative to the Bluebird Park neighbors and because of this we encourage audience members to be respectful of where they park,” Poeschl said.

The rules: No dogs are ever allowed at Bluebird Park; there is no smoking in any Laguna Beach park; no set up before 3 p.m.; no open alcohol is allowed outside the park; alcohol is allowed with a meal; no umbrellas are allowed up; and bring only low beach chairs, so that everyone can enjoy the concert. 

“Facilitating Music in the Park requires the collaboration of the Public Works, Police and Cultural Arts Departments,” Poeschl said. “Although the concerts look effortless, it takes months of planning and organization.”

Poeschl has been working with Rick Weirs from Public Works since she started running the series 20 years ago. Last year, Mike McGregor, Arts Program Coordinator, was added to the team.

music in the dancing

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Dancing, laughing, fun and merriment abound at Music in the Park

“Every concert is attended by a member of the Arts Commission, you will see them at the gate handing out the schedule, or hear them introduce the band,” Poeschl said.

Longtime Arts Commissioner Pat Kollenda lauds the series and what it brings to our community.

“MIP is a gift to our wonderful town. I’ve been involved for 25 years and been amazed at how it has grown and how much it is cherished by our ‘Lagunatics,’” Kollenda said. “I am also very proud of the collaboration between City Departments and the support of our City Council! and, of course, much gratitude to Sian Poeschl.” 

The concerts follow the rules of the City’s noise ordinance. To address the concerns of neighbors, the City guaranteed the concerts would be concluded by 7 p.m. with no exception. Although, at every concert, Poeschl or staff get guff from people wanting the bands to play longer. But that’s not an option if locals want the series to continue as they are.

“It is important to retain the community feel of the event, to have generations of family and friends spend two hours together enjoying a variety of live music,” Poeschl said.

music in the musician

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Catch the final Music in the Park Concert on Sunday to savor the sounds

The City funds and presents 16 free concerts – two World Music, seven Music in the Park, and seven Sunset Serenades, which kicks off for the fall with jazz vocalist Valerie Geason at Heisler Park Amphitheater on Friday, Sept 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Until next time…so many City concerts to enjoy, so little time!

Newest public art installation “Changing Station” inspires viewers to “Be a hero any way you can”


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

On one side of the Forest Avenue art installation “Changing Station” by local Artist Robert Holton is a list of inspirational quotes, one being, “There is a Superhero in all of us, we need the courage to put on the cape.”

Newest public Holton

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Artist Robert Holton 

Holton says, “I pitched this idea to the Arts Commission because of the connection of the phone booth and Superman, that’s where he changed and emerged as a superhero. I applied to the Arts Commission two years ago, and I came in third out of 20. So this year, I pitched it again. The sayings on the side are positive affirmations. There is so much insecurity and drama in town, this is an inspiration that each of us can be a hero in the smallest of ways.”

Newest public quotes

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Inspirational quotes

Holton has owned his sign business, One Day Signs, Inc. for over 20 years. He has exhibited for five years at the Sawdust Festival – Drizzle Art by Robert Holton depicts pop culture icons that are digitally printed onto stretched canvas, then hand-painted using Robert’s “drizzle” technique. The final paintings are bright, colorful, fun, and often very meaningful to viewers who find their own unique links to the friendly imagery.

Newest public dog

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Robert with his dog dressed as a superhero, Heidi Miller, and Robert’s wife Marita

Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl says, “It is important to have a diversity in the temporary art installation experience, both in content and duration and the combination of national and local artists. It is this diversity and opportunity that brings an energy and uniqueness to the experience of public art, and just for a fleeting moment you get to enjoy it, before it is gone. Robert Holton’s proposal was one of 25 submitted designs and I am excited for him to have had this opportunity to participate in his own community.”

Newest public Whalen

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Mayor Bob Whalen and Robert Holton 

In attendance for the dedication of the installation, Lorraine, who is visiting from London where phone booths are a staple, says, “The use of British phone booths with the comic superheroes is amazing, a good juxtaposition.”

Super Eddy, owner of Melrose Place just up from the phone booth, said the installation is “powerfully endowed.”

With a crowd of enthusiastic onlookers in attendance, Arts Commission Chair Michael Ervin dedicated the booth to the beauty of superheroes.

Newest public Heidi

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Heidi Miller, a true Wonder Woman 

Dressed as Wonder Woman, Heidi Miller, owner of Tight Assets, said, “I think it’s all about superheroes, but all of us are heroes in our own way. We forget that sometimes. This installation reminds us that we are.” Spoken as a true hero who donated one of her kidneys last year to save a life. 

In congratulating Holton on this vision of the phone booth, Mayor Bob Whalen said, “This is the first local artist selected. Holton sells at Sawdust. It’s great to have a local artist represented. Including this one, there are 18-20 temporary installations. The Arts Commission is on a roll.”

Newest public food

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Reception courtesy of Ashley Johnson of Visit Laguna Beach

In response to being honored, Holton said, “Thanks to the City and Arts Commission for choosing me. I moved here years ago, and when I would drive by the booth, I pictured Superman changing and then flying out. Although I’ve come from the sign making background, I’ve never made a fist like this before. It represents superheroes flying out of roof. It’s especially important in this time of negativity. We all need to be kinder or be a hero, even in a small way. My wife Marita says, ‘be a hero in any way you can.’”

So, hopefully, when passing the phone booth, we will all be inspired to “put on the cape” and be a hero in some modest way.

Courtesy of President & CEO of Visit Laguna Beach Ashley Johnson, following the dedication, a reception was held in the Visitors Center.

LCAD’s art takes center stage at the 28th Annual Collectors’ Choice (not so) Silent Auction


Photos by Jeff Rovner

No one stayed silent about their love of art – and appreciation for LCAD – at Laguna College of Art + Design’s 28th Annual Collector’s Choice Silent Auction last Friday night. Artists, patrons and community members poured into [seven-degrees] for a festive night of live jazz, seasonal bites, cocktails and, of course, lots of art. The proceeds benefited the college, supporting its students and programs, and helped fund the $2.5 million in scholarships the school awards each year.

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Not only the art was colorful at the Collectors’ Choice Gala

LCAD faculty, alumni and other celebrated professional artists offered up oils, charcoals, photographs and sculptures. There were watercolors, wooden boxes, and blown glass. As guests gathered, sipped and ate, one woman painted another’s portrait onto her canvas in the corner of the room. 

There’s plenty to love about Laguna Beach, but the LCAD event summed up one of my favorite things about our town: this community is authentically passionate. Art auctions have the potential to feel pretentious. For someone like me, who barely knows her Jasper Johns from her Jackson Pollocks, that can be intimidating. Yes, this town appreciates art. But, more importantly, people just dig it. You can feel the difference between folks who are politely supportive and those who are sincerely passionate. 

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Artist in action at the Collectors’ Choice Gala

I pulled LCAD’s president, Jonathan Burke, aside to talk about this. Burke has been with LCAD for 38 years, serving in various capacities as professor, dean and president. He embodies passion, and he’s focused on making LCAD one of the premiere art institutes in the United States. He explains that recently, the live auction (held this year at Montage Resort) is now separate from the silent event, giving guests on each occasion an entirely different experience. For serious collectors, or donors looking for a more extravagant evening, Montage Laguna Beach provides that ambience. But Burke is committed to making art available to everyone.

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LCAD’s president, Jonathan Burke, addresses guests

“We wanted to have a party in town and make it more accessible,” says Burke. “We brought the price point down to embrace more of the community. The artists here love the college and want to donate.” Burke himself donated a piece, as he does every year, often to both the silent and live auction, and sometimes more than one. 

As the evening wound down, I watched people pick up their art. Couples talked about where new pieces would hang. A man was hurrying to bring the car around, having won three wooden boxes. He’d lost a few paintings he wanted, but he still looked like a little boy on Christmas morning, triumphant and giddy. The artists watched their work going off to new homes, elated they made someone happy. 

And LCAD is now able to do more of what it does best . . . produce another generation of artists who instill this passion and carry the torch for art. 

That circle of love for art sums up what it feels like to live in Laguna.

To view more of Jeff Rovner’s outstanding photographs, click on the gallery below. Jeff will be exhibiting his fine art photography at the Festival of Arts for the second year this summer. The theme of his exhibit is Cirque Noir.


Art Museum publishes tribute to artist Marcia Hafif, 1929-2018

The news of Marcia Hafif’s death has saddened us all. She was a good friend to the museum, and in 2015 we had the privilege of presenting an exhibition of her paintings. 

Marcia considered an exhibition to be a work of art in itself, and the experience of discussing, designing, installing, and lighting the show, along with the production of the accompanying book, was an education in the aesthetics of perfection. 

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Courtesy LAM website

Exhibition of Marcia Hafif’s work

Knowing and working closely with an artist of her stature was an honor made all the more memorable by her graciousness, her humor, and the sheer liveliness of her mind. 

Although she made her reputation on the east coast and in Europe, we have reason to be proud of this celebrated artist who grew up in Laguna Beach and returned to live here, largely under the radar, for the last twenty years of her life. She loved Laguna, and the natural beauty of the place was an important source of inspiration for her art. 

“Walking often on the shore,” she wrote, “I was influenced by the colors of the sea, the sky and the sand, by the seashells and seaweed, the dark clouds over the horizon in the evening, the shining colors reflected in the sand as the waves fell back.”

Laguna Beach Live! presents Live Music Insights with Dr. Robert Istad at Mozambique on May 22

On May 22, Laguna Beach Live! presents Live! Music Insights with Dr. Robert Istad who will explore “The Grass is Blue: America’s Legacy of Bluegrass and Spirituals.”

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Dr. Robert Istad

Dr. Istad is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at California State University at Fullerton, and has been serving as Pacific Chorale’s Artistic Director since July 2017. Demonstrating the musical highlights of his talk will be Denean Dyson, mezzo-soprano; Jeff Askew, guitar and banjo; and Chris Booke, bass.

The evening takes place in the Boma Room at Mozambique where guests are invited to come starting at 5:30 p.m. to enjoy social time and the Happy Hour menu. The talk and music will begin at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are $10 and can be made online at or by phone at (800) 595-4849. Seating is limited.

Coming up on June 10 is the Great Bluegrass music by the Barefoot Movement at Laguna College of Art & Design.

Doheny Blues Festival rocks it May 19 and 20


Right down the road there’s a little something to get you on your dancing feet. Looking for lively music fun? Go no further than Dana Point for the Blues Festival. 

Dana Point’s Doheny Blues Festival returns with a rockin’ lineup May 19 and 20. Participating musicians include legendary blues rocker George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Buddy Guy, Blues Traveler, Jimmie Vaughan, Beth Hart, Larkin Poe, The California Honeydrops, and many others. There will be more than 20 performers, on three stages.

The Blues event is Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at and also available for purchase at Wahoo’s.

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Buddy Guy will be performing at Doheny Blues Festival

By the way, this year’s festival has found a new home. The event producers, Omega Events state that, “After 20 successful years of bringing the world’s finest Blues musicians to Orange County, we are also excited to announce our new venue, Dana Point’s Sea Terrace Park. The award-winning festival will be reimagined at its new seaside home, with more intimate stage areas, elevated food and beverage offerings, and involvement from many local businesses.”

The new location means that the Laguna Beach trolleys can take visitors and locals all the way to the festival entrance this year.

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There will be a Blues Festival pre-party on Thursday, May 17 at Mozambique.  Featured will be international artist from Sweden, Knock-Out Greg and the Jukes, pictured here.

Dance Festival dazzles and Lagunatics a hoot


Last weekend was a bonanza in Laguna Beach.

The Laguna Dance Festival awed the audiences and Lagunatics made us chortle. What more could anyone ask? Oh, maybe the Angels playing in the post season, but let’s not be greedy.

For 14 years, the Festival has brought top dancers to Laguna Beach, enriching our lives and helping to keep alive Laguna’s identity as an art colony. All three performances were sold out. 

“We are so lucky to live in Laguna and get to see performances of this caliber,” said Betsy Jenkins who was in the audience both Friday and Saturday night.

Festival board member Bob Braun called the opening night’s tribute to the late David Bowie “transcendent,” Jenkins said and couldn’t have agreed more. 

“It was incredible,” said Joy Dittberner, executive director of the Festival. “It took us to another level. After the performance the dancers said they could feel the energy from the audience.” 

The Saturday night audience was equally enamored. And there was an added attraction for long-time Laguna residents, National Ballet of Canada principal dancer Skylar Campbell, who grew up in Laguna and is the grandson of the late Lida Lenney, who was instrumental in the acquisition of Laguna Canyon in the 1980s.

Dance Festival Skylar

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Photo by Karolina Kuras

Skylar Campbell wows crowd

“He was the best male dancer,” said former Mayor Cheryl Kinsman.

 It’s been more than 15 years since a group of dance-lovers met in Stuart Byer’s North Laguna home to hear retiring ballerina Jodie Gates propose some kind of dance performances in Laguna Beach. The meeting gave birth to CA Dance, which was the cradle for the Dance Festival. Rocking that cradle were Byer, Janet Eggers and Christine Rhoades, all three emeritus Festival board members; Nancy Meyer and Kathy Conway, current board members.

“It is Jodie who brings this quality of dancers to Laguna,” said Rhoades on Saturday. “She danced with many of them.”

Gates was a principal dancer with the Joffrey, Frankfurt, and Pennsylvania ballet companies and with Complexions Modern Ballet. She has choreographed and directed dance performances. She is also an educator of some renown. 

Gates began her academic career as an associate professor at UC Irvine. In 2012, Gates was appointed professor of dance and the inaugural vice dean and director of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, the university’s first new school in almost 40 years. 

Among the audience at Saturday’s performance: Eggers, Byer, Karyn Philippsen, Randy Kraft, Chris Quilter, Beth Majors and Bobbi Cox, a Festival donor, who also ponied up funding for one of the dance studios at the Third Street Centers. 

In addition to providing an extraordinary weekend of dance, the Festival also raises funds for educational programs and scholarships for young dancers, several of whom attended Saturday’s performance. 

The 2018 Festival also honored the late Lila Zali, who was born in 1918. Zali moved to Laguna in 1959 after a career in dance that included classical ballet and appearances in films such as “An American in Paris” and “Silk Stockings.”

She founded a dance school in Laguna and a group that became known as Ballet Pacifica, which performed at the Playhouse and later at the Center for Performing Arts. Skylar Campbell’s early training was at Zali’s school.

Dancers Chase O’Connell and Beckanne Sisk of Ballet West performed the classic “White Swan,” dedicated to Zali.

Dance lovers will have to wait a whole year before the Festival returns to Laguna. So sad. 

But lovers of satire and just plain fun have three more opportunities to attend Lagunatics’ annual Roast of the Coast: weekends through October 28.


The 2018 show opened on OctOBER 5. Bree Burgess Rosen conceived Lagunatics about the same time she conceived her son – the show that year had to be rewritten to accommodate her bump. 

Dance Festival Rosen

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bree Burgess Rosen welcomes the crowd on opening night of Lagunatics

For the seriously impaired or who come from another planet, Burgess Rosen directs, stars and writes parody lyrics for the show, complemented by writers Rufino Cabang, Bridget English, Rebecca M. Lyles (who showed up at the opening costumed as Minnie Mouse – which ought to tell you something), Paul Nygro, Chris Quilter and Ella Wyatt

Quitler also contributed dialogue, some of it spoken by Musical Director Roxanne Ward, tongue in cheek. 

As always, the dialogue and parodies are designed to puncture the pompous, pinpoint the ridiculous and make the audience laugh even when their own pet projects get skewered. 

There was no lack of subject matter for this year’s show. Jennifer Zieter particularly laughed at “Underground/I will survive,” performed by Ella Wyatt, Burgess Rosen, English, Charlee Rubino, Rebecca Butkivich, Jay Rechter and Rob Harryman

Dance Festival parody

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Parodies Galore

Other topical parodies included “Hotel Laguna/There’s a Small Hotel,” sung by English and Mark Marger; “The Village Entrance/It’s DeParking,” performed by Eric T. Anderson and Yvonne Browning; “The Public Garden, Help Our Garden Grow,” featuring Fernando Acevedo and Butkivich; “Accessory Dwelling Units/A Town that Can’t Say No,” soloed by Kristen Matson; “Trees/Less is More,” performed by Anderson and the cast – and that was just Act One. 

Act Two featured “Parking Fees/The Rates Go Up,” sung by Harryman; “Nest Door/I Feel Petty,” soloed by Ward; “Pop Up Public Art/A Waste of Money;” featuring Marger, English, Butkivich and Harryman.

The entire cast performed the closing number: “The Candidates for City Council/Tap your Troubles Away.”

In the audience: former Mayor Jane Egly, Carolyn and Dr. Tom Bent, Dee Perry (costumed as Medusa), Pageant of the Master’s Director Diane Challis Davy, and No Square Theatre President Rick Gold.

The show is sponsored by the Business Improvement District, the City, the Festival of Arts Foundation, Laguna Board of Realtors Charitable Assistance Fund, Ketel One, Rodney Strong Vineyards and Pavilions.

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading Contributions are welcomed.

One way or another, Hollywood Blondie entertains old and young at Bluebird Park

Photos by Scott Brashier 

One way vocalist

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Diana Grace of Hollywood Blondie captures the audience at Music in the Park on Sunday with her voice, performance, and energy. The band’s musicians were exceptional and entertaining too!

One way bubbles

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Blondie and bubbles, something for everyone 

One way crowd

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Not an inch of ground to spare for music fans on a beautiful Sunday at Bluebird Park

One way dancers

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Tiny Blondie dances to tunes…

On Sunday, Aug 4, Bill Magee plays the blues at Music in the Park from 5 to 7 p.m. The series is a function of by the Laguna Beach Arts Commission and is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. Please do not set up before 3 p.m. to allow children to enjoy the park prior to the concert.

For more photos by Scott Brashier, see slideshow below:

Sawdust guest artist Jwan Peres Ramos experiences the best of Laguna Beach benevolence

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

At the Sawdust Festival Benevolence Art Auction last Sunday, guest artist, 20-year-old Jwan Perez Ramos, saw his mural auctioned off at $800. 

Perez Ramos, who is from Puerto Rico, is attempting to make enough money this summer to put a roof back on his home, shared with his father, grandmother and aunt. Their home was leveled by Hurricane Maria last fall.

Perez Ramos and his father, Billy Joe Perez, painted murals depicting Aguadilla before the hurricane to help inspire the reeling community.

sawdust guest jwan

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Jwan Perez Ramos

“The customer had heard that the board was going to match the price of the mural up to $1,000,” explains Sawdust trustee Jay Grant. “When she came to pay, she gave us $200 more for the piece so Jwan would receive the full matching amount. Just so heartwarming for all of the trustees who facilitated the auction. And Jwan was so touched.”

The Sawdust Artists’ Benevolence Fund is a source of financial assistance for artists in Laguna Beach who have suffered a catastrophic event, leaving them unable to work. 

“Over the years, our art auction has raised over $150,000. It’s encouraging to see how much our community of art patrons values local artists,” said Monica Prado, president of the Artists’ Benevolence Fund board of trustees.

sawdust guest mural

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Mural depicting Aguadilla before Hurricane Maria

The auction featured an exciting selection of art created by Sawdust artists, including paintings, mixed media, ceramics, jewelry, clothing, photography, and more. These artists generously donated their work with the goal of raising funds for fellow artists in times of need. 

Professional auctioneer Tony DeZao, who presided over the live auction, packed the experience with lots of laughs and entertaining stories.

Perez Ramos has his own booth and is staying in a local home, organized by the Festival.

sawdust guest booth

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Jwan Perez Ramos working at his booth

“Our goal with this is to help somebody in distress,” Grant is quoted as saying. “We want to encourage him, his family and community. We will do everything we can to let him know there are people who care.”

Laguna Dance Festival Gala takes on a musical theme with tribute to legacy of West Side Story on May 18

Laguna Dance Festival’s 2018 gala will celebrate the launch of the festival’s 14th season with a West Side Story theme in honor of the centennial birthdays of two of the production’s artistic luminaries, composer Leonard Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins. 

The gala will be held at [seven-degrees] on Friday, May 18, and includes a live auction, fine dining, wines donated by Hall Winery of Napa, and dancing into the night. 

The program will include live music and dance from West Side Story and vocal renditions of select songs, and an iconic dance excerpt from “America,” performed by dancers from the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. There will also be several new commissions performed by professional artists - each inspired by the musical, but with their very own “west coast story” flair. 

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Jerome Robbins with George Chakiris during rehearsals of West Side Story

Additionally, Clifford Williams from Complexions Contemporary Ballet will perform a solo as well as the three recipients of the 2017 Laguna Dance Festival scholarship – Emily Eckert, Jocelyn Magana, and Marcus Sarjeant. 

“This year’s gala event not only marks the centennial of two great artists, it also celebrates Laguna Dance Festival’s commitment to quality education and innovative programming. The night will be full of glorious music and dance that represents the brightest stars of today and tomorrow,” says Artistic Director and Founder, Jodie Gates. 

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West Side Story dance number - America

Laguna Dance Festival offers world-class dance on a theatre stage, art galleries and site-specific outdoor venues throughout Laguna Beach and Orange County. Since its inception in 2005, Laguna Dance Festival has presented companies such as Complexions Contemporary Ballet, The Parsons Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, BalletX, and Ballet BC, among others. In addition, the festival is committed to providing quality dance education to the west coast through master classes, a summer intensive workshop, and scholarships for young dancers.

Go to for tickets and more information.

Suzie’s ARTiculation

Sawdust sizzles at 52, gets better with age


Sawdust Art Festival seems to get better with age. If Tuesday’s Preview Night is any indication, a barometer of this summer’s show, well, it’s my fave to date!

While checking out all the spectacular new art, the live music always adds to the cool vibe. Truly there are so many incredible artists, so little time…

To kick off my Sawdust ARTiculation, I interviewed two freshmen and two seasoned artists to get their perspective on the opening, preparation, their booth and their work.

Lisa Mansour, painting, first-year exhibitor

“I have wanted to be in the Sawdust for a very long time. Every summer I would bump into Tom Klingenmeier on the grounds and he would say “are you applying for next year?” Lisa Mansour said. 

Fast forward to this year her “Yes, I think so!” reply became definitive.

“I decided to take a leap of faith and submit my application last November for the 2018 Summer Festival,” Mansour said. “My preparations began from that point on.” 

Graduating last December from LCAD’s Post-Baccalaureate program, Mansour said she’s building on a series of paintings that she completed while studying at LCAD. 

“I tried to paint everyday, and finish at least one painting a week,” Mansour said. “Right now I have about 30 pieces of original art hanging in my booth, and about a dozen in the wings.” 

The charming tagline on her booth sign says “Donuts, Dress Forms, Other Delights.” 

“I love exploring the playful side of fine art and finding a balance between classic technique and exuberant expression,” Mansour said.

Sawdust Sizzles Mansour

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Photo by Scott Brashier 

Recent LCAD grad Lisa Mansour, excited to finally say yes to exhibit at the Sawdust, pictured joyfully with her husband John on opening night

Regarding her booth, “I chose my booth because it was on a shady corner on one of the main paths of the Sawdust, the one that leads to the glass blowing booth.”

She had it built with a triangle wall at the open corner and angled the wall so that when people are entering the Sawdust and walking down the path, they can readily see her work. 

“The great thing about the Sawdust is we can paint in our booths – in fact six hours a week of demo time is required of Sawdust artists,” Mansour said. “I plan on painting all summer long.”

Leading up to opening night, Mansour admits she was a little stressed out, but it turned out well. 

“My longtime dream to be in the Sawdust had arrived and I had art on the walls and donuts as my snack,” said Mansour. “So many friends and well-wishers were there – really the whole community of Laguna Beach – and it was such a warm and wonderful evening. It flew by.”

Catherine Reade, jewelry, 18-year exhibitor

Preparing for the Sawdust is not so literal – she does shows all spring, as well as the winter shows including Winter Fantasy. While she is preparing for the other shows she’s also preparing for the Sawdust summer show, with the end of May to the end of June, of course, the big push.

“I’m also making a lot of custom work, most people don’t buy ready to wear, they want something custom,” Reade said. “They want something that’s different, within my style more personalized to them, more intimate detail.” 

Sawdust Sizzles crowds

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Artist Catherine Reade loves the energy and the crowds, like on opening night

As for her booth, she’s coveted the same spot 14 of her 18 years in the show.

“The importance is to always have a corner booth and have my counter space, so people can walk up and have room to look at my work and spread out and talk to me,” Reade said. “My whole interest is to educate clients and prospective clients about what the materials are, how I’ve created this, what goes into it. I want them to walk away with a really positive feeling about my work.”

Because she is a fabricator she creates every piece from start to finish.

“Nothing is prefabricated. I make all my links, all my settings, I have to cast wax…so it’s all individually made, everything is a one-of-a kind piece,” Reade said.

Her booth is sort of minimalist. Reade said she just wants it to be clean and industrial like her jewelry.

“I love that space because it’s very energetic. I have all the energy from Studio One, across from me, with all these children and adults creating all these art projects,” Reade said.

“It’s very energized in that neighborhood. I love the energy, excitement and openness.”

Lisa Rainey, oil painting and painting, first-year exhibitor

“I started preparing last year before I submitted my artwork for review. I knew that I wanted to be in the show this year building a body of work the past few years since I moved back here from Chicago in 2015,” Rainey said. “There is a lot that goes into it. I always want to grow and I want my work to be authentic to who I am every moment I create.” 

Currently she has about 35 pieces and will be working in her booth all summer in oils and mixed media to create new work. 

“I choose the pieces that speak to me and make me feel something when I look at them,” Rainey said. “I constantly bring work home from my studio so that I can live with them for a while to see how they speak to me.”

She added, “Meditating on my subjects, I’ve learned more and more about color and finding techniques that were new and different.”

Sawdust Sizzles Rainey

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Photo courtesy of the artist

Lisa Rainey can’t wait to share her work as a new exhibitor at the Sawdust

Her large paintings, created within this last year, sparked something new in her. Rainey calls them dream-scapes.

“I mainly have worked in a style that I call impressionistic realism. I work from life so that I can really see the nuances of color and light in flowers and nature,” Rainey said. “I also have recently gone back to working in watercolors, I don’t want people to only see a pretty still life, I paint to tell a story.”

For her booth, Rainey wanted to have a light roof so the sun would shine through. 

“I wanted this space to be light and bright, a nice backdrop for the color in my work and choosing colors to help the work to stand out,” Rainey said.

“Opening night, I was nervous knowing how many people come to preview night, but once it got going I was feeling comfortable and having a great time,” Rainey said. “My friends came to support me, see my booth and my artwork. It was truly a celebration.”

Doug Miller, painting and photography, 48-year exhibitor

“This is my 48th summer at Sawdust – I got out of the Navy in 1971 and got a booth – I bought my booth space from a girl who was moving to San Francisco for $70, which was what she paid,” Miller said. “That was in the early Sawdust days before rules were adopted that would not allow such a transaction to take place.”

He’s been at the same location for 21 years, perfect to be near the music since Miller plays violin and with various musicians during the show. 

“I paint every day – I have painted every day without missing a day for 24 years. I number my paintings and record them in a book,” Miller said. 

His self-imposed rule is to at least begin a painting every day. 

A friend suggested that he record his pieces in a daily journal, that was the impetus he wanted to see how many days he could go in a row…24 years.

Sawdust Sizzles Miller

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Doug Miller is a staple at the Sawdust always wanting to make others smile

“I’m up past 17,500 paintings. There are days I have painted more than one. in fact, I painted an average of two pieces per day most of the time,” Miller said.

He paints about 400 to 1,000 acrylic paintings per year, mostly the small canvasses up to 6 x 8 inches. “I sell an average of about 500 pieces per year. My best year was 2008 when I sold 651 pieces, mostly beaches,” Miller explained.

Larger pieces go on the walls. “I finished painting of Crystal Cove in one evening, two days before the Opening party. A big quick piece that is a real attention-getter,” Miller said. “Opening night party, I sold five pieces and saw so many Laguna friends – several will come back and purchase during the show. They always do.”

Here’s the skinny on locals’ nights – interestingly, 15 places not Laguna Beach, such as Dana Point, the other Lagunas, and the surrounding cities, get in free on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, from 5 to 10 p.m., whereas Laguna locals only get in free Mondays, Thursdays, also after 5 p.m., and the First Friday of the month all day.

To check out Sawdust central, including the live entertainment schedule, art classes and workshops, theme days, special events and more, visit Sawdust Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Road. For information, call 494-3030.

Until next time…so much Sawdust art, entertainment, socializing, and so little time!

Snow and Santa

Sawdust Winter Fantasy

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Snow and arriving

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Santa arrives at 10:30 a.m. to waiting crowd

Snow and snowfalling

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Yes, it does snow in Laguna

Snow and Skipper

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Naughty or nice, Skipper’s been nice!

Santa’s hours: Available for photo ops in Santa’s cottage 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 

2 to 5 p.m. all days of the show. Remaining days of Winter Fantasy: December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre opens classic tale of A Little Princess on May 5 at Laguna Playhouse

The award-winning Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre opens A Little Princess on Saturday, May 5 on the Moulton Stage at The Laguna Playhouse. Adapted by June Walker Rodgers, from the story Sara Crewe by Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess tells the story of young Sara Crewe, privileged daughter of a wealthy diamond merchant. 

All the other girls at Miss Minchin’s school treat Sara as if she truly were a princess. But when Captain Crewe’s fortune is sadly lost, Sara’s luck changes. Suddenly she is treated no better than a scullery maid. Her own fierce determination to maintain her dignity and remain a princess on the inside has intrigued and delighted readers for over a hundred years.

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Little Princess runs from Saturday, May 5, through Sunday, May 13

Actors include; Bridget Phillips as Sara Crewe, Claire Day as Miss Minchin, Cassidy Morgan as Becky, Erin Sawyer as Amelia, Grace Hahn as Ermengarde, Bethany Klause as Lavinia, Lyndsey Grace Stradwick as Jessie, Sienna Voisin as Lottie, Abigail Williams as Anne, Elisa Rodriguez as Marie and Mrs. Perrens, Ella Thimons as Janet, Charlie Grace Goubran as Nora, Carson Kubelun as Guy Lawrence, and Chloe Lawson, Fiona McCue, Sophia Pachl and Raquel Temesvary as School Girls. Terry Christopher will perform as Captain Crewe and Mr. Carrisford, Charles McClung as Mr. Barrows and Mr. Michaels, and Aaron McGee as Monsieur Thibault and Ram Dass. 

A Little Princess is directed by Kelly Herman with costumes by Kaitlyn Kaufman, set by Jim Prodger, lights by Glenn Powell, and sound by Mike Ritchey, and includes a cast of 20.

Performances will be: Saturday, May 5 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday, May 6 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Thursday, May 10 at 10 a.m.; Friday, May 11 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, May 12 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; and Sunday, May 13 at 1 p.m.  

Tickets are $20 for Adults and $10 for youth and can be purchased by calling (949) 497-2787 x1, or going online to

Laguna Canyon Artist’s Spring Open Studios celebrates Cinco de Mayo on Saturday, May 5

On Saturday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Laguna Canyon artists (LCA) open their studios to the public. LCA suggests that the public celebrate the Cinco de Mayo edition of the Laguna Canyon Artist’s Spring Open Studios by visiting these talented artists’ workspaces and viewing their unique art.

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Dynamic Color Abstract by LCA Paul Gardner

The work of these artists, representing a diverse mix of styles and mediums including drawing and painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking and ceramics, will be on display.

Attendees can start the Cinco de Mayo holiday festivities by taking a drive to beautiful Laguna Canyon for this rare opportunity to visit these artists in their studios to see how the work is created. 

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Laguna Canyon Artist’s Studios open for Cinco de Mayo on Sat, May 5

Parking is free; refreshments will be served. Drivers should look for signs at the Laguna Canyon Artists complex.

The studios are located at 3251 & 3275 Laguna Canyon Rd.

No Square Theatre presents A Little Night Music

Love under the chandeliers! This is the delightful musical that gave us the popular and haunting “Send in the Clowns.” A Little Night Music is based on the book by Hugh Wheeler and features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. This production, opening on May 11, is directed by Joe Lauderdale, with music direction by Diane King Vann, choreography by Ellen Prince, and costume design by Brigitte Harper.

Performances will be May 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m., May 13 at 6:30 p.m., May 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m., and May 20 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 (VIP seating $35) and can be purchased at

A Little Night Music is the witty, delicate, sophisticated, and occasionally heartbreaking story of actress Desirée Armfeldt and the men who love her – a lawyer from her past and a Dragoon from her present. Both men, as well as their jealous wives, agree to join Desirée and her family for a weekend in the country at Desirée’s mother’s estate. With everyone in one place, infinite possibilities of new romances and second chances bring endless surprises under the magical chandeliers floating above.

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The cast in rehearsal for A Little Night Music

The talented, veteran cast includes (in order of appearance): Gary Greene, Alexandria Goforth, Rebecca Butkivich, Eric T. Anderson, Chloe Lovato, Olivia Tewksbury, Karen Rymar, McKay Mangum, Marisol Zamora, Rob Harryman, Ashley Montgomery, Alexis Acevedo, and Chelsea Vann. Audience members will be delighted to see many of their favorite actors from touring companies, area theater shows, and past No Square productions (including Annie, Chicago, Rocky Horror Show, and Lagunatics).

Award-winning director Joe Lauderdale has directed or produced more than 70 productions for both youth and adults.

No Square Theatre is generously sponsored by The Lodging Establishments & City of Laguna Beach, Patrick Quilter, Dorene & Lee Butler Family Foundation, Yvonne & John Browning, The City of Laguna Beach, Stella Charton in Memory of Lloyd Charton, Ann & Charlie Quilter in Honor of Joe Lauderdale, Carolyn & Tom Bent, Festival of Arts Foundation, Laguna Board of Realtors Charitable Assistance Fund, and Patrick Quilter/Quilter Labs.

No Square Theatre is in Historic Legion Hall, 384 Legion Street, two blocks south of the High School. The High School has ample free parking. Seating is extremely limited and the theatre has enjoyed a long run of sold-out events, so tickets must be purchased in advance.

Laguna Playhouse open during facelift

Laguna Playhouse construction

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Renovation continues on Laguna Playhouse with building updates

which include the replacement of the existing textured stucco with a smooth finish, lowering the front screen walls, additions to the metal canopy, landscaping, and new signage and color palette programs. The Playhouse remains open with Driving Miss Daisy, which runs from January 9 - 27, and Forever Motown from Jan 30 - Feb. 2. The groundbreaking took place on Nov 5, and the project will take six months, which puts the completion date in April.

ART4KIDS, INC. receives $2,000 Grant Award from Festival of Arts Foundation

The Festival of Arts Foundation has awarded $2,000 to ART4KIDS, INC. to provide art materials for Laguna Beach children in distress. Since 2001, ART4KIDS, INC. has donated supplies of art materials to various Laguna Beach nonprofits that aid children. 

This year’s grant funds will be used to provide art materials to Waymakers Teen Shelter, Even Start Boys & Girls Club preschool, Laguna Beach Community Clinic, Laguna Art Museum’s children’s program, and Laguna Food Pantry. 

Funded by private donations and grant awards, ART4KIDS, INC., serves social service agencies in Orange County. Since its inception, ART4KIDS, INC. has helped 50,000 children – ill, hospitalized, abused, orphaned, or homeless children facing major life challenges.

ART4KIDS INC painting

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Photo by Pam Schader

A two-year-old chemotherapy patient carefully creates her first painting, using materials supplied by ART4KIDS

The value of the program is supported by research showing visual art to be one of the most effective modalities for processing trauma. 

Founder Pam Schader, M.A., has directed the nonprofit for 18 years. She commented, “ART4KIDS serves children at more than 50 Orange County social service agencies each year. We are striving to meet the demand for donated art materials. The message of ART4KIDS is that art is a life skill available to all at difficult times. Therefore we hope to increase our capacity to include ‘to go’ artpacks for the teen clients at the Waymakers shelter to take with them when they leave. We currently supply one Laguna agency with 45 artpacks per year but they have expressed their need for 250 per week!”

ART4KIDS provides workshops for children at the Braille Institute, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, and special needs classrooms. 

ART4KIDS, Inc. welcomes donors and volunteers to assemble artpacks, work at art booths and workshops, make handmade cards, and identify children in distress.

Learn more at

Coastal Eddy, A Gallery, is five years young and ready to celebrate the milestone 

Coastal Eddy, A Gallery, celebrates five years in Laguna this month. Since May 2013, the gallery has showcased many exciting artists’ ceramic works. Laguna Beach has a rich history in ceramic art and needed a gallery to represent both the past and present in ceramic techniques. 

Starting with local artists, the gallery has grown to 32 artists, including artists from around the country and Canada. From functional ware to abstract sculpture, the ever- changing collection is meant to inspire. 

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Submitted photo

The vibrant storefront of Coastal Eddy

Over the last five years Coastal Eddy has hosted over 30 exhibitions, including several installations, with the idea that “art for art’s sake” is just as important as the sale. If you have creative, edgy art that is evocative, people will connect and find a place for art in their lives. 

Owner Robin Lee Riddell plans a Cinco de Mayo party to celebrate this anniversary and to thank the residents of Laguna Beach for their support. The party is Saturday, May 5 from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Visit the gallery for an evening of art, music, food & fun. 

Coastal Eddy, the only ceramic art gallery in Laguna Beach, is located at 1417 S. Coast Highway, in the HIP district of Laguna. 

For more information or to RSVP, contact (949) 715-4113 or visit

Plein Air artists paint their hearts out at the Great Paint Out hosted by LPAPA at Heisler Park


At any given time of day or evening, walkers never know what they will come across at Heisler Park; a bearded lizard or a bevy of monks in orange garments (and I didn’t have my phone to document it that time), or a wedding held on rose petal hearts spread across the grass.

Plein air guy with moustache

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Plein air artists enjoy the beautiful day as they paint their hearts out

On Saturday morning, I came across a long line of people with painting gear waiting to sign in for a plein air competition, and of course, I had to investigate. Artists had already set up their easels all along the walkway, so something was obviously in the air.

President of The Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) Toni Kellenberg explained that it was the Grand Paint Out, and later provided additional information along with photos of the winning pieces.

Plein air on rock

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Submitted by LPAPA

LPAPA Artist Member Will Thompson perches on the rocks to create his painting

“LPAPA sent out an open call to all artists to come out and paint en plein air with LPAPA Members at Heisler Park from 9 a.m. to noon. The community was treated to exciting demonstrations of plein air painting by more than 70 artists of all levels. The artwork created by a number of LPAPA’s artists at the Grand Paint Out were entered into the Centennial Paint Out Exhibition being held at LPAPA in Residence located at Forest & Ocean Gallery, 480 Ocean Ave, and will be available for viewing and purchase through Sunday, Sept 2, 2018,” Toni explained.

Plein air popular area

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Photo by Scott Brashier

A popular area for painters

LPAPA Artist Member Erich Neubert received the 1st Place Award, LPAPA Signature Artist Member Durre Waseem received 2nd Place, and LPAPA Artist Member Steven Grieco received the 3rd Place Award. 

Kellenberg continued, “Additionally, LPAPA was delighted to be one of Laguna Art Museum’s community partners in commemorating the Centennial Birthday celebrating the official day on which the original Laguna Beach Art Association was founded in 1918.”

Plein air Neubert

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Submitted by LPAPA

LPAPA Artist Member Erich Neubert wins First 1st Place Award for “High Tide”

On Saturday, the museum hosted a free day with art activities, docent-guided tours, community partner programs, and a birthday cake. At the celebration event, LPAPA invited visitors to become part of the legacy of plein air paintings by being photographed putting themselves into the actual paintings. Two of these photos are included in this edition of Stu News. 

Plein air Waseem

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Submitted by LPAPA

LPAPA Signature Artist Member Durre Waseem wins 2nd Place for “On the Bench”

For more information about LPAPA, or to become an artist or supporter member, visit

Fun for everyone

Sawdust Winter Fantasy

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Fun for marionettes

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Rene’s Marionettes will be back Dec 1 and 2

Fun for poinsettias

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Experience Sawdust’s magical 3-acre art village during the holiday season, transformed into a picture perfect winter wonderland in the heart of Laguna 

Fun for bakers dozen

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This Baker’s Dozen says, “Don’t forget to come back for Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec 8 at 8:30 a.m.”

For tickets, go to

LagunaTunes performs Christmas Letters

LagunaTunes performs Kollenda

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Photo by Scott Brashier

What exactly was Pat Kollenda reading at the LagunaTunes production on Sunday? A long Christmas Letter? Details in the story on our Front Page II

Joseph and his talented technicolor cast wows the audience during matinee performance at LBHS


Photos by Johanna Ellis

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is based on the story of Joseph from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. However, that’s where the similarity ends. Nowhere in the Book of Genesis does one encounter a Pharaoh/Elvis Presley impersonator, Joseph’s brother Reuben wearing a beret and dancing like a Beatnik, or the brothers wearing leis and rocking to Calypso music.

Joseph and emsemble

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Ensemble cast

Sunday’s performance at Laguna Beach High School (LBHS), while not “biblical” in terms of religious significance, was nevertheless “biblical” on the entertainment scale. Originally created by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, this production was masterfully brought to the stage by LBHS staff members Alexis Karol (Producer), Calena Marie DelPizzo-Howell (Hair and Makeup Design), and Peter Roche (Technical Director). Guest Director and Choreographer Paul Nygro, a professional theater veteran, is thrilled to be back at Artist’s Theatre, and Music Director Tim Nelson, a leading force in OC Theatre for 30 years, welcomes the opportunity to work with Alexis Karol. 

Joseph and prisoner

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Tanner Burton as Joseph and the narrators, (L-R) Claire Tigner, Rylee Bullington, and Zoe Waters 

Lexie LeFevre, a sophomore from Yorba Linda, who attended the performance said, “The play was great! The actors were spot-on when portraying the story, and amazing at bringing the right emotion to the audience!”

In a nutshell, the story unfolds – among his 12 sons, Joseph is most favored by his father who bestows on him a technicolor dream coat, his brothers are jealous, get rid of him (they think), but Joseph is taken to Egypt, becomes a slave, works his way up to running the household, but the Potiphar throws him in jail (mistakenly thinking he’s involved with his wife). 

Joseph and Elvis

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Nick Reardon as the Pharaoh

Soon after, his reputation for deciphering dreams brings him to be right-hand man for the Pharaoh. Meanwhile, Joseph’s family back home is struggling due to the famine, with his brothers regretting what they did to him, and they travel there to beg for supplies. In Egypt, the brothers request food, not realizing who he is. Joseph gives them sacks of food, but puts a golden cup in the one belonging to Benjamin, his youngest brother, whom he has never met. When the brothers attempt to depart, Joseph stops them, accusing them of theft. 

Joseph and calypso

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Noah Novick, (middle) leads brothers in "Benjamin Calypso"

Each brother empties his sack and when the cup is found in Benjamin’s sack, Joseph accuses him of stealing. The other brothers beg Joseph to take them prisoner instead and let Benjamin go free. Ultimately, Joseph sees that his brothers have changed and reveals who he really is. Joseph sends for his father, the pair is reunited, and he wears his coat of many colors again. Granted, that’s a lot of territory to cover.

Bringing this story to life is a company of versatile and talented performers, many of whom interchange parts seamlessly. The company includes more than 50 LBHS student cast and crew members and 12 students from El Morro Elementary, Top of the World Elementary, and Thurston Middle School in the children’s choir. 

Joseph and beatnik

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Luka Salib as Beatnik brother – Reuben

Presented entirely in song, the story’s three narrators guide the audience on the journey. Rylee Bullington, Claire Tigner, and Zoe Waters do an excellent job. All of the players wonderfully populate the Artist Theatre’s stage. Tanner Burton does a fine job of portraying Joseph as the vulnerable dreamer who has lost his way. His final song, “Any Dream Will Do,” is one of his best. 

There are a few numbers that can’t help but be standouts. Nick Reardon as the Pharaoh “wannabe” Elvis, does an admirable impersonation and fully inhabits his character with “Poor, Poor Pharaoh & Song of the King.” Isadora Duskin-Feinberg brings the Potiphar’s wife to life with her seductive dance number. 

Joseph and coat

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Joseph, cast and the amazing technicolor coat

As brother Reuben, Luka Salib gives it his all in the number “Those Canaan Days,” both singing and dancing like a true ‘60s Beatnik. Noah Novick was also memorable for his “Benjamin Calypso” performance. Drew Fink as the Potiphar was great as well.

The impressive cast worked together to bring this legendary story to the stage for a fun and engaging afternoon. Don’t miss the chance to see one of the remaining performances. (Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 24 at 2:30 p.m.)

For tickets, go to Tickets are $22 for Premium, $17 for adults, and $12 for students. 

LBHS is located at 625 Park Ave.

Local artists host fourth annual Art Show and Open Studio on June 1

Award-winning sculptor Ron Whitacre and author/artist Kathryn Lang-Slattery will be hosting their fourth annual Art Show, Open Studio, and champagne reception on Saturday, June 1, from 4 to 9 p.m. 

This exhibition will be held at their private residence on the intimate and historical Fredrick M. Lang estate in South Laguna. 

Local artists toast

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Submitted photo

Ron Whitacre and Kathryn Lang-Slattery will host the fourth annual Art Show and Open Studio in their beautiful home on June 1

In Laguna Beach, Ron Whitacre’s best known work is “Harmony,” a large steel sculpture of a man, woman, and child, installed in 1998 over the entrance to the Art-A-Fair. 

Ron Whitacre will be available to discuss his process and his inspirations. His welded steel sculptural works are unusual in their fluidity and movement. 

Classic legends, mythical creatures, and the human figure in motion such as dancers, acrobats, musicians, and contortionists inspire him. In addition, his humorous greeter figures are popular with art collectors. 

Pen and ink drawings and pastel paintings by Kathryn Lang-Slattery will also be on display. 

Sip champagne, nibble chocolate treats, and enjoy the art. RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive address.

Festival of Arts cancels 2020 shows; Council to review Sawdust plan for modified festival


For the first time since World War II, there will be no summertime Pageant of the Masters or Festival of Arts exhibit in Laguna Beach. 

Festival officials announced the cancellations on Monday, blaming COVID-19. 

Based on state, federal, and local guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, mass gatherings this summer, such as the crowds attracted to the Festival of Arts each year, are not plausible, according to the announcement. 

“We were hopeful and tried our best to open our doors this summer, but sadly our shows have become another victim of COVID-19,” said David Perry, Festival of Arts Board President. “The decision to cancel our shows was not taken lightly. But given these unprecedented times, we believe it is the right thing to do.” 

The statement continued: “The Pageant of the Masters’ highly anticipated performance of Made in America has been postponed to the summer of 2021, with dates and details still to be announced. Artists juried into the 2020 Festival of Arts Fine Art Show will be guaranteed a spot in the 2021 exhibit. The Festival of Arts team is exploring the possibility of a virtual art exhibit that could be available later this summer, as well as other art initiatives. Details will be announced on the Festival’s website ( and on social media when available.”

Festival of Arts

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Courtesy of Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters

The Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters have been canceled for the first time since World War II

Pageant ticket holders for 2020 will be contacted by email regarding ticket cancellation options. Anyone who donates their tickets back to the organization may not only be eligible for a tax benefit but will also be automatically entered into a drawing for a walk-on role in the 2021 Pageant. 

The drawing is scheduled for September 4, 2020; 10 winners will be selected. More information can be found at 

To support the Festival of Arts, for more information, and to stay up-to-date, visit

The Sawdust Festival is proposing sweeping modifications to its annual show to allow it to open. The proposals will be reviewed by the City Council at tonight’s meeting. 

“Nine board members, three committees, and our staff worked for two weeks on the proposals in an effort to safely open this summer,” said Sawdust President Monica Prado on Monday. “We are very fortunate that the grounds allow us to be nimble in how we configure the layout of the show.” 

In a letter to Sawdust artists, Prado wrote, “The Governor has established stages for reopening. These modifications are designed to position the Sawdust for approval to open by strategically reducing crowd size and addressing social distancing by widening aisleways and creating more open space.”

The plan stipulates that should restrictions relax in the coming months, modifications will be relaxed.

Festival of Michael

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Michael Minutoli at the 2019 Sawdust Festival

Tentative dates in order of preference: 

--July 18 - August 30 with an option to extend to September 5 

--July 23 - September 5 

--August 1 - September 5

Proposed modifications: 

--50 percent reduction to maximum crowd capacity 

--33 percent reduction in daily operational hours 

--33 percent reduction of concessions 

--33 percent reduction in live stage areas (no public access for audience seating or dancing) 

--25-30 percent reduction in overall exhibitor space (fewer booths, no mini- booths) 

--No interactive art classes (demonstrations only, with social distancing)

 Additional Safeguards:

--Plexiglass barriers at ticket stations, and sales and information booths 

--At this time, the use of plexiglass in individual artists’ booths and the wearing of face coverings is at the artists’ discretion

--Hand sanitizing stations throughout 

--Continual sanitizing of restrooms 

--Creative social distancing signage 

--Adhering to separate entries and exits

Also of note: 

--While there will be no mini-booths, there will be “gallery” locations on the grounds where artists’ creations can be displayed for sale through the sales booth. 

--City staff is not recommending the city oblige the festival’s request for limited trolley service as officials are considering the suspension of the summer service.

In her letter to the artists, Prado said the board understood how severe the proposed changes are and difficult to embrace.   

“In our hearts, we know that the Sawdust is both loved by its artists and beloved by the community,” she wrote. “Therefore, we are pressing into the challenging work of finding a path forward, knowing that many artists rely on income generated directly or indirectly by this show and that what we offer, even in this scaled-back form, is of great value to our community.”

The 2020 Laguna Plein Air Painting Invitational is scheduled for October 3-10. 

“We haven’t been told we can’t do it,” said Executive Director Rosemary Swimm. “We have to get the Governor’s permission and city permission. But we are proceeding as if it will happen.

“The word of the year is ‘reimagining.’ We are right up there, and it’s not just for the Invitational. We have moved the show planned for this month to July, which will go forward either as a physical show or virtual.

“We are Zooming ‘webinars’ – talk, classes, and interviews to keep our artists out there and energized.” 

Art-A-Fair has not yet presented a plan to the city but is expected to follow the lead of the Sawdust Festival.

Playhouse façade to be updated


The Laguna Playhouse will get a facelift. 

Plans for the updated exterior were approved by the City Council at the August 7 meeting. Approval had been recommended by the Planning Commission. 

“It will be a definite improvement,” said Commissioner Anne Johnson. 

The Laguna Playhouse is believed to the oldest continuing theater operation on the West Coast. It was established in 1920. The Moulton Theater inside the Playhouse opened in 1968 and was named for Nellie Gail Moulton who contributed to the funding for the project. 

It is home to the Laguna Dance Festival, the Youth Theater, and in the past to Laguna Concert Band and “Lagunatics” performances, as well as other theatrical productions. 

Laguna Beach owns the 1.3-acre site, but leases it to the Playhouse, which is an annual recipient of Business Improvement District funding from voluntary hoteliers in Laguna. The theater was awarded $240,000 this year and also has received a matching grant from the City for up to $250,000 for four years for a total of $1 million.

One of the goals for the matching grant was to determine whether or when to undertake a capital improvement plan to renovate the theater. 

The proposed building update includes the replacement of the existing textured stucco with a smooth finish, lowering the front screen walls, additions to the metal canopy, landscaping and new signage and color palette programs. 

Playhouse facade to

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Playhouse is the oldest continuing theater operation on the West Coast

Council approval of a conditional use permit required the commission recommendation to permit improvements on the canopy to exceed the 18-foot height limit in the Civic Arts District. The canopy, as approved, will stretch 26 feet above the adjacent grade. 

However, the Civic Arts District development standards recognize that art organizations and other art festival-compatible land uses may have special needs in terms of building height, according to the staff report submitted by Community Development Director Greg Pfost.

Five special findings must be made in addition to the standard CUP findings. 

Commissioners did balk at the street tree plan at the July 18 meeting. Commissioners requested substitutions for the proposed four red ironbark eucalypti proposed as complementary to the landscaping in the adjacent office building at 580 Broadway. The commission cited the recent failure of a eucalyptus as reason to be concerned about its suitability for the location.    

“Playhouse executives will have to work with Caltrans on some of the landscaping,” said Johnson.

The project is exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act, because there was no proposal to expand the building footprint and no expansion of use. Parking requirements will not be increased and the project, as designed and submitted by architect Mark Abel, does not have a negative effect on biologically sensitive resources.

Opening night of Driving Miss Daisy at the Playhouse driven by a splendid cast and powerful storytelling


Photos by Ed Krieger

The brilliance is in the details, and the opening performance of Driving Miss Daisy at Laguna Playhouse on Sunday certainly proves that adage to be true. Fine-tuned by an incredible cast of Michael Learned (Daisy Werthan), Lance E. Nichols (Hoke Colburn), and David Nevell (Boolie Werthan), each actor superbly grounds and propels the story over a span of 25 years. 

Together, they form a trifecta of remarkable talent.

Michael Learned won a record four Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in The Waltons (1973, 1974, 1976) and Nurse (1982).

Lance E. Nichols is a veteran character actor, best remembered for his starring role as dentist Larry Williams in HBO’s critically acclaimed Treme.

David Nevell returns to Laguna Playhouse, having previously appeared in Twelve Angry Men and The Odd Couple

Opening night three

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(L-R) Michael Learned, Lance E. Nichols, and David Nevell star in the Playhouse production of “Driving Miss Daisy” by Alfred Uhry, directed by Michael Bloom

To most, this is not an unfamiliar story. Playwright Alfred Uhry’s groundbreaking Pulitzer-prize winning story chronicles the decades-long relationship between a strong-willed, well-to-do Jewish woman and her black chauffer in the Jim Crow South. Set against the backdrop of changing world events between the late 1940s and the early 1970s, what begins as a hostile pairing blossoms into a life-altering friendship that transcends all the societal boundaries between them.

Driving Miss Daisy has absorbed audiences since its off-Broadway opening in 1987, productions meandering their way from three national tours, to an Oscar-nominated film, to London’s West End, and a Broadway opening – finally – in 2010. 

Clearly, covering a wide range of subjects like aging, race, class, and religion, particularly in an iconic play and Academy Award-winning movie, is tricky, but this production handles it with delicacy and heart.

Opening night Daisy

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Michael Learned as Daisy Werthan

As directed by Michael Bloom, who is the former artistic director of Cleveland Playhouse, it is masterfully orchestrated in all respects. 

Learned has perfected the look, voice, accent, and prickly personality of Daisy as well as the hard shell that barely hides her vulnerability. Measuring every scene with subtle yet profound nuances, Daisy’s brittle nature is reflected in the stiffness of Learned’s movements, and the quavering of her mouth and chin in the last scenes, underscoring that she’s no longer in control of even her own body. I challenge anyone over the age of 60 not to tear up during the scene in which Daisy thinks she’s still a teacher and can’t find her papers. That interaction with Hoke is worth the price of admission. 

Nichols approaches Hoke’s character with confidence and calm resolve, and the humorous jockeying with Miss Daisy is a delight to witness, although one of the best scenes is when they have a disagreement over his need to stop the car to go to the bathroom. He is a strong entity on stage and a formidable counter to Learned.

Opening night in car

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Michael Learned and Lance E. Nichols star in “Driving Miss Daisy,” now playing at the Laguna Playhouse through Jan 27

In one moving scene, Miss Daisy finds out from Hoke that her temple has been bombed, and although she doesn’t want to believe it, when Hoke relates the story of his friend’s father being hanged, there’s a moment of quiet revelation that these two characters are more alike than different. 

Nevell’s “Boolie” is less stereotypical than the son in the movie version, and however disturbed the audience might be about his beliefs, we do care about him. Nevell has great command of his character and he’s a pleasure to watch. One of his best scenes is when he’s trying to talk his mother out of going to the Martin Luther King dinner.

Adding to the overall atmosphere is the minimal setting, which never changes. It serves to emphasize the aging of the cast as time passes. And the benches (standing in for the automobile) make audience members feel as if they’re riding in the car with Miss Daisy and Hoke.

Opening night Boolie

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Michael Learned as Daisy Werthan and David Nevell as Boolie Werthan

Each aspect of the production adds to its authenticity. The entire design team should be commended: Scenic Design by James Fouchard; Lighting Design by Martha Carter; Original Sound Design by Aerick Harbert; Sound Design by Kate Weeker; Original Costume and Wig Design by Jackie Rebok; and Production State Manager Karen Schleifer.

Even though Uhry’s play was first performed in 1987, neither the story or the production is dated in any way. (He has the distinguishing honor of being the only American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar, and a Tony.) The moment Learned, Nichols, and Nevell take the stage, they fill the theater with their presence and take us back to marvel again at the timeless impact of Driving Miss Daisy

Laguna Playhouse Executive Director Ellen Richard says, “We are thrilled to ring in 2019 with this powerful and still vitally important play.”

As evidenced by the long-standing ovation on Sunday, it’s a “not to be missed” event.

Driving Miss Daisy will run through Sunday, Jan 27 with performances on Wednesday through Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 1 p.m. There will be added performances today, Jan 15, at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan 20, at 5:30p.m., and Thurs, Jan 24, at 2 p.m.

Tickets range from $55 - $85 and can be purchased online at or by calling (949) 497-2787.

For complete biographies of the actors and director, go to the Playhouse website listed above.

The Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Sawdust opening delayed, some artists cry foul


Sawdust Festival artists expected to be open for business on Friday. They learned last week that the city had delayed the opening of the pared-down arrangement proposed by festival officials.

City officials are scheduled to review the situation on Wednesday, based on state guidelines and Governor Newsom’s orders related to COVID-19, said Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis on Monday. 

Festival officials learned of the delay in an email on July 9 from Dupuis: 

“In light of recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Orange Country and the Governor’s recent order to close certain sectors, we would like to inform you that we can no longer authorize you to proceed with your planned events to start on July 17.

“We will be evaluating your plan based on the state guidelines on July 27 and will let you know that day if you can proceed with opening on July 31.

“We are very concerned about the number of guests at each location and recommend that you consider reducing the number of guests previously approved in your plan by half.

“I truly appreciate your understanding as we work through these difficult and ever changing times.”

The email was followed by a telephone conversation between Dupuis and Sawdust President Monica Prado in which Prado was informed that the first two weekends the festival lost from its normal beginning on the 4th of July weekend will not be permitted to be tacked onto the normal end of the show in September. 

Sawdust opening outdoor sign

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust “Outdoor Marketplace” opening postponed

However, Prado was also told that the city is very open to working with the festival on a Fall Marketplace based on the model devised for the 2020 summer show that limited the number of participating artists and the number of people allowed at one time on the grounds. 

“While the delay is unfortunate on many levels, our artists have for the most part received the news with grace, understanding that we have a duty to care for each other, our staff, and our patrons,” said Prado.

However, some artists are claiming the city isn’t playing fair by letting the Promenade on Forest stay open while keeping the festival closed.

“It’s not fair if one is open to all and not the other,” said longtime Sawdust artist Robert Holton.

Artist Karen Petty asked the City Council for an explanation of its policy. 

“Our show was cut down almost 75 percent and was scheduled to open July 17,” Petty wrote. “It is now postponed while the Promenade has become a popular gathering place, utilizing all festival gaieties including our ‘stilt people’,” wrote Petty. 

“For the record I am in total support of the Promenade and have been for many years. My hat is off to you all who pushed this project through. On the level of the business of City Council, the artists are looking for help to guide us and/or appeal to the County/State for advocating equal exhibition space.”

Laguna Playhouse Gala will feature Davis Gaines, Phantom of the Opera star, on May 12 

The spotlight will shine bright at the Laguna Playhouse’s annual gala on May 12, with special performances by “Phantom of the Opera” star Davis Gaines, a tribute to the Moulton Theatre’s 50th anniversary, and a host of highlights celebrated throughout the much-anticipated, elegant affair.

The nearly sold out 2018 Laguna Playhouse Gala will once again be held at Fashion Island Hotel, Newport Beach, featuring an elegant cocktail reception, fine dining, and live and silent auctions with exotic trips and Lugano Diamonds jewelry.

An intimate VIP experience with Davis Gaines, Los Angeles’ longest running Phantom star, special performances by the talented Playhouse Youth Theatre Conservatory kids and a performance by Davis are some of the evening’s highlights, followed by dancing to the sounds of a nine-piece band.

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Submitted Photo

Special performances that night will include Davis Gaines 

“Honoring the Moulton family on the 50th Anniversary of the Moulton Theatre is such a wonderful time to share the story of Lewis and Nellie Gail Moulton. Nellie Gail Moulton generously contributed to building the Laguna Moulton Playhouse in 1967,” said Event Co-chair and Season Producer Lisa Hale. “The Playhouse opened with its first performances in 1968 and the same structure continues today as The Laguna Playhouse and Moulton Theatre.”

“Nellie Gail loved Laguna and she loved The Playhouse. Our family helping to protect its history and secure its future is the right thing to do,” said great grandson and Playhouse Board Member, Jared Mathis. “This wonderful season at the Playhouse is the result off a huge increase in underwriting. Executive Director Ellen Richard and Artistic Director Anne Wareham said if we can get $250,000 in underwriting we can produce this season,” explained Hale. “I believed in them and the season, so I wrote the check.”

Popular actor Richard Burgi lauds the Moulton family and the Playhouse. He recently performed in back-to-back Laguna Playhouse hits, “The Graduate,” with Golden Globe winner Melanie Griffith, and “12 Angry Men.”

“Any family that puts their heart and resources into the arts I have a lot of admiration and gratitude for,” Burgi said. “I think there’s not enough of that in the world.”

Burgi added, “The resources at the theater, it’s just incredible. They put on incredible shows. I just encourage people to go out and support their local arts.” 

The Gala is the Laguna Playhouse’s biggest fundraising event of the year. “Last year’s Gala, under co-chairs Glenn Gray and Kathryn Burton Gray, grossed more than $600,000. It is a very large part of our annual fundraising number,” said Hale.

For more information on this upcoming event, contact Doug Vogel at (949) 204-5341.

Laguna Craft Guild will hold Art Show this Sunday from 9 a.m. – sundown at Main Beach

This Sunday, January 20 from 9 a.m. – sundown, the Laguna Craft Guild will hold an Art Show at Main Beach featuring local artists. There are always many treasures to be found at the show, you really never know what you’ll find. 

Laguna Craft table

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Submitted photo

Stop by the Main Beach cobblestones on Sunday for local handmade goods

Laguna Craft Guild is a small group of local Laguna Beach artists that sell their handmade goods on the cobblestones at Main Beach one to two times a month. Many of them are also Sawdust Festival artists.

The show is very special and a fun way to spend a Sunday strolling along the boardwalk with friends, family, and pets while gazing at the ocean. The Art Show is kind of like looking for that perfect seashell along the shoreline. 

For more information, visit or follow on Instagram at @lagunacraftguild.

LagunaTots is a hilarious show on what the next generation faces…with a serious edge


It was my first show at No Square Theatre on Saturday, and from the moment I got there, I felt the excitement all around. Once we entered the theatre, smiling faces greeted us from every corner.

The show kicked off with an exciting entrance and performance, “Main Event,” led by Jonah Goldstein. Once the kids came out with the level of talent and passion that they did, I knew it was going to be a show our whole family would remember. 

LagunaTots Tower

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Lula Buckle shines in “YouTube Star” 

Kids today have serious things to worry about: dress codes, vaccinations, phones, lice, social media…this original musical parody portrays these things they are facing with hilarious results. 

The highlight of the show for me was “Fortnite,” led by Chase Benson and Mason Bruderer, an amusing dance and song written to “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart, replaced with lyrics on the youth’s obsession with Fortnite.

LagunaTots Fortnite

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 “Fortnite” was a crowd favorite

“Adopt this Feline,” a skit on Laguna’s cat café Catmosphere, had me in tears from laughter. We had actually just been to the café that morning so it made it all the more relatable.

“Better Man,” a take on the Me Too Movement, set to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” highlighted the show’s second act.

No Square’s Youth Theatre Director Ella Wyatt wrote and directed the show (what a talent!), with additional lyrics by Rufino Cabang and some of the kids in the cast. Music direction for the show is by Susan Thoren. The show is choreographed by Ella with Rylee Bullington, a LagunaTots alumnus and senior at Laguna Beach High School. Rylee is featured in the high school’s current production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

LagunaTots Better Man

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“Better Man” highlighted the second act

The talented cast of LagunaTots includes Katie Baker, Chase Benson, Tatum Brennan, Will Briggs, Mason Bruderer, Lula Buckle, Story Bullington, Quinn Butler, Elisa Camacho, Nicolas Camacho, Harlo Cozzens, Sarina Doshi-O’Neil, Chloe Flaherty, Anna Gabriel, Laird Garcia, Grace Gilchrist, Jonah Goldstein, Lila Goldstein, Kate Hennessy, Hadley Hunt, Piper Hunt, Hannah Kaiser, Lauren Kimball, Lydia Kimball, Marco Lapayese-Calderon, Jude Lifeset, Sienna Mason, Maris Morgan, Douglas Nottage, Chloe O’Kane, Karina Pitz, Nathan Ryan, Kate Storke, Allie Swellen, Lila Tacklind, and Leah Turner.

Shows will continue on Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at 2 p.m., and Sunday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Go check it out and prepare to do some serious laughing. 

Tickets are $12 for kids (ages 12 and under) and $25 for adults. All seats are reserved, and this show always sells out. So plan ahead and get your tickets now at

No Square Theatre is located in Historic Legion Hall, 384 Legion St. It is a small venue and all seats are good.

Sawdust Festival sets up for summer

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust Festival poppies

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Cliff Wassmann’s finished mural for the 2019 Summer Sawdust – 

California poppies with painted lady butterflies, bees and dragonflies 

Sawdust Festival outside

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Opening Day is June 28 and soon there’ll be lines outside

Sawdust Festival sycamores

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Three new sycamore trees were planted along the main aisle of the Sawdust Art Festival, part of the ongoing plan to reestablish a natural shade canopy and restore the original grove with native trees

Sawdust Festival booths

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Sawdust exhibitor’s Andrew Soliz, Carrie Rae Woodburn, Nevada Silva (with his son), and Beau Donnan stand in their booth spaces for the summer 2019 show.

Booth Picking Day was May 7th – each person picks his/her space according to years spent exhibiting in the show. Now they have a little over a month to get the main structures built before inspections and then finishing details and art hung for Opening Day!

Laguna Beach Live! Blues is a Woman hits it out of the park with sensational show at [seven-degrees]

Story and photos by DIANNE RUSSELL

Blues is a Woman, described as “a mix of performance and history, with a cracker-jack all-woman band” blew it out of the water in a sensational musical show on Wednesday evening at [seven-degrees] in the Canyon. 

“Blues are the rhythm of life,” said one of the band members. And true to that statement, there was a lot of rhythm and blues going on for two jampacked hours. 

The show channeled storytelling and music to bring to life the contributions of generations of women to the blues, an art form too often associated with a man and a guitar. The musicians covered singers from Ma Rainey to Bonnie Raitt so authentically that the crowd might as well have been dancing in Congo Square in New Orleans.

Lustily-sung lines like “Don’t you feel it in your blood – don’t you feel it in your hips” reflected the energy in the packed room, a mix of men and women equally mesmerized. The musicians themselves vibrated with electricity, red hair bouncing, dreadlocks shaking, ponytails swinging to the beat.

Laguna Beach band

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(L-R) Pamela Rose, Ruth Davies, Pat Wilder, Kristen Strom, and Daria “Shani” Johnson

Each band member in her own right was a standout and together, they melded into a powerful combination that epitomized the “blues.”

Vocalist/author Pamela Rose has performed for decades both in and out of the country and has six recordings; Tammy Hall, music director/pianist/vocals has acted as music director and accompanied many acclaimed performers; Pat Wilder on guitar and vocals, has spent the past 30 years as guitarist in the Bay Area; Ruth Davies has lent her upright bass stylings to many internationally touring artists; Kristen Strom on saxophone and vocals has performed with many well-known artists; and Daria “Shani” Johnson on drums and vocals is one of the most sought after drummers in the Bay Area.

“Why wasn’t this on the stage at the Playhouse?” an attendee was overheard to say. True that the show deserved an even larger audience, but the intimacy of the venue and the packed crowd suited the show better.

Laguna Beach room

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Packed room for Blues is a Woman

“I’m loving it,” trustee Cindy Prewitt said. “Sold-out shows like this one hopefully get the message across that Laguna Beach Live! isn’t just about jazz – we bring Laguna a wide variety of high-quality musical performances, from a cappella to chamber music at the Art Museum to bluegrass at LCAD. And stay tuned for a truly international concert next year. We’re still working on the venue.”

The crowd left with favorite lyrics buzzing in their ears, from “If I only had my way, the graveyard is where my man would lay” to “If you don’t like my ocean, don’t fish in my sea.”

An awesome evening!

For more information on Laguna Beach Live!, go to

Neighborhood Jazz Concert in Bluebird Canyon backyard brings sounds to soothe the soul


It’s been said that, “Music does more than soothe the soul, it brings balance to the mind, body, and spirit.” With the world so off-kilter, there’s no doubt that we are all currently in need of a little balance. 

So, on Saturday afternoon, Craig and Ellen McKessar invited their upper Bluebird Canyon neighbors to enjoy a jazz concert featuring saxophonist Henry Alexander, but this was a concert with a twist. The venue was the McKessar’s backyard on Regatta Road and the audience members were comfortably situated at home on their own properties. 

Craig says, “With many stuck at home, we decided to invite an amazing musician from Los Angeles to play from our temporary ‘COVID garden’ backyard. Two 1,000-watt speakers carried sound to hundreds of neighbors in our mountainous setting, while we all socially distanced ourselves on our own properties. It turned out better than we envisioned as neighbors texted input and song requests throughout the performance and applauded from all over. We wanted to give back to our community with the sound of music and to support artists who are hit hard by these challenging times.” 

Neighborhood Jazz playing

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Courtesy of the McKessars

Henry Alexander plays for sequestered audience

With the breeze blowing through the trees on the McKessar’s beautiful property, and the delicious sound of the saxophone, it was the perfect venue. 

Henry Alexander grew up in Los Angeles and has been playing music since he was 16 years old and has decades of experience as a performer, a sought after studio session musician, and private instructor. He has played all over the United States: the Coach House, B.B. King’s, the House of Blues, and our own Laguna Beach Concert in the Park. The instruments he prefers to play are the saxophone, clarinet, and flute. Craig became friends with Henry when he was playing at another event.

Craig says, “Neighbors were given my cell number so that they could text song requests and share input prior and during the performance.”

A neighbor above the McKessars called Henry’s flute playing “majestic.” 

To prevent any neighborhood ruffling of feathers, the concert ended at 8 p.m. 

Craig says, “The feedback has been 100 percent positive thus far. There was a posting done by someone we do not know on Nextdoor. There are numerous pictures and video clips of the event. We heard applause as far away as one-fourth of a mile.” 

Neighborhood Jazz backyard

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Courtesy of the McKessars

Backyard venue 

After the concert, the neighbors showered the McKessars with complimentary messages. Craig says that there wasn’t one negative text or comment.

 “What a nice neighborhood gesture! Thank you from Scott and Carol Moore! We’ll be listening! ‘Satin Doll’ is our request, if possible. Thanks again and may you and all your family be safe and healthy!” 

“Thanks for filling the canyon with music!” 

“Hi there, this is your neighbor, Dawn Knepper, I live right above you on Bluebird Canyon. The music was delightful.” 

“We sat out and enjoyed it all the way through. Thank you very much!  Hopefully you can do it again!” 

“Thank you. Your offering is so lovely. Even the goats and coyotes in the Canyon are dancing.” 

 “Craig and Ellen, thank you so much, what a lovely concert. Our whole family has been really enjoying the music. Great idea, please do it again soon. The Stedman family”

“We love it! Sounds perfect throughout the canyon. Thanks for organizing!” 

“Thank you for brightening up our quarantine day!” 

“Hello! Yes it was amazing! My Dad was so happy to hear him play. He plays beautifully! It was a joy and the happiest thing that has happened in many weeks. Thank you so much for that. What can we do to have him back?  Can we donate? Pay? I can’t tell you how much joy it brought to us. It sounded like many people were listening and enjoying too.” 

Karin Klein said, “One of our neighbors in Upper Bluebird hired a jazz saxophonist to serenade the canyon for a couple of hours. I’m not even a jazz fan but it’s making for such a delightful evening. Thank you!”

Craig says, “I just wanted to do something nice, and it turned out so cool. It was better than I ever imagined.”

Thanks to the McKessars and Henry Alexander, for one glorious evening, the hills of Bluebird Canyon were alive with music that was savored by everyone within hearing distance – and a bit of balance was restored during our topsy-turvy times.

Opening night of Lagunatics brings out locals in outlandish costumes who laughed the night away

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

This year’s Lagunatics festivities began with an opening night costume party, “Pimp My Premiere.” Attendees wore creative garb, the sillier the better, while enjoying nibbles and libations.

Opening night Bree and friend

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No Square Theatre Founding Artistic Director, Bree Burgess Rosen, and friend

Opening night Buckle

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Laura Buckle and daughter Lula

Opening night goats

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Goats crossing Laguna Canyon Rd

Opening night community garden

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South Laguna Community Gardens

Opening night summer breeze

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Spoof of Summer Breeze

Opening night councilmembers

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Grand Finale – Council Candidates – “Someone just dropped out”

Lagunatics runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October, and closes on Sunday, Oct 28 with a FinalaGala party catered by Pavilions Newport Coast, and beverages provided by Absolution Brewing Company. 

Snacks and beverages are available at all other performances as well.

For ticket prices and more information, go to or call (949) 715-0333.

No Square Theatre is located at Legion Hall, 384 Legion St.

Laguna Beach Live! announces entertaining spring concert lineup to benefit kids

Laguna Beach Live! is pleased to present two unique and entertaining concerts coming this April and May to [seven-degrees]. The concerts benefit the award-winning Live! Music & Kids program. 

The program gives students the opportunity to connect to the joy and creativity of music, critical to their academic, social, and emotional growth. 

Laguna Beach Live! presents outreach programs, at no charge, to Laguna Boys & Girls Club and Laguna public schools. 

Laguna Beach guys

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M-PACT will take the stage on April 17

On April 17, M-PACT, hailed as “one of the best pop-jazz vocal groups in the world” by the San Francisco Chronicle, will take the stage. Imagine the smooth soul of Sam Smith, the percussive power of Stomp, the funk and groove of Bruno Mars, the sophisticated harmonies of Take 6, and the brass bite of the Michael Bublé Big Band…all created by the human voice alone.

Laguna Beach girls

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Blues is a Woman plays on May 15

On May 15, Blues is a Woman takes the stage. This ensemble of six talented musicians blurs the boundaries between concert and theater, using storytelling and music to bring to life the colorful history of the bold and singular women who wrote and popularized the blues. The voices of these women are vibrant, challenging, inspirational, and dynamic. 

Concerts are from 6 - 8 p.m. A full bar and buffet menu is available for purchase starting at 5 p.m. when doors open for dinner and social hour. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. VIP tickets are $100 and include preferred seating, Meet & Greet with artists, and a signed CD. 

Reservations can be made at or by phone calling (800) 595-4849. 

[seven-degrees] is located at 891 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Rock on down to Avenue Q as quickly as you can, only six performances left at No Square Theatre

Story and photos by DIANNE RUSSELL

This is not Electric Avenue, Electric Company, or Sesame Street. And just because they look like Muppets, the Avenue Q creatures are not your average kid-rated puppets, not by a long shot. These lovable mouthpieces watch porn on the internet, couple on bar tables, and might be just a little racist. Adorable, but raunchy, like Amy Schumer. 

What comes out of their mouths is unexpected, poignant, and timely – and made for a rollicking good time for the opening night audience, who showed their appreciation with a standing ovation. 

Bree Burgess Rosen, founding artistic director of No Square, introduced the play, which is based on the original concept. Created by Book of Mormon’s Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, this infamously dirty puppet-musical won Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score at the 2004 Tony Awards. Because of the audience’s close proximity to the cast, No Square Theatre is the perfect venue for this production. 

Rock on Kate

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Kate the Monster (Ella) 

After six years on Broadway, the show moved Off Broadway to New York’s New World Stages, where it has played since October 2009, spawning two national tours and a ton of international productions. 

How these No Square puppeteers sing, act, and manipulate the puppets – all at the same time – is an incredible feat. This endeavor is masterfully intertwined, often blurring the lines between the live and inanimate actors. It’s all so believable that it’s easy to forget where the human ends and the puppet begins. And it’s not often that puppets can elicit such a spectrum of emotions. 

Rock on Princeton

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Princeton (Eric)

During the performance, the audience gets to meet an array of characters like Princeton, a bright-eyed graduate who comes to New York City with big dreams and a tiny bank account. With a strong singing voice and stage presence, Eric Anderson brings Princeton to life as he tries to “find his purpose.” No Square attendees will remember Eric from My Ridiculous Valentine.

The puppets include Kate Monster, Princeton, Lucy the Slut, Nicky, Rod, Trekkie Monster, Mrs. Thistletwat, and the Bad Idea Bears.

Ella Wyatt as Kate Monster, a darling kindergarten teacher, possesses a beautiful vulnerability. Ella is also Lucy the Slut – the opposite of Kate in every way. Nicky (Jonathan Haidl) is a kind-hearted slacker, and he has a closeted gay roommate called Rod (Eric). 

Rock on Trekkie monster

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The internet porn watching Trekkie Monster (Jonathan Haidl) 

Mrs. Thistletwat is played by Sarah Loya who also is one of the Bad Idea Bears.

Filling out the puppet cast is an internet “sexpert” called Trekkie Monster and two Bad Idea Bears, who often present Princeton with some very bad ideas. Puppets shouldn’t drink!

McKay Mangum brings his puppeteer expertise to the show as Puppet Master. Rylee Bullington and Lila Goldstein serve multiple roles as puppeteers and dressers.

The human cast of characters also includes Brian, played by Richard Wayne Kilgo II, an out-of-work comedian who is engaged to a therapist called Christmas Eve, played by Gloria Henderson. Eileen Goodwin does a formidable job as Gary Coleman.

Rock on all group

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Talented cast: (L-R) Brian played by Richard Wayne Kilgo II, Gloria Henderson as Christmas Eve, Kate Monster, Ella Wyatt, Lucy the Slut, Princeton, Eric Anderson, Rod, Bad Idea Bears with Sarah Loya, Nicky, Jonathan Haidl, Trekkie Monster, Eileen Goodwin as Gary Coleman, and Lila Goldstein, puppeteer

A couple of the obvious audience pleasing songs are “If You were Gay,” “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “The Internet is for Porn.” On the poignant side, Ella superbly sings “There’s a Fine, Fine Line.”

The band, comprised of Music Director/Pianist/Conductor Roxanna Ward, Carlos Rivera, Lou Savage on Bass, Mark Sproull on Guitar, David Page on Drums, and Chris Carbjal – Woodwinds, provided adept accompaniment.

Off stage, many others contributed to this wonderful evening of entertainment: Director Joe Lauderdale, Stage Manager/Scenic Artist Marley Oyen, Sound Artist Danny Rios, Set Designer Tim Mueller, and Lighting Designer Benedict Conran, with costumes by Brigitte Harper, Bree, and Company.

Rock on Lucy and Princeton

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Lucy the Slut and Princeton with Christmas Eve in the background

Don’t waste time, rush to Ave Q. It’s described as “The Tony-Award winning musical that’s part flesh, part felt & packed with heart.” The puppets – and their humans – will capture your heart in more ways than one. There’s still time to catch the show on Friday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m.

For tickets, go to

No Square Theatre is located at 384 Legion St.

Festival season ends, trolley hours cut back, work resumes on Village Entrance


Regardless of calendars or temperatures, summer is over in Laguna when the three art festivals close. Starting September 3, trolley service is cut back and the next phase of construction on the Village Entrance resumes. 

Weekend Coastal Trolleys will be in operation from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays; from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays; and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Festival Season trolley

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Starting today, trolley service is cut back

Neighborhood Trolleys that service Arch Beach Heights, Bluebird Canyon, and Top of the World will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays; from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays; and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. 

Routes that service North or South Laguna will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays. It was announced there will be no service on Sunday for these routes. 

Real-time location of all the trolleys is available on the Visit Laguna Beach app. The “Trolley/Bus Tracker” function will provide arrival times. 

For more information, visit

Village Entrance

Phase 2A of the Village Entrance begins today. 

The City Employee Lot and the parking area behind City Hall will be closed for this phase of the project.

Festival Season trolley

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Phase 2A of Village Entrance begins 

A portion of newly constructed Lot 11, located at the intersection of Laguna Canyon Rd and Forest Ave, will remain open to the public. Lot 10, located next to Art-A-Fair, and Lot 12, adjacent to City Hall on Forest Ave, will be reserved for city vehicles and employee parking Monday through Friday. 

Lots 10 and 11 will be available for public parking on weekends. 

For more information, visit the Village Entrance website at

Compiled from city reports.

Jonathan Burke, president of LCAD, announces retirement

Forty years at Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD). Ten years as President and CEO. The “Lucky 13th” President of the College. Five leadership roles on his journey to the top. 

There’s something oddly comforting and natural in celebrating milestone numbers for leaders. But the truth is that the real markers of Jonathan Burke’s success are not tied to rounded numbers or anniversaries. They are tied to the intangibles: the strategic relationships he cultivated along the way, the community-centric culture that he propagated throughout the organization, the academic rigor for which he held everyone accountable, and the leadership that successfully guided the college and its people to achieve the international standing that LCAD has today.

As he formally announces his retirement (effective December 31, 2020), members of the LCAD community reflect on the profound impact his leadership has had on the institution, its people, and the communities it serves.

Jonathan Burke Jonathan

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Jonathan Burke delights in taking visitors on tours of the LCAD campus

Jared Mathis, current Chairman of the LCAD Board of Trustees, speaks of the enthusiastic and undying affection that the Board collectively shares for Burke. “His infectious smile, great warmth, and unassuming brand of leadership will be sorely missed. His spirit is woven into the fabric of the college.

“Under his leadership, LCAD has transformed into a premier art college with global recognition. From breathtaking advancements in LCAD’s facilities and technology to the creation of cutting-edge majors, Jonathan Burke implemented his vision for LCAD with a steady hand. Jonathan’s remarkable reputation in the industry, his love of the arts, and great connection to our Laguna Beach community will be impossible to replace,” Mathis adds.

Burke joined LCAD, then known as Laguna Beach School of Art, as a Fine Arts instructor in 1980. His rapport with the students and his extraordinary artistic talents positioned him for growth and leadership within the organization. He soon took on the responsibilities of Chair of Fine Arts, then Dean of Fine Arts, Interim Dean of Visual Communications, and Co-VP of Academic Affairs, which led him to his role as President and CEO.

During Burke’s tenure as President, the school experienced unprecedented evolution and improvements that positioned LCAD for strategically-minded and responsibly-managed growth that allowed the college to provide the state-of-the-art facilities and extensive services to its staff, faculty, and, most importantly, its students. 

Jonathan Burke door

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Forward-thinking programs were added under Burke’s leadership

The college added East Campus, which houses the Suzanne Chonette Senior Studios and the Administration Building; South Campus, home to campus housing, AR/VR, graphic design, fine arts photography classrooms, and photography and recording studios; the LCAD Gallery in downtown Laguna Beach; and expansion of the Big Bend Campus, home to classrooms and studios for animation, graphic design, and game art.

“Jonathan has been the heart and soul of this institution since its early days and his commitment to excellence and creativity will long endure at LCAD. I am grateful for the many years we worked together and I know that he will be missed,” stated Hélène Garrison, Chief Operating Officer and Provost of LCAD, who has worked alongside Burke for 35 years.

 With Burke at the helm, the school also added the MFA programs in Drawing, Painting, and Game Design, a Post-Baccalaureate program, and new majors including Entertainment Design and Experimental Animation.

A constant voice and advocate for the students, Burke is a driving force behind the development of a capital campaign to build a new student center at the Big Bend Campus, designed to enhance the student experience.

Terry Jones, Mathis’ successor as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, says, “As Jonathan Burke embarks on his well-deserved retirement, he can find solace in knowing that the LCAD community will carry on this legacy in every aspect of the institution. His heart and soul are – and always will be – embedded deep within the DNA of the school.

Artists Fund at FOA exhibits Board members’ work at City Hall now through May 22

The Artist Fund at Festival of Arts is exhibiting a Board of Directors’ show at City Hall, located at 505 Forest Ave, now through May 22, during regular hours. Exhibiting board members include Geraldine Cropser, Anne England, Roger Folk, Elizabeth McGhee, Rick Graves, and Wendy Wirth.

Founded by Anne England in 2000, the organization provides financial aid to Festival artists suffering hardship due to disaster, medical or unfortunate circumstances. A separate scholarship fund provides grants to artists for professional growth. 

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Submitted Photo

Elizabeth McGhee’s portraits are among The Artists Fund show at City Hall 

The non-profit organization recently received a donation from the Gross Family Charitable Foundation, which will increase funding of both grants for artists. 

“We are extremely grateful to the Foundation for this generosity.” said Shirley Rush, President. Additional board members include Karen Alvarado, Angela Goodwin, Roseanne Nolan, and Hugo Rivera.

To contact The Artists Fund, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call (949) 612-1949 or log onto

coastal eddy a gallery presents annual holiday party on Dec 9

On Sunday, Dec 9 from 3 - 6 p.m., coastal eddy presents #ThisIsNotNormal…still Holiday Party. The event will feature new art, a raffle drawing, music, food and fun, and will benefit Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation.

coastal eddy window

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coastal eddy is Laguna’s only ceramic art gallery

Laguna Beach has a rich history in ceramic art and needed a gallery to represent both the past and present in ceramic techniques, and coastal eddy does just that. 

Starting with local artists, the gallery has grown to 32 artists over that past 5 years, including artists from around the country and Canada. From functional ware to abstract sculpture, the ever-changing collection is meant to inspire. 

coastal eddy is located at 1417 S Coast Hwy, in the HIP district of Laguna. 

For more information or to RSVP, contact (949) 715-4113 or visit

Laguna Playhouse presents The Skivvies including special guest Jason Feddy on Dec 10 & 11

Laguna Playhouse brings back last year’s sensation in an all-new outrageous holiday event, The Skivvies: I Touch My Elf, with two performances only on Monday, Dec 10 and Tuesday, Dec 11 at 7:30 p.m. This year’s guests include: Jason Feddy, Laguna’s resident rock star; Nick Adams from the Falsettos national tour; Nicole Parker from the Wicked national tour; Seamus Dever from Castle; and Kirsten Vangsnes who plays Penelope Garcia in Criminal Minds. 

Laguna Playhouse Jason

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Courtesy of

Laguna’s own rock star Jason Feddy will be a guest star in the show

Broadway’s Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley return to the Laguna Playhouse for two nights of the most outrageous holiday show of the season. This undie-rock, comedy pop, award-winning duo perform stripped down, mashed up versions of holiday favorites and more. Expect to see ukulele, electric cello, and an array of zany instruments as well as many special guest artists performing along with, and some even in their own “Skivvies.” 

Tickets range from $51 - $56 and can be purchased online at or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787). Group discounts are available by calling (949) 497-2787 ext. 229. Prices are subject to change.     

Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Jazz Wednesdays presented by Laguna Beach Live! features acclaimed guitarist Will Brahm on Feb 27

On Wednesday, Feb 27, acclaimed guitarist Will Brahm and the World Music All-Stars, featuring vocalist Adryon de Leon, will take the stage for another fantastic night of Jazz Wednesdays with Laguna Beach Live! at [seven-degrees]. 

Jazz Wednesdays Will

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Acclaimed guitarist Will Brahm 

Guitarist and composer Will Brahm tours extensively within the United States and has also toured to Asia, Canada, and Europe with his music. He also plays with the critically acclaimed New West Guitar Group and has worked with artists including The Gordon Goodwin Phat Band, Kim Richmond, Jimmy Branly, Otmaro Ruiz, Gretchen Parlato, Sara Gazarek, and Jane Monheit. His new album “Venture Atlas” is to be released in the spring of 2019. 

Jazz Wednesdays Leon

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Guest vocalist Adryon de Leon

Jazz Wednesdays concerts are from 6 - 8 p.m., with doors opening at 5. A full bar and buffet dinner menu are available for purchase starting at 5 p.m. 

Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Seating is assigned. Reservations are accepted until noon on day of concert or until sold out. The last two concerts have been sold out so buying your tickets early is recommended. 

For more information, visit www.lagunabeachlive.orgor call (949) 715-9713.

[seven-degrees] is located at 891 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Arts supporters get an early call, coffee and snacks provided


The Laguna Beach Arts Alliance (LBAA) will host a forum this Saturday, Sept 29 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Laguna Playhouse. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and doughnuts served on the terrace. Seating is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

 Former Mayor Jane Egly will moderate the forum, which will address arts and cultural issues in Laguna Beach.

“The forum is a great opportunity to get to know the candidates and learn where they stand on arts and cultural issues,” said LBAA Marketing Coordinator Deena Harros. 

 Candidates will be asked to respond to pre-selected questions, including the need for performance space, artist work live and affordable housing, parking needs in the Civic Art District and comments on public art. They will also be questioned on whether the City should require arts supporting elements in the design of artists’ affordable housing, exhibit space, performance space, and meeting space in any major new or remodeling construction in the Art District.

Questions were selected by the Forum Committee: LBAA President Rosemary Swimm, past President Wayne Baglin, Arts Commissioner Pat Kolllenda, Laguna College of Art and Design President Jonathan Burke, Laguna Dance Festival Executive Director Joy Deitberner, Laguna Playhouse Marketing Director Dee Dee Irwin and Harros.

No questions will be taken from the audience. 

Candidates will have the opportunity to give opening and closing statements, limited to one minute. If time allows, five questions will be posed, with a one-minute limit on responses.

Sawdust Art Festival embraces holiday spirit with 28th Annual Winter Fantasy starting this Saturday

Sawdust Art & Craft Festival is pleased to announce the official start of its 28th annual Winter Fantasy this Saturday, Nov 17 with a community tree lighting ceremony featuring local students from Top of the World Elementary Honor Choir and over a dozen trees decorated by local organizations. 

Sawdust Art outside

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Walking in a Sawdust winter wonderland

For five weekends, through Sunday, Dec 16, event-goers of all ages can experience a festive wonderland aglow with thousands of lights and decorations, featuring 182 artists and makers, live holiday performances, glassblowing demos, festival classes, and satisfying offerings from various eateries, cafes and saloon.

Breakfast with Santa

An extra special occasion this year will be Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec 8 with the Laguna Beach Firefighters Association. All proceeds of the pancake breakfast will go towards Spark of Love, and Sawdust Art Festival will also be a drop-off location for the Spark of Love toy drive throughout the festival season. 

To further encourage the giving spirit, attendees will receive free admission on Sundays with the donation of an unwrapped toy.

Sawdust Art santa

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Say hi to Santa at a special pancake breakfast and toy drive 

Community Tree Night

Another highlight of the season is the Community Tree Night on Saturday, Dec 1 at 5 p.m., an evening honoring the 12 local organizations participating in Winter Fantasy’s annual community tree program. 

There will also be an enchanting Towne Square featuring daily photo opportunities with Santa at his cottage, in addition to a host of other magical moments with puppeteers, a balloon diva, falling snow, and the beloved gingerbread playhouse.

Lastly, there will be three stages of holiday music and entertainment, with food and refreshments from Deb’s Deli, Espresso on the Go, Fran’s Popcorn, Sawdust Saloon, Evan’s Gourmet Bistro, Tacos Durrell, and GG’s Mediterranean Express.

Presale tickets are available and the cost is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors (65+), and $4 for children (6– 12). Admission is free for children five years and younger. Season passes are $12. 

For more information, as well as a comprehensive list of events and special features at this year’s Winter Fantasy, visit

No Square Theatre’s Annie is one of the best shows you will see in Laguna all year

No Square Annie 1

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It’s a Hard Knock Life: No Square Theatre’s Annie production receives five stars and a standing ovation from Stu News Laguna

No Square Annie 2

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I Don’t Need Anything But You: Rob Harryman (Oliver Warbucks) and Tessa Espinola (Annie) shine in this heartwarming tale of father-daughter love, hope, and redemption

No Square Annie 3

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Easy Street: Laura Buckle (Lily St. Regis), Karen Rymar (Miss Hannigan), and Tyler Below (Rooster) executed their parts to perfection

No Square Annie 4

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Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow makes a cameo appearance as Judge Brandeis

For tickets to Annie, go to

7-year-old FOA Youth Art ceramist wins multiple national honors

The Festival of Arts is thrilled to announce that Fitz Gfeller, a 7-year-old ceramics student from the Festival of Arts Youth Art Classes, received multiple national honors and recognition for his piece titled “Master Fish.” 

The Orange County student was selected from hundreds of entries nationwide and received Honorable Mention from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), the ICAN Elementary Award, and a Bailey Pottery cash award.

“The Festival of Arts youth classes are a summer favorite for my children because of the amazing instructors,” commented Erika Gfeller, Fritz’s mother. “Fritz really connected with Marty because Marty encourages the kids to push limits, be creative, and to not be limited by what something ‘should’ look like. As the youngest of my four children, this experience has really made Fritz feel special and we thank Marty and the Festival of Arts team for that.”

Gfeller’s imaginative “Master Fish” mask is a ceramics piece he made in the Festival’s Youth Art Classes last summer (2018) with instructor Marty Barth. The class was Gfeller’s third ceramics class and he shared that his mask was inspired by “fish big and little and all colors of the rainbow.”

7 year old winner

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7-year-old FOA Youth Art ceramist Fitz Gfeller wins top national honors

Gfeller’s piece was awarded the NCECA Honorable Mention award and the 2019 ICAN Elementary School Award (given out to only one student out of over 500 entries). His mask stood out among the hundreds of art pieces submitted across the nation, and was also honored with a cash award from Bailey Pottery. “Master Fish” will be on display for the public to enjoy in the Junior Art Exhibit at the Festival grounds this summer.

In addition to the young artist’s enrollment in the youth art classes, the Gfeller family are regular attendees to the Festival of Arts and the different art programs offered each summer. Erika Gfeller recalled her son’s first Festival of Arts hands-on art experience when he was three years old, making prints at the Art Center 

“As a family, we love how art can grow us,” stated Gfeller. “The visual manifestation of imagination is the best part of the children’s art classes at Festival of Arts. We get to see what our kids dream about.”

Erika Gfeller adds, “Fritz will absolutely be returning to the Festival of Arts this summer, along with his three siblings. We are considering the new unlimited program (Art Explorers), because he is just so excited to make art.”

The Festival of Arts is now accepting reservations for Youth Art Classes, available July 8 - August 17, Monday through Friday from 1 - 3 p.m., open to children ages 5-12. In addition to ceramics, classes are available in painting, printmaking, assemblage, and more. Each youth art class is $20 per student. Ceramic classes are $30. Space is limited and reservations are required.

New this year is the Festival of Arts Art Explorers program. Purchase online for unlimited youth art classes all summer long. Other perks of the Art Explorers program include special VIP entrance passes, a kid’s art apron, gift shop discounts and more.

To sign up for Youth Art Classes or Art Explorers at the Festival of Arts, visit or call (949) 464-4234. 

The Festival of Arts Fine Arts Show will take place July 5 through August 31, at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd.

LagunaTunes brings the Beatles to LBHS Artists’ Theatre – along with a yellow submarine 


On Sunday afternoon, LagunaTunes Community Chorus, under the direction of Bob Gunn, took the audience on a joyous and sentimental journey down memory lane – and “Penny Lane” along with 21 other tunes – recreating the music of the Fab Five. The chorus sang with heart and a considerable amount of talent, and it was impossible not to want to sing along.

LagunaTunes brings submarine

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Photo by Scott Brashier 

This yellow submarine was only a small part of the glorious show. For the full melodic story, tune in to Barbara Diamond’s Column on Friday.

Rock for the Cause to benefit Friendship Shelter features local duo Ruby Haunt on Feb 12


Rock for the Cause, which benefits Friendship Shelter, is always a great evening of fun, wonderful food, and amazing live music. This year’s event will be held at Mozambique on Wednesday, Feb 12 from 6 - 10 p.m., and tickets are now on sale.

Each ticket will include entry into the event, two hosted drinks, and appetizers. Additionally, Mozambique is generously donating 20 percent of all food and beverage sales back to Friendship Shelter. 

Rock for the Cause is a festive and raucous event to aid Friendship Shelter’s work ending homelessness in south Orange County. Stu News Laguna owner Shaena Stabler and local architect Marshall Ininns are co-hosting the event. The two are on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit together and have been co-hosting the event for almost a decade.

“I think this is the eighth year I have co-hosted with Marshall,” says Stabler. “Marshall asked Stu if we might want to get involved together. Stu told me ‘we’re doing it,’ and thus began my journey with Friendship Shelter. Stu had no idea of my first-hand experience with homelessness at the time.”

Asked what her connection to homelessness is, Stabler says, “I experienced homelessness – as a young child and in my early 20s. It’s something that impacted me personally. But it doesn’t define me anymore – I have a home, a community, and a very good life – in a way, it feels like an echo for me now.”

Rock for the Cause Shaena and Marshall

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Photo by Lisa Farber

(L-R) Marshall Ininns and Shaena Stabler at past Rock for the Cause event; together they have hosted almost a decade of events to benefit Friendship Shelter

Featured at the event will be Frank Turner Simes, who is a Grammy-nominated and platinum-record awarded musician, guitarist, songwriter, composer, and record producer. Simes is the musical director for Roger Daltrey, and has recorded and performed with Mick Jagger, Don Henley, and Stevie Nicks. As The Who and Roger Daltrey’s musical director and multi-instrumentalist, he has brought fresh elements to the sounds and arrangements for the world tours of Tommy, Quadrophenia, and The Who Hits 50!, as well as the 2012 Olympics performance. 

At this year’s Rock for the Cause, there will be an added musical bonus. Ruby Haunt – made up of two Laguna born and raised musicians, Wyatt Ininns and Victor Pakpour, will be performing in their hometown for the first time. They have joined the show to kick off the event before Frank Simes’ band.

Stabler is especially excited that Ruby Haunt is performing this year. “I have been listening to Ruby Haunt for five years; I was first exposed to them through Marshall (Wyatt’s father). I was immediately hooked to their music, they are so talented. Honestly, they could be future Grammy winners. I am just so excited to see where their path takes them and can’t wait to listen to them live on February 12th at Rock for the Cause.”

Marshall Ininns says, “I am very  proud of my son and his fast growing music career. I am even more proud of him for his willingness to give his time and talent to help resolve homelessness in southern Orange County.”

Rock for color duo

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Wyatt Ininns (on left) and Victor Pakpour

Ruby Haunt is an American musical project conceived by childhood friends Ininns and Pakpour sometime in 2015. The duo wrote their first three EPs while in school via opposite ends of the west coast (Los Angeles and Portland), exchanging musical ideas over email. During this time, they received support from Nowness, Henrik Purienne, Vogue Italia, and various taste-making YouTube channels for their unique songwriting and self-produced music videos.

They now have produced five albums: Sugar, 2016; Nevada, 2017; Blue Hour, 2018, Bully, 2019, and Middle of Nowhere, 2019.

The duo became close friends in middle school and found they were inspired by the same music. Ininns sings and writes lyrics, and Pakpour composes the songs and produces. 

Evidently, the match is working, as they have received rave reviews.

Their music has been depicted as alternative/indie, which by definition, means it doesn’t fit into any particular genre.

A review introducing Ruby Haunt on in August of 2016 says, “Currently based in L.A., this duo is making some of the best minimal pop I’ve heard in a long time. Ruby Haunt takes after more of an aesthetic than a genre.”

Aesthetic is the perfect word. I agree, no matter the song – whether pop, a ballad, or one with a nostalgic melody – it’s all gorgeous and artful.

In a review in Honey Punch Magazine, Emma Watts says, “What I love so much about music is that the simplest of sounds put into an interesting pattern can affect your emotions and what you’re visualizing in your head. With these songs you can feel on top of the world, out of this world, or the smallest thing in the world.”

After listening to their song “Honey,” I would describe their sound as silky and smooth as honey. It’s liquid, and lush, and haunting at times. 

Rock for playing

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Ruby Haunt performing

A 2019 review of the their album Middle of Nowhere on janglepophub.home says, “This Los Angeles based two piece, consisting of Wyatt Ininns and Victor Pakpour, certainly know how to develop the aural soundscapes within their songs with ‘Cobwebs,’ ‘Answering Machine’ and the impeccable ‘Breather displaying a somewhat unnerving ability to attach a musical picture to an initial isolated jangle-gaze riff and then creating subtle and multiple layers of sound upon this foundation of beauty.”

I have no idea what a jangle-gaze riff is, but it sounds as if it’s a good thing.

Asked about their appearance at Rock for the Cause, Ininns says, We have always admired what the Friendship Shelter does, and we are super excited to be able to take part in such a great event. Victor and I both grew up in Laguna but this will be our first time playing a concert in town. We are thrilled to be able to join this year and get to play alongside some amazing musicians for a good cause.”

Pakpour agrees, “We are really humbled to be included in the cause. My band member Wyatt and I have lived in Laguna our whole lives and have seen first-hand the impact that homelessness has had on those individuals. We are happy to support this fundraiser and are excited to be playing for members of our hometown trying to make a difference.” 

Giving back 

Stabler says of her time homeless, “With that experience comes a responsibility to give back. I’ve definitely had angels along the way, people who have mentored me and lifted me up. I feel it’s my responsibility to ‘pay it forward’ and help others too.

“With Friendship Shelter, I am able to give back and support a nonprofit that is doing the work to end homelessness – which means literally getting people off the streets and into housing because then they are no longer ‘homeless’. From there, the services and ‘path up’ can happen. It all starts with housing – get a roof over your head, and then anything is possible. Without housing, without the stability of knowing that you have a place to rest your body and mind for the night, it’s almost impossible to do be the best version of yourself that you were meant to be.”

So come out and join the fun, enjoy the food and fantastic musical entertainment – and celebrate Ruby Haunt’s first time playing in Laguna – all for a good cause.

Tickets start at $75 and are available on Friendship Shelter’s website at

For more information on Friendship Shelter’s programs and services, visit

Mozambique is located at 1740 South Coast Hwy.

President of Laguna College of Art and Design Jonathan Burke says goodbye

Dear LCAD Community, 

I will be stepping down after ten years as President of Laguna College of Art and Design, effective December 31, 2020. I’ve pondered this decision and feel this is the right time. I leave with great love and devotion for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the Board of Trustees. 

Forty years ago, I came to LCAD as a faculty member with a dream to establish the finest of art colleges. The history of this college is a success story and I’m so pleased to have participated in making that vision a reality. As I reflect on our accomplishments, I am grateful for what we have achieved while I have been president, and I’m confident the college will continue to be a creative and inspiring place to learn, create, and grow as an artist and global citizen.

President of closeup

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Jonathan Burke

Through collective efforts, we developed a road map for the future that enhances the student experience. In the final six months of my presidency, there is much to be done to continue supporting our students. To that end I will continue to focus on the planning phase for a new Student Center. The spirit of this project is to create a supportive learning environment for all students, and will offer services to any student who has unique learning challenges. I thank everyone involved and have been touched by your efforts. 

As I think about my future, I am eager to return to my first passion: spending valuable time in the studio drawing and painting, as well as a desire to return to the wonderful community of representational artists. More than ever, I firmly believe in the value of an art and design college. LCAD continues to provide the best conditions for a creative person to transform and communicate their passion to be an artist into a relevant and fulfilling life and career. 

I will sincerely miss all of you. I trust that LCAD will continue to make the world a more beautiful and meaningful place for all of us.

Film Night at LAM: Dr. Strangelove will be shown on Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m. – free admission

Artist Jorg Dubin will introduce a personal favorite at Film Night at Laguna Art Museum on Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m.: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

More commonly known as Dr. Strangelove, the film is a 1964 political satire/black comedy that satirizes the Cold War fears of a nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. 

In it, an insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop. The film was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick, and is loosely based on Peter George’s thriller novel Red Alert.

Advance tickets are recommended. Reserve tickets online at or call (949) 494.8971 x203.

Don’t miss exciting new LAM exhibit, Self-Help Graphics

Laguna Art Museum announces the opening of Self-Help Graphics, 1983-1991, an exhibition of prints from the large Self-Help Graphics collection purchased by the museum in 1992 with the help of Charlie Miller, René and Norma Molina, and funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, on exhibit through May 27.

Self-Help Graphics is an East Los Angeles printmaking workshop and arts center that emerged from the Chicano movement of the 1960s. It was founded by Sister Karen Boccalero, who was inspired by the committed social and political commentary she saw in the silkscreen prints made by her fellow nun, the celebrated Sister Corita Kent. In 1982, Boccalero launched the Screenprint Atelier program, which provided Chicano and Latino artists of the Los Angeles region with studio facilities, materials, and the technical guidance of a master printer. The result was an extraordinary and exuberant flowering of the silkscreen print.

Check out LAM

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Ricardo Gonsalves, “Don Juan’s Got the Blues,” 1988, silkscreen (18 colors) is on display at Laguna Art Museum

Self-Help Graphics, 1983-1991 includes 16 works by Glenna Boltuch Avila, Alfredo de Batuc, Yreina Cervántez, Sam Coronado, Alex Donis, Ricardo Gonsalves, José Lozano, Delilah Montoya, Malaquías Montoya, Raoul de La Sota, Gilbert “Magu” Luján, Miguel Angel Reyes, Frank Romero, Eloy Torrez, and Patssi Valdez. The exhibit is on view through May 27.

In conjunction with the exhibition, on May 23, the museum will host Victor Hugo Viesca, Cal State LA professor and co-producer of the Self-Help Graphics oral history project, for a talk titled “Creating Our Own World Where We Belong: The Cultural Value of Self Help Graphics & Art.”

Admission is free for members and students 17 and younger, $15 for adults, and $5 for students 18 plus and seniors 60 plus. 

For more information, call (949) 494-8971 or visit

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

53rd Annual Summer Sawdust Art Festival kicks off festivities with the expected and unexpected


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Just inside the gates of the Sawdust Festival, gold stars and a space ship greet visitors. It makes perfect sense, as the Sawdust, by all rights, is its own universe. One anticipates entering another world – the sights and sounds are exclusive to this particular space – and that’s the wonder of it.

53rd Annual mad hatter

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Mad Hatter – Robert Holton – welcome to the world of the Sawdust Art Festival 

Walking under the gold stars was the perfect introduction to the 53rd Annual Summer Sawdust Art Festival. “Expect the unexpected” is the theme this year, and who imagines looking up and seeing stars among the trees when it’s still light. But then who expects to see – the Mad Hatter, a fairy princess, a dragon, puppets, and a clothes designer doing a whirling dervish? Those are only a few of the delights among the 192 artists and makers (9 are guest artists) represented.

One always expects the work of the Sawdust artists to be unique, but this year seems particularly innovative. It’s a wonderful blend of seasoned and new exhibitors.

53rd Annual puppet

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Artists Natasha and Sandra Weir – mom and daughter dressed to match their booth themes

Heidi Miller, owner of Tight Assets downtown, said, “A little mist couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Preview night at Sawdust. Everyone kicked it up a notch this year, with themed booths and even an Avenue of the Stars and a spaceship to welcome all. With the new artists complimenting the seasoned veterans, fabulous décor, and a huge dragon watching over the festival, this year is out of this world! As I exited I overheard several people clutching purchases exclaim, “this is the best ‘Dust in years! Wow!”

53rd Annual artists

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Artists Katlin, Emily, Reem, Makaila, and Ora

Jane Slowsky is celebrating her 50th year exhibiting. She said of preview night, “Yes, I really enjoyed the evening. 50 years and planning more as I am now 91 working on 100. I was on the board when we created the Sawdust Festival and am one of the original exhibiters for our first year. My daughter Patty Slowsky has been my partner all these years as she made macramé keychains, that was the time we could sell our children’s artwork, and she has stayed with me all these years. We share our booth space with Patty’s husband, John Enfield, he does wood. Patty and John have combined their skills a few times. Patty and I try to make our glass fun and exciting and a new idea for glass each year.”

53rd Annual Slowsky

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Janet Koelle writing up a sale for Jane Slowsky, who is celebrating her 50th year in the Sawdust

Once local band Party Foul began to play, it was difficult not to gravitate toward the deck. The Sawdust continually hosts great musicians, and they were a terrific choice to usher in the summer season. 

The Sawdust Festival brochure explains, “During the process of making art, unexpected things will happen, and that is what makes it unique and beautiful. This year is about tapping into the creative power of art, which changes how we view the world.”

53rd Annual Evans

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Alex Evans, Father of dragons

After experiencing the 53rd Summer Sawdust, you can’t help but see the world a little differently. 

The Sawdust opens today, Friday, June 28, and runs through Sunday, September 1. It is open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.

Upcoming special events for the next week include Live Art Demos, every Monday at 5 p.m., Tropical Tuesdays beginning on July 2, Mardi Gras Day on July 6, and docent-led tours of the grounds every Wednesday at 3 and 5 p.m.

The Sawdust Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Rd.

For more information on events, workshops, and music, go to

For more photos by Mary Hurlbut, see slideshow below

Open casting call for Pageant of the Masters Made in America draws a crowd of hopefuls


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

As a kid, if you ever played the game “freeze,” you remember what it’s like to stay completely still – no twitching, no blinking, no scratching – it’s challenging to say the least. As most everyone knows, because the Pageant of the Masters’ cast re-creates famous artworks and sculptures known as “tableaux vivants,” or living pictures, the cast members must remain perfectly still for 90 seconds. 

No theater experience is necessary to attend the casting call. The only requirement is the ability to stand still and have fun, and the cast must have a lot of fun, since many return year after year.

According to Marketing Coordinator for Festival of the Arts Meghan Perez, over the past weekend, there were about 900 people who attended the three-day casting call for this year’s Pageant, Made in America. “We are expecting more sign-ups over the next couple weeks with people coming in for appointments. We’re encouraging anyone who was interested and couldn’t make it over the weekend to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule a time to get measured.”

Open casting Bainbridge

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First time at casting call – (L-R) Katy Bainbridge, age 9, Gaby Bainbridge, age 11, and mom Michelle Bainbridge

Granted, it’s not a small commitment – seven days on and seven days off (Monday - Sunday) from July 8 - September 3 for at least two and a half to three hours a night. (Those not chosen go onto a summer substitute list of around 200.) Plus there are rehearsals every other Thursday beginning earlier in the year.

Of the approximately 1,000+ men, women, and children who sign up during a three-day casting call, 150 will be picked for the A team and 150 for the B team. Two cast members of similar (if not identical) height and body type are chosen for each part, a necessity since the cast has alternating weeks off. Ages range from 5 years to 85 years of age. As the sets are developed (two to three at a time), selection of cast members continues throughout the months of January to June. 

Construction Foreman David Talbot, who has been with the Pageant for 10 years, says, “We have eight sets built already. We’re ahead of the game.”

Standing still is only a part of what each potential cast member goes through during Pageant of the Masters. Quite a bit happens well before that first step on the set in July. 

Open casting Butch

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Technical Director Richard “Butch” Hall

Once the prospective cast members climb the stairs and enter the backstage area, paperwork is handed over to The Pageant’s Technical Director Richard “Butch” Hall, who directs them to the next step. Throughout the process, each will be measured 35 times (at different stations all manned by volunteers). They will also be photographed and meet the behind-the-scenes Pageant staff.

Pageant volunteers are also needed for the wardrobe, make-up, and headdress departments, as well as cast area coordinators and refreshment servers, among other positions. About 300 people are expected to be included in the pageant cast (two groups split into 150 volunteers each) and an additional 200 will help behind the scenes.

Brittany Clark Charnley, who started as a youngster in the Pageant, and was on the program cover in 1996, continued to be a cast member for quite a few years. She says, “I love the show, every art form is indescribable.” Her niece tried out this year.

Brittany’s mother Michelle Clark, who has been in the Pageant since 1995, said, “I am the only one who can say that I went to a bar with Jesus.” (Referring to the volunteer who played Jesus in The Last Supper.)

Open casting Michelle

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Michelle Clark, a longtime volunteer in the Pageant 

“It takes over 500 volunteers, both onstage and behind-the-scenes, to put on the Pageant. We wouldn’t have a show without our volunteers! They have so much fun backstage and many volunteers return year after year to participate,” says Pageant Director Diane Challis Davy.

Trying out for the makeup department for the second year in a row, Monica Thompson and Chris Lins agreed, “It’s just great to be part of it, we had so much fun last year.” This year, they’re also hoping to be substitutes for the cast.

As she was recording measurements, Bettye Murphy shared that she has been a volunteer for 46 years. That’s got to be some kind of a record!

Judy Flanders, who has been with the costume department for 28 years, met her husband Bob while he was volunteering at the Pageant in 2010, and now they volunteer together. 

Judy says of the casting call, “As always, we have a wonderful time saying hello to old friends and meeting potential ‘teammates.’ The atmosphere is always so upbeat and fun…to me, it’s one of my favorite places on earth! Also, as always with the Pageant of the Masters, everything ran like a well-oiled clock.”

Open casting measuring

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Chris Simich, in his fourth year, measures Benjamin Webster. Simich creates all the headpieces.

In this summer’s production of Made in America, audiences will meet the artists – revolutionaries, innovators, dreamers – who not only made this country their home, but let their creativity be inspired by the freedoms upon which this nation was founded.

The show will include acknowledged masters of American art: N.C. Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Norman Rockwell, Daniel Chester French, Luis Jimenez, and John Nieto.

Anita Mangels, FOA board member and pageant volunteer for 30 years, says, “Bizarre Bazaar is ‘our side show.’ The proceeds of sales from pieces from the Pageant are sold and go to the Student Volunteer Recognition Fund. The money goes to help kids who have volunteered in the Pageant and are now moving on to higher education. The funds are used for books and such.” 

Open casting bazaar

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Bizarre Bazaar sells donated items from past Pageants to aid the Student Volunteer Recognition Fund

“This is a fun thing, something outside of normal, and gives the kids a head start. The donated props and materials are very eclectic and in keeping with the Pageant vibe. As part of the casting call, volunteers really look forward to seeing something from a scene they might have been in last year. It’s an opportunity for pieces from the Pageant to go on and have a new life. They have sentimental value to a lot of people.” 

The ultimate goal for those attending the casting call is a phone message stating, “We think you’re perfect for Pageant of the Masters, do you have the desire to make a commitment?” 

The Pageant’s extended family of volunteers continues to grow, as does the excitement and enthusiasm for each new production. 

It’s going to be a spectacular show, so don’t miss it.

The Pageant of the Masters production Made in America will be presented nightly from July 8 - September 3. Advance tickets are now on sale starting at $20 per person. 

To stay up to date on all things Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, visit

Lagunatics opens this Friday at No Square Theatre

The latest edition of Lagunatics, a locals favorite send-up of everything loved (and not) about our beloved city, opens this Friday, Oct 5 at 7:30 p.m. Performances continue every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in October.

Lagunatics opens Oct sign

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This year’s parody of all the goofy stuff that happens in Laguna, directed by founding Artistic Director Bree Burgess Rosen, opens on Friday

This year’s targets include goats, the City Council, undergrounding the power lines, Prop P, pocket parks, the Village Entrance, LBPD, Accessory Dwelling Units, public art, tree trimming, Laguna Art Museum, parking fees, Gay Pride, and the return of the echinoderms. 

Festivities begin with an opening night costume party, “Pimp My Premiere.” Attendees are encouraged to enjoy great hors d’oeuvres and beverages in creative garb, the sillier the better. 

The show’s run closes on Sunday, Oct 28 with a FinalaGala party catered by Pavilions Newport Coast, and beverages provided by Absolution Brewing Company. Snacks and beverages are available at all other performances as well.

Tickets are $60 for the Pimp My Premiere and party, $35 and $40 for Sunday performances, $45 and $55 for Fridays and Saturdays, and $100 and $110 (VIP) for the final night FinalaGala.

For additional information on events, auditions, classes, and to purchase tickets, visit

Laguna Playhouse to present “Beauty and the Beast: A Christmas Rose,” starting Dec 5

Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham and Executive Director Ellen Richard present “Beauty and The Beast: A Christmas Rose,” with performances from Wednesday, Dec 5 through Dec 30 at Laguna Playhouse. 

The production is written by Kris Lythgoe, directed by Sheldon Epps, choreographed by Mandy Moore, with musical direction by Keith Harrison and musical supervisor Michael Orland.

It will star Ashley Argota, Thomas Hobson, Heath Calvert, Andrew Jackson, Riley Costello, David Engel, and more.

Laguna Playhouse Rose Ashley Argota

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Ashley Argota to star in Laguna Playhouse production of “Beauty and the Beast: A Christmas Rose” starting on December 5 with other key actors

For information or tickets, visit or call 497-2787 ext. 229. Tickets range from $41 - $76.

Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

2018 FOA/POM season is a big success reporting $10.6 million in revenue

At the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters annual membership meeting on November 14, members were updated on recent achievements and given a glimpse of the future. The event, held at the Festival’s Forum Theater, featured reports on the past fiscal year’s activities, an overview of the Pageant’s 85th anniversary, recognition of longtime volunteers and staff, and a preview of the 2019 Pageant of the Masters.

Festival President David Perry began the meeting reporting the 2018 season an enormous success for both the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show and Pageant of the Masters. After his opening remarks, Perry presented an upbeat and entertaining video that captured the 2018 season and the Pageant’s 85th Anniversary. It featured the fine art show, the junior art exhibit, art education programs, special events, Pageant of the Masters, and the recent Pageant of the Monsters.

Perry then introduced City Council member Bob Whalen to remark on the season in the absence of Kelly Boyd, Laguna Beach mayor and ex-officio member of the Festival Board.

Julie Kirchen, an eight-year Pageant of the Masters volunteer and the Wellness Strategy and Integration Manager at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, presented the Festival of Arts and Perry with a $5,000 check from the Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund to support community outreach art education programs.

FOA Festival Board

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Festival of Arts board members report a successful year

The 2017-2018 year was a fiscal as well as an artistic success, according to Treasurer Fred Sattler, who presented the unaudited annual financial report. Sattler reported unaudited revenues of roughly $10.6 million, and expenses $9.8 million, resulting in a net income of about $802,000. 2018 unaudited Festival of Arts net assets were reported at $26.3 million with liabilities at $8.2 million, resulting in net assets at $18 million.

Board member Pat Kollenda proudly announced that the Festival of Arts awarded $87,400 in scholarships to college students in 2018. There were 17 freshmen awards in the amount of $29,800. There were two scholarships in Dance, six in Music, one in Theater, seven in Visual Arts and one in Writing. The freshmen average high school GPA was 3.56. There were a total of 31 freshman applicants that applied in 33 areas. In addition, there were also scholarships awarded to 31 returning scholarship recipients.

Pageant Director Diane Challis Davy presented a slideshow of artwork to be presented in the 2019 Pageant of the Masters, The Time Machine, including works of art by Norman Rockwell, Paul Manship, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Johannes Vermeer, Georges Seurat, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Perry recognized and congratulated employees Reagan Foy, Costume Director, for her 10 years of service; Michelle Reindl, Accounting Assistant, for her 15 years of service; Sharbie Higuchi, Director of Marketing, Public Relations and Merchandising, for her 20 years of service; and Caryn Werfelmann, Director of Guest Services, for her 25 years of service. He thanked them for hard work and commitment to the Festival of Arts.

There was no election for the Board of Directors this year as the three incumbents ran unopposed. Tom Lamb, Pat Kollenda, and Anita Mangels will each serve new three-year terms on the board. Elected board officers for the 2018-2019 season are David Perry, president; Scott Moore, vice president; Fred Sattler treasurer; and Pat Kollenda, secretary.

The Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road. For more information, visit

LBHS Drama and Park Avenue Players present Little Shop of Horrors in concert

On Friday, May 24 at 4 p.m., Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26 at 2:30 p.m., LBHS Drama and Park Avenue Players present Little Shop of Horrors in concert. A deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi smash musical, Little Shop Of Horrors has devoured the hearts of theatregoers for over 30 years. 

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, and Aladdin) are the creative geniuses behind what has become one of the most popular shows in the world.

LBHS Drama cartoon

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Feed the need for musical hilarity with this delicious sci-fi smash about a man-eating plant

The meek floral assistant, Seymour Krelborn, stumbles across a new breed of plant, which he names “Audrey II” – after his co-worker crush. This foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Krelborn as long as he keeps feeding it blood. Over time, though, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s out of this world origins and intent towards global domination. 

One of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows, Little Shop Of Horrors, the charmingly tongue in cheek comedy, has been produced worldwide to incredible success.

This LBHS Drama presentation is performed in concert style with live on-stage musicians at Thurston Middle School’s Black Box Theater.

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults.

To purchase tickets, visit

Thurston Middle School’s Black Box Theater is located at 2100 Park Ave.

Laguna Beach Chamber Singers presents Spring Concert on Sunday at Laguna Presbyterian

Laguna Beach Chamber Singers is ready to wow audiences once again with a Spring Concert this Sunday, June 2 at 4 p.m. at the Laguna Beach Presbyterian Church.

LBCS will be presenting one of the most eclectic concerts that they have offered, featuring the totemic, challenging yet intoxicating Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (I, II, III).

Laguna Beach choir

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Courtesy of

The talented Laguna Beach Chamber Singers will perform their Spring Concert on Sunday 

This is of particular interest to pianists of all ages, as the Stravinsky is not usually performed as 1-piano/4 hands with chorus – it’s a first, certainly in the SoCal area. They take on Verdi, and the choruses they will be singing are wonderfully representative of his genius. 

The Bernstein Broadway tunes are both familiar and not so familiar, with a piece specially arranged for the Chamber Singers, and will be a fun way to end this wide-ranging concert. The singers are planning a special intermission event so that concertgoers can emphatically say “the intermission’s great!”

For more information on the LBCS, visit

The Laguna Presbyterian Church is located at 415 Forest Ave.

Artists get ready to welcome the public for 53rd Sawdust Summer Festival season 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

For nine weeks during the summer, Sawdust Art Festival draws more than 200,000 visitors. Guests are invited to shop along sawdust-covered paths in a hand-built village of fine art and eclectic craftsmanship. Summer artists are Laguna Beach residents. Sawdust also offers a robust year-round art program onsite, Sawdust Art Classes, featuring a comprehensive array of art and studio workshops taught by working Sawdust artists.

Preview night is Tuesday, June 25; Opening day is June 28.

Artists get Patsee

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Looking for a little shade, photographer Patsee Ober builds her booth around a pomegranate tree

In the mid 1960s, personal freedom of expression broke out and with it, a vibrant arts and crafts movement. In Laguna Beach, that creative energy brought together an influx of young artists and craftspeople, as well as talented local artists who had been juried out of the only summer art festival in town. Fueled by a passionate desire for artistic independence and wanting something fresh and exciting, the Sawdust Festival was born.

Artists get David

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A warm welcome from artist David Nelson

In 1965, the very first show was held in a vacant lot across the street from present-day Laguna Beach Public Library, but it wasn’t until ‘67 at another locale on Coast Highway that sawdust was used along the grounds to help keep dust down. It was then the press coined them the Sawdust Festival.

Artists get Star

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Tree booths are popular; Star Shields builds his booth around the pepper tree again this year

When the show reformed the following summer at what would be its permanent home, 935 Laguna Canyon Rd, the founding artists erected the first official Sawdust Festival sign.

The Sawdust Art Festival is open daily Friday, June 28 – Sunday, September 1, 2019.

Summer Festival Hours are 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

(Festival will close early at 6 p.m. on July 4th.)

Tickets to the 53rd Annual Sawdust Art Festival are available for purchase before arrival. Allow two to five hours for online ticket sales to process. If planning to attend the same day, purchase tickets at the box office.

For tickets, go to

Festival of Arts, the premier showcase for the arts, runs from July 5 – September 1

Laguna Beach Festival of Arts will let creativity run wild this summer with the prestigious Fine Arts Show on Thursday, July 5 – Saturday, September 1 and Pageant of the Masters’ “Under the Sun” Saturday, July 7 – Saturday, September 1. 

Celebrating its 86th year, the Festival of Arts’ prestigious juried Fine Arts Show showcases original artworks from 140 of Orange County’s finest artists and offers interactive art workshops, demos, special events, live music, wine and chocolate pairings, guided art tours, and more. 

In conjunction with the Fine Arts Show, the Pageant of the Masters world-famous theatrical celebration of art recreated in tableaux vivants – “living pictures”– will awe audiences nightly with spectacular stage illusions choreographed to original, live orchestra performance and engaging narration.

Festival of Arts Fine Art Show runs from July 5 – September 1, weekdays noon – 11:30 p.m., weekends 10 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. There will be early closing on August 25 at 1:30 p.m. 

Pageant of the Masters runs from July 7 – Septemger 1, with performances nightly at 8:30 p.m.

Festival of Arts Painting

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Franz A. Bischoff’s painting, Catching Fish at the Beach, at the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show

Festival of Arts Fine Art Show tickets are available online at General Admission tickets are $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends; Student tickets are $7 on weekdays and $11 on weekends; tickets for Children 6-12 are $5 daily; admission is free for Children 5 and under, Military, and Laguna Beach Residents.

For Pageant of the Masters ticket information and to purchase tickets, visit Tickets start at $15 per person. Pageant of the Masters ticket grants access to the Fine Arts Show.

Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

Laguna Art Museum presents One Night/One Painting

Author and critic Peter Clothier invites participants to spend a full hour in front of a single work of art at Laguna Art Museum on Thursday, Feb 28 at 6 p.m. Participants are encouraged to practice meditation and contemplation during the hour.

Laguna Art green

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Courtesy of

Join Laguna Art Museum for a night of contemplating art

Clothier is an internationally-known writer, speaker, and creative consultant who specializes in writing about contemporary art and artists, including the popular “Slow Looking: The Art of Looking at Art.” He has given talks for TEDx Fullerton, UC Santa Barbara, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, and many other venues.

Advance reservations are recommended.

For more information, visit or call (949) 494-8971 x203

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

LCAD Bi-Annual Art Market Sale 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna College of Art + Design’s (LCAD) hosted its Bi-Annual Art Market Sale last weekend. Julian Velarde, Assistant Dean of Students at LCAD, says of the sale, “This [year]…forty talented students showcased paintings, prints, jewelry, pins, stickers, t-shirts, totes and other handmade unique creations…the event was a great success and the atmosphere was festive throughout. A special thank you to 4G Ventures for the generous use of their venue.”

LCAD Bi Annual shopping

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LCAD students Rachel Villanueva (left) and Angeline Chen

LCAD Bi Annual Mo

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Mo Honarkar (on right) greets shoppers at 4G Ventures showroom

LCAD Bi Annual chatting

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Festive atmosphere 

LCAD Bi annual table

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One-of-a-kind merchandise

Laguna Beach Live! Bluegrass and BBQ 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach Miskey

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The Miskey Mountain Boys perform live to a sell-out crowd at LCAD on Saturday for Bluegrass and BBQ presented by Laguna Beach Live!

Laguna Beach at tables

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LB Live! partnered with three local companies to deliver a great hometown experience: Laguna Beach Beer Company and Purple Corduroy offered libations to the happy crowd, while Gnarly Q served up smoked meats and veggies.

Laguna Beach trio

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Cindy Prewitt (middle) of Laguna Beach Live! is joined by two Laguna Beach Live! volunteers

Fete de la Musique 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Fete de parade

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Boardwalk parade – Elvis (David Gorgie) on left

Fete de Chutney

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Love Chutney at Areo 

Fete de Mike

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Mike DeBellis, jazz saxophonist at Pepper Tree Lane 

Fete de Tamara

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Sandro and Tamara, multilingual vocalists at LCAD Gallery parking cave

Fete de Blacktongue

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Blacktongue Bells, a real crowd-pleaser at the Water District…But the music never stops, so tune in on Friday to get the rest of the melodic missive from Barbara Diamond

Laguna Dance Festival artists dazzled at The Promenade last night

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Dance Wilkerson

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Lenai Wilkerson – Every Thursday through September 3 from 7 - 8:30 p.m., Laguna Dance Festival presents “Dancing Solo Together,” a series of free live dance solos at The Promenade at Forest with professional dance artists from across the country performing for shoppers, diners, and pedestrians

Laguna Dance Flynt and Stern

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Ardyn Flynt (in background) and Amaria Stern – Each performance is unique, highlighting solo dancers and their creative work. The four performers last evening were all from USC’s Kaufman School of Dance.

Laguna Dance Walton

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Rachel Walton – The dance presentations are intended to enhance the artistic experience embedded in the Laguna Beach lifestyle by offering dynamic and thought-provoking dance performances, while practicing social distancing and promoting the health and safety of all guests on The Promenade on Forest

Shana Morrison performs her special brand of music at The Cliff this Friday, May 11 from 7 – 10 p.m.

Shana Morrison will perform her special brand of music at The Cliff this Friday night, May 11, from 7 - 10 p.m.

Shana Morrison with her band

From the release of her 1996 debut CD Caledonia, to the recent recording of “Rough God Goes Riding” on father Van Morrison’s “Duets: Re-working The Catalogue,”Shana makes music on her own terms. 

In the process of recording five original CDs, touring with her band, and being a featured guest artist touring with her father Van spanning over 25 years, Shana has developed a unique and wide-ranging vocal style, bending the blues and R&B to make for a powerful performance that proves family talent runs deep.  

Starting out as a pop/rock artist in the ‘90s, she has always incorporated American roots music into her live shows.

Shana will be joined by a stellar group featuring Bob Hawkins on guitar, Dave Batti on bass, John Hoke on drums, and Andy Hill on “everything else”.

The Cliff is located at 577 S Coast Hwy.

Peter Blake Gallery celebrates 25 years of fine art with exhibit and reception on June 30


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

To commemorate its 25th anniversary, Peter Blake Gallery presents an exhibit aptly named “Twenty Five Years,” which incorporates both historic and recent West Coast Abstraction. Blake invites the community to join the opening celebration at a reception on Sunday, June 30 from noon to 2 p.m.

To date Peter Blake Gallery is the longest-running gallery exhibiting West Coast Minimalism and has become internationally known as a gallery that has carved a niche. The Gallery honors this longevity with a presentation of works by Lita Albuquerque, Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Ron Cooper, Mary Corse, Tony Delap, Laddie John Dill, Joe Goode, James Hayward, Scot Heywood, Craig Kauffman, John McCracken, John M. Miller, Marcia Hafif, Ron Nagle, Helen Pashgian, Hadi Tabatabai, and De Wain Valentine. 

Over half of the pieces in the exhibit are on loan from major collections and Blake says, “This gives visitors the opportunity to view works they might never have had the opportunity to see.” At the close of the exhibit in August, they will go back to their owners. 

Peter Blake sign

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Peter Blake Gallery relocated to the current location in 2008

When entering the gallery, it’s immediately apparent that it is an extraordinary space – three to be exact. It has a serene and almost sacred feeling, as if stepping through the door of a church. This peaceful aura wasn’t created by happenstance.

Blake says, “Some contemporary fine art is politically driven, everything has a strong message. These works are peaceful and quiet, they reflect and absorb light like the ocean and sand.”

A shift to minimalism

In 2008 when Blake moved his gallery from North Laguna to Ocean Ave – it was a beauty supply store and before that The Diane Nelson Gallery – he shifted exclusively into minimalism. He gutted the interior and divided it into three areas, the first with natural light, the second with natural and controlled light, the third contains totally controlled light. “The pieces capture the traveling of light. Sometimes the shadows are as beautiful as the work itself,” he says.

The snow-blink white walls are hung with a scattering of works, some have their own “nooks and crannies” as he describes them. Blake has the opinion that less is more, and the austere quality only adds to the mystique of the space. 

Peter Blake Alexander

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Work by Peter Alexander 1-10-14

Blake explains, “West Coast Minimalism originated in the 1960s and 1970s. Artists visiting the California Coast weren’t interested in brushes to capture the white light of the beaches and ocean. They were using resin and metal with auto paint.”

Blake brings together the sub-categories of West Coast Minimalism – Light and Space, Finish Fetish, Cool School, and Hard-Edge – in the installation, and it appears as a wonderfully cohesive whole.

Each work of art is strategically placed. Blake says, “The installation is done over time. As works come in, they are placed in composition with the other pieces, so they form a collage. Each new show presents a challenge.” 


Milestones often bring reflections on the past, and as Blake observes the occasion of the Gallery’s 25th anniversary, he contemplates his history in Laguna, his 55th birthday on Thursday, his first six months as a Council member, and his recent purchase of the building that houses the Gallery, the first property he has owned in Laguna.

As exquisite as the Gallery is, Blake says, “A brick and mortar location isn’t necessary, most of my business is done online and at art fairs, but I love Laguna and being part of the community and its rich artistic history.”

Peter Blake interior

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Blake recently purchased the building that houses the Gallery

He and his wife Stephanie Bachiero travel all over the world for the art fairs – London, Paris, Sydney. 

The Gallery has been accepted into this year’s edition of Salon Art + Design New York, and this fall, they will be highlighting Brazilian Design and California Minimalism in their booth at the fair. They have also applied the Antoine Philippon & Jacqueline Lecoq solo presentation to Design Miami. 

Art fairs

Some of the recent fairs they’ve attended are: Seattle Art Fair 2017, Peter Alexander Solo Presentation at Expo Chicago 2018, and Fred Eversley Solo Presentation at the Armory Show 2018.

“I’m very proud to represent Laguna Beach at these art fairs,” Blake says.

When he came here in the 1980s, he said, “I’d never lived in a small town.” But he was smitten once he drove past the house on top of the ridge at the south end of Crystal Cove. He was born in Long Island, NY, lived in Dallas and Washington, D.C., and when he arrived here, worked as a waiter at Romeo Cucina. 

Peter Blake Valentine and Miller

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On left, De Wain Valentine, “Concave Circle Rose,” 1968; on right, John Miller, “Untitled,” 1995

With the new Gallery location came a different artistic direction, which he felt intuitively he should focus on, but it wasn’t without its downsides. The move took place just as the recession hit in September of 2008.

“It was a huge transition,” he says. “But as an art dealer, I couldn’t realize my full potential, so I made a dramatic shift. It took a while to get the Gallery off the ground. I worked at Romeo Cucina for five years until it became profitable. Now a lot of my business is buying and selling and remarketing of works we sold in the 1990s.”

Highs and lows

Blake and his wife, artist Stephanie Bachiero, have entered another artistic realm, incorporating design into collectible pieces. They have recently shown at Palm Springs Modernism Show Spring Edition 2019, KEM Weber Walt Disney Studio Designs at Design Miami 2018, and The Tendency of the Moment | International Deign: The Bauhaus Through Modern, Peter Blake Gallery 2017.

He has also survived through three recessions. “People stop buying art,” he says.

Even though there have been lows, Blake says the best part of being an art dealer is “doing exactly what you love to do, knowing you won’t get rich, but it’s rewarding.”

Peter Blake Lita

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Lita Albuquerque, “Untitled,” 2019, 24K gold leaf on resin, pigment on panel

“We do most of our business online and at fairs, so we could live anywhere in the world, but we choose to live in Laguna because we love this place. By purchasing this building, I’m saying I’m going to be here for the rest of my life.”

Excerpted from an essay written for the anniversary by prominent collector/Gallery friend Gisela Colon, she says, “Peter Blake falls into this category of the classic quintessential old-fashioned gallerist. He is one of them, not because he has been in the art world for twenty-five years – though this in and of itself is a feat of endurance and undeterred presence – but most importantly because he has the eye. By any tangible metric, Peter possesses the intangible asset of seeing the aesthetic of the future.”

Peter Blake Gallery is located at 435 Ocean Ave.

For more information, go to or call (949) 376-9994.

Timeless wonder of Festival of Arts electrifies large crowd at Preview Party


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

On Wednesday evening, the buzz in the air was palpable as the crowd mingled among artist booths during Preview Night at the Festival of Arts (FOA). No matter how many times one goes to the Festival of Arts, the anticipation never wanes. Each year is different and the raw excitement of seeing the unique and innovative creations of longtime exhibitors and new propels visitors among the maze of booths. 

The Festival’s prestigious juried art show includes a wide variety of media such as paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, handcrafted wood and furniture, ceramics, glass and more – all by 140 of Orange County’s finest artists. 

The timeless costumes

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Lisa M. Berman and artist Kathe Madrigal with time travelers Stacey and Benjamin 

Of course, the Pageant of the Masters theme of The Time Traveler echoed throughout the grounds. Attendees were asked to dress up in their favorite time period and many did, to the delight of all. Steampunk costumes were a favorite and added a wonderful whimsy to the night. 

Part of the overall party atmosphere was the fun of spotting friends and then enjoying the beautiful weather, food, libations, and music that played throughout the evening.

First-time exhibitor Lisa Kijak describes her pieces: “My textile work explores texture and its ability to illustrate the passage of time. I use layers of fabric and stitch to recreate the peeling paint and chipped surfaces of neon signs left in disrepair.”

The timeless Lisa

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First-time exhibitor Lisa Kijak and her textile works

After her first night at FOA, she said, “The experience of exhibiting at Festival of Arts for the first time has been magical and exciting. This is a community of supportive, brilliant, fine artists, who have welcomed me as a newcomer with open arms. I am truly honored to be the only fiber artist exhibiting this year. I can’t wait for the rest of the summer and look forward to sharing my work with the festival attendees.”

Jeweler Lance Heck has been exhibiting for 34 consecutive years and was juried in when he was just 18 years old. (He admits he misses the lawn and surrounding booths of the old FOA grounds, but is getting used to the new arrangement.) “While working mostly in 18k gold, platinum and fine gemstones, my pieces are contemporary in design with craftsmanship that is ‘old world.’”

The timeless Lance

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Jeweler Lance Heck has been exhibiting for 34 consecutive years

Accolades for the event came from first-time and return visitors as well.

Kristine Thalman, president of Laguna Beach Seniors says, “This is the most all-encompassing event in Laguna! Beautiful art, good friends old and new, expressive and fun dress, fantastic music, uninhibited dancing, and all in an extraordinary setting. I never take this for granted! We are truly blessed!”

The booth of photographer Jeff Rovner, who has been exhibiting since 2017, drew quite a bit of attention. This year he’s exhibiting a portfolio of six photographs that merge his passion for photography with his work experience in the field of artificial intelligence. Each photograph of a vintage toy represents an application of artificial intelligence. The lucite pane protecting each photograph is laser-etched with an excerpt of a machine learning computer code for that application. The etched letters cast a shadow on the photograph behind them.

The timeless Jeff

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Jeff Rovner (on right) and booth visitor

Bree Poort, who works in mixed media, is a first-time exhibitor and one of the youngest to ever exhibit at the Festival. “I never thought I’d be one of these artists. It’s so cool.” In a description of her work, she says, “My artwork is deeply inspired by the ocean and the power and peace she brings. Using resin and acrylics, my work is like flying over the ocean and getting the bird’s eye view perspective.”

Rachelle Weir’s figurative sculptures are “introspective and expressive.” She says of her work, “I take inspiration from vintage materials that are rich, tactile and authentic, most of which come from treasure hunts in dusty barns, wood piles, and flea markets.” She uses many diverse materials and construction techniques in her work and is especially drawn to woodcarving and the use of found elements in her sculptures. 

The timeless Glori

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No Laguna event is complete without Glori Fickling – with Harry Huggins at the booth of Rachelle Weir and her figurative sculptures

After attending on Wednesday, Joan Gladstone, artist and trustee of Laguna College of Art and Design, said, “I feel very fortunate to live in a town that values art and artists and offers exceptional venues like the Festival of Arts. I was impressed by the wonderful new works by longtime Festival artists as well as intriguing artwork by many new exhibitors. There were so many friends to talk to at the preview party, and so much to see, that I’m going to return very soon to take it all in.”

That seemed to be the general consensus – it requires more than one visit to take in all the incredible works of art. Time to go back.

Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd.

It runs from July 5 - August 31, 2019.

Festival hours are Monday through Friday from noon to 11:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. There is early closing on August 24 at 1 p.m.

For more information, go to

For more photos by Mary Hurlbut, see slideshow below

LAM’s Seventh Annual Art & Nature Festival celebrates nature-inspired art this weekend


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Executive Director of Laguna Art Museum (LAM) Malcolm Warner describes the Seventh Annual Art & Nature Festival as “a celebration of art inspired by nature,” and the four featured artists –Thomas Hunt, Laurie Brown, Mildred Bryant Brooks, and Yorgo Alexopoulos – each represent that theme in vastly different ways.

The festival is a multidisciplinary exploration of art’s many and various engagements with the natural world, and this journey continues all weekend through Sunday, Nov 10. For the first time in the event’s history, the commissioned work of art – this year by Yorgo Alexopoulos – will be inside the museum rather than outside and will be on view after Art & Nature weekend through January 5, 2020.

On Wednesday, members of the media had the unique opportunity to preview the artists’ works and view the multimedia installation by Alexopoulos –with the added treat of an explanation of the work provided by the artist himself.

LAM's Seventh Mildred

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Malcolm Warner explains “The Last Tree” etching by Mildred Bryant Brooks 

The works of Hunt, Brown, and Brooks have been on exhibit at LAM since October 13, and each artist has a unique approach to the issue of landscape and environment.

A preservationist, Mildred Bryant Brooks is known for her landscape etchings, many of which depict trees – such as her piece The Last Tree. 44 of her etchings from the 1930s and 1940s are on display.

Warner says, “She often portrayed nature under threat and the danger of it being undermined by development, as represented by the oil derricks in her work Black Mirror.”

Thomas Hunt is best known for his colorful coastal scenes. His exhibit Thomas Hunt: California Modernist features 50 paintings characterized by his distinctive style, which involves broad brushwork and the bold effect of light and reflection. Hunt was an active member of the LB Art Association. 

LAM's Seventh Thomas

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Thomas Hunt is known for his colorful coastal scenes

Displayed in the museum’s beautifully renovated basement, photographer Laurie Brown’s work depicts mankind’s relationship to the landscape in less comfortable ways, “dwelling in the zones that form a no-man’s land between the man-made and the natural.” Periphery #11, Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, 1995 shows the patterns left by bulldozers on the hillside during the development of Newport Coast. 

LAM's Seventh Laurie

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Photographer Laurie Brown depicts man-made impact on the natural world

As the riveting centerpiece of the event, Art & Nature presents 360° Azimuth, a specially commissioned work by Alexopoulos for the festival. The site-specific installation is on view inside the museum through January 5, 2020. 

A mesmerizing experience, Alexopoulos’s large-scale installation features a two channel video projection with sound and invites the viewer to be part of it. As described, “the landscape symbols become metaphoric ‘characters’ in an animistic meta-narrative where reality and constructs of our collective subconscious seem to co-exist. Using landscape symbolism as a point of departure, he combines Euclidean geometric shapes with a multiplicity of moving images, whether filmed, photographed, painted, or drawn, that unite representation and abstraction into a common aesthetic.”

An American-born artist of Greek descent, Alexopoulos graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently lives in Los Angeles. He creates paintings, time-based media artworks, and installations. He often synchronizes multiple monitors or projections in a dynamic ensemble to create an ever-changing immersive spectacle. 

LAM's Seventh Yorgo

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Yorgo Alexopoulos in front of “360° Azimuth”

Alexopoulos says, “Throughout history, nature has been constantly interwoven in religion and other cultural aspects, and I’m sensitive to how humans interact with landscape. Thirty thousand years ago, humans personified landscape/nature, and the sun and other elements became gods. They’re all different methods of landscape as symbol.” 

Inspired by various types of landscapes, he says, “It’s not the content or where it was filmed, but how landscape is being presented. Everything was shot at same angle using motorized dollies.” 

The photographs are from all over the world and drawn from his collection of 25 years of photography. He adds, “But there is CGI [computer-generated imagery] in the installation.”

Addressing the question of the various landscapes – deserts, oceans, mountains, and streams – in his installation, Alexopoulos says, “The body of work is like a narrative with the landscapes as different chapters. It has open-ended meaning. This is very liberating and experimental, something new and fresh, and I’m part of the pioneer process.”

His work is captivating and shouldn’t be missed. 

Activities throughout the weekend

 Throughout the weekend, there are many other activities for visitors to experience. There will be a keynote lecture by Professor Alan Braddock; a film screening; a panel discussion; and a free family festival exploring art and the natural world. 

Friday, Nov 8: 

6 - 9 p.m. – Keynote Lecture: On November 8, Alan Braddock, Ph.D. will give the keynote lecture, From Nature to Ecology: The Emergency of Ecocritical Art History

Saturday, Nov 9: 

11:30 a.m. – Film: LAM screens A Boy’s Dream, a documentary about the artist Theo Jansens, who creates large-scale “beach animals” that move independently, powered by the wind.

12:30 - 2:30 p.m. – Book Signing: Elizabeth Turk signs copies of the recently-published book documenting Shoreline Project, the 2018 Art & Nature commissioned work. 

2:30 - 4 p.m.Art in a Time of Climate Change: Professor Victoria Vesna leads a conversation with Linda Weintraub, the author of To Life!: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet.

4 - 5 p.m. – Educators discuss how the idea of art inspired by environmental consciousness can be applied in the classroom.

6 p.m. Reception, 7 p.m. Lecture: In Person: Yorgo Alexopoulos: Yorgo Alexopoulos discusses his work, including this year’s Art & Nature commissioned piece.

Sunday, Nov 10 – Family Festival: LAM offers a day of free admission on November 10, plus family yoga with Bala Shala, hands-on art and science activities with partner organizations, and a family-friendly concert by Birdsong and the Eco-Wonders.

10 - 11 a.m. Family Yoga

11 a.m. - 2 p.m. – Hands-on Art & Nature: Art, nature, and science activities by Laguna Ocean Foundation, Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, LB Laureate Lojo Simon, Ocean Institute, Pacific Mammal Center, Newport Bay Conservancy, Center for Art Education and Sustainability, and the Art Division. 

2 - 3 p.m. – Birdsong and the Eco-Wonders

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr, on the corner of Pacific Coast Hwy and Cliff Dr.

Admission: General admission: $7, Students (18+) and Seniors (60+): $5, visitors aged 17 and under: free, museum members: free.

For more information, click here.

LAM recommends signs that recall the City’s history as an art colony – informative rather than directional

As part of the museum’s centennial celebrations, and in celebration of the Laguna Beach’s artistic legacy, Laguna Art Museum earlier this year proposed that the City install informational signs above existing street signs on several streets that are named for the great early artists who lived and/or worked in Laguna Beach. 

LAM recommends Wendt

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Example of signs pointing to Laguna’s historic and artistic heritage

The museum’s curator of historical art, Janet Blake, identified six artists whose names became the following street names:

Cuprien Way (Frank Cuprien)

Galen Drive (William Galen Doss)

Griffith Way (William Griffith)

Hill Street, originally Hills (Anna Hills)

Hinkle Place (Clarence Hinkle)

Wendt Terrace (William Wendt)

With great support from Centennial Executive Committee co-chair Betsy Jenkins (Woman of the Year 2018) and City Council member Bob Whalen, and a sign design by Bill Atkins, the city has approved the signs. 

The signs are set to be installed soon, and will be a nice way to educate visitors and residents about this history, show pride for the city’s heritage, and help reinforce Laguna Beach’s legacy as an artist colony.

Laguna Beach Music Festival kicks off tomorrow, Feb 6 and continues through the weekend

The 2019 Laguna Beach Music Festival kicks off tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb 6, featuring Festival Artistic Director and Grammy-nominated pianist Joyce Yang, Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Conrad Tao, and Grammy-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich.

The world-renowned Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Peter Jay Sharp Prize winner cellist Efe Baltacigil, and violinist/violist Yura Lee, who was the only first prizewinner across four categories at the prestigious ARD Competition in Germany, will also be performing at the festival. 

Laguna Beach Joyce

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Photo KT Kim

Festival Director Joyce Yang

The concerts take place at the Laguna Playhouse and the outreach events take place at various venues in Laguna Beach. Join Laguna Beach Live! and the Philharmonic Society for this week of discovery and celebration of outstanding music.

On Wednesday, Feb 6 at 6 p.m., the festival starts with a prelude featuring Joyce Yang on the piano at the Laguna Art Museum. 

Festival supporters will meet the musicians and mingle with fellow music lovers for a festive evening of delicious food, fine wine, and incredible music. Attendees will enjoy an exclusive performance by Joyce Yang and experience her vision of the synergy of music and visual art as multimedia artist Tripp Derrick Barnes creates a masterpiece to Yang’s performance. 

On Thursday, Feb 7 at 10:45 a.m., Laguna Beach High School students are invited to a private lecture and piano performance with festival Director Joyce Yang. 

Cellist Efe Balticigil will perform and talk to guests on Friday Feb 8 at 10 a.m. at the Susi Q. Space is limited.

The Opening Night Concert on Friday, Feb 8 starts at 8 p.m. at the Laguna Playhouse and features Joyce Yang and cellist Efe Baltacigil in a program of dance-inspired musical works. The second half features Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in “Dream Play,” a work by acclaimed choreographer Fernando Melo. (This performance is co-presented and in collaboration with Laguna Dance Festival.)

On Saturday, Feb 9 at 8 p.m. at the Laguna Playhouse, a duo recital built around André Previn’s “Tango, Song, and Dance,” Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich and Joyce Yang showcase dance-inspired pieces from various cultures influenced by tango, jazz, and folk melodies.

The Laguna Beach Music Festival ends on Sunday, Feb 10 at 3 p.m. with a Finale Concert: Romantic Masterworks at the Laguna Playhouse. The Festival culminates in a passionate musical exploration of romance-themed masterworks by Ravel, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev. In this pre-Valentine’s Day concert, violinist/violist Yura Lee, pianist Conrad Tao, and cellist Efe Baltacigil join Joyce Yang.

For tickets to Laguna Beach Music Festival concerts, visit

Local favorite 133 band performs at Mozambique on Monday

On Monday, June 3, join together with friends for a night of rockin’ fun at Mozambique, as local favorite 133 band performs from 7 - 10 p.m.

The 133 band includes music director Steve Wood and his wife Beth (also of Honk), Jason Feddy, Missiles of October’s Poul Pedersen, lead guitarist Bob Hawkins, drummer Frank Cotinola, bass guitarist Alan Deremo, Nick Hernandez, and songwriter Clay Berryhill.

Local favorite 133 band

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Photo by Traci Pedersen

The 133 band putting on a lively show 

The band represents a mixture of diverse genres such as reggae, rock, and “Mad Englishmen.” They have an album in the works, and a video of them making it.

Mozambique is located at 1740 South Coast Hwy.

LCAD main campus to stay at present site


The main campus of Laguna College of Art and Design will not be moving closer to town.

College President Jonathan Burke informed Stu News on Wednesday that school officials decided after due consideration to keep the main campus where it is, rather than relocating to property owned by the Laguna Beach Company on Laguna Canyon Frontage Road.

“We did have conversations with the city and with the company,” said Burke. “The proposal was appealing, but we decided to stay where we are.

“Everyone loves the present location. It is so uniquely right for our Fine Arts Campus. It is our legacy.”

LCAD main campus

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Submitted photo

LCAD main campus will remain at its present site, according to President Jonathan Burke

The college is bound inextricably with the city’s history as an art colony, a legacy not to be taken lightly, said Burke, the 13th president in the school’s history.

Laguna was discovered by artists in the late early 1900s, drawn by the light and the terrain. Plein air painters such as Edgar Payne and Anna Hills founded the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918.

However, Laguna’s artists were hard hit by the Depression. In 1932, they made a desperate attempt to bring visitors to Laguna – visitors hopefully with money. 

To attract those visitors, the artists hung paintings on fences and other unlikely places. The community organized activities such as tours of artist homes and an outdoor pageant. 

That gave birth to the Festival of Arts on which grounds the Laguna Beach School of Art was founded in 1961.

The school was moved in 1977 to its present site at 2222 Laguna Canyon Rd despite grumblings from environmentalists who lamented any construction that intruded into the open space.

Through numerous name changes and tumults in the administration, the college has survived and now thrives. 

According to college records the school offers 10 undergraduate majors, three graduate degree programs, eight minors, and a Post-Baccalaureate program.

Known since 2002 as the Laguna College of Art and Design, the school now boasts a student population of more than 600 full-time students, accommodated on seven sites, including the Main Campus, throughout Laguna Canyon and Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach Live! brings the spirit of music to Glennwood House

The residents of Glennwood House, a locally supported living community for adults with developmental disabilities, were treated to a rousing performance of Beatles songs and holiday music on Thursday, Dec 18 by the talented musician Jason Feddy.

The interactive concert was the first presentation at Glennwood House coordinated by Laguna Beach Live!, a local nonprofit that brings professional musicians to Laguna Beach and provides free music educational outreach to local organizations. 

Laguna Beach dancing

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Submitted photo

Glennwood residents enjoying interactive concert with Jason Feddy 

“Performances where musicians and audience members get to interact and experience the pure joy of music are at the heart of what we do,” says Sara Warner, Education Director for Laguna Beach Live! 

“Musicians like Jason understand the value of that and seek to create it whenever they perform. Presenting music at Glennwood House was a joy for us and we hope to collaborate again soon.”

Thanks to the generous grants provided by the City of Laguna Beach, Assistance League of Laguna Beach, Ebell Club of Laguna Beach, and the Festival of Arts Foundation, Laguna Beach Live! continues to present rewarding musical experiences throughout the community. 

For more information about musical educational outreach or Laguna Beach Live!’s many upcoming classical and jazz concerts, visit or call (949) 715-9713.

Sculptor Tom Fruin brings feeling of home to Laguna with Camouflage House at City Hall


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

For three months, residents and visitors will have the unique pleasure of experiencing sculptor Tom Fruin’s Camouflage House, which was just installed on the lawn of City Hall. “Experience” is the perfect word, since it’s not just visual involvement, but an interactive encounter as well – visitors can enter the Camouflage House and view it from the inside. 

Just after sunset on Monday, Fruin unveiled his temporary art installation to onlookers by lighting the mosaic patchwork, illuminating the vivid colors like individual gems. In the daylight, the viewing experience constantly changes and evolves as the sun moves. Fruin’s sculpture, constructed of recycled materials, is an exploration of light.

He described the process, “It was about taking mundane things and making them into stained glass. It’s all recycled materials. It has a warm side and a glassy side.”

One side is orange and red, the other is blue tones.

Sculptor Tom house

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Patchwork design gives stained glass effect

The Camouflage House sculpture is created of welded steel, salvaged signage, bits of plexiglass sourced throughout New York City, and other found materials. Fruin has been constructing these houses for years, the first one was in Copenhagen.

Chair of the Laguna Beach Arts Commission Adam Schwerner opened the event, “The sculpture just came from Descanso Gardens. We’re so pleased it’s here now.”

Giving kudos to the Arts Commission, Mayor Bob Whalen said, “The Arts Commission members continue to do fun pieces that engage visitors and residents. Thanks to Adam and Tom. We’re thrilled to have the piece here. Driving up the street, people will talk about it. The Arts Commission has done an outstanding job. They are central to the community and an inspiration.” 

Sculptor Tom close up

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Tom Fruin and his “Camouflage House”

Mayor Whalen then recognized Councilwoman Sue Kempf for her part in the endeavor.

To evoke the feeling of home in Camouflage House, Fruin said, “The pattern is all derived from the pattern of a quilt, making scraps of material into a larger whole. It’s an analogy for the safety and security of home.” 

Nationally acclaimed for his iconic Watertower sculptures in Brooklyn, where Fruin now lives and works, he moved to New York one month after graduating from University of California, Santa Barbara in 1996 (he we born in Los Angeles). 

“I had to go to New York. It was an art mecca in the 90s,” he said during the artist’s talk with Schwerner following the installation. 

Sculptor Tom Adam

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Adam Schwerner interviews Tom Fruin

Part of Fruin’s internationally recognized Icon series, Watertowers, of which there are nine in New York, he said, “I felt they were organic – being made of water and wood – in a hard-edged world.” 

How Fruin began collecting trash is an interesting story. “When I moved to Brooklyn there was always trash on my doorstep. I started picking it up – coffee lids, cigarette packages, drug bags, candy wrappers. They were indicators of human behavior. I wanted to turn it on its ear. In stitching the items together, I wanted to integrate them into a whole.”

In doing his found drug-bag quilts and flags, for which he is well known,

Fruin describes the process, “I picked geographic locations, then went through the physical process of collecting what was unique, what stood out, to make my own narrative.” 

He did that for a number of years and then moved into more purist forms.

Sculptor Tom audience

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Audience includes Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl (front row) and Arts Commission Vice-Chair Pat Kollenda (on right)

Schwerner asked if Fruin sees Camouflage House as a church. “It’s meant to be semi-dramatic, as influence and referencing.”

Clearly, some may view it as a church as there have been spontaneous weddings inside some of the houses.

Whether you see Camouflage House as an analogy for home or a sacred space like a chapel, it beckons you to come inside.

Camouflage House will go to Santa Barbara after this installation.

Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl thanked public art advocate and specialist Kady Yellow for her participation in the event.

The program was funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

For more information on the artist, visit

City Hall is located at 505 Forest Ave.

Laguna Beach Arts Alliance to host City Council candidates forum at Laguna Playhouse

The Laguna Beach Arts Alliance (LBAA) will hold a candidates forum on Saturday, Sept 29 from 9 - 11 a.m. at the Laguna Playhouse. The public is cordially invited to attend in addition to all city council candidates. 

Laguna Beach Arts Playhouse

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBAA will host a candidates forum at the Laguna Playhouse on Sept 29

This year’s city council candidates include: Peter Blake, Ann Christoph, Sue Marie Connolly, Sue Kempf, Cheryl Kinsman, Toni Iseman, Lorene Laguna, Judie Mancuso, Allison Mathews, Paul Merritt, and Rob Zur Schmiede.

The discussion will be moderated by former Mayor Jane Egly and is generously hosted by the Laguna Playhouse. LBAA has prepared a series of questions that address the arts in Laguna Beach on topics that range from the need for performance space to parking in the Arts District. The arts community is encouraged to participate and show their support for the arts, which is responsible for generating substantial City revenue. 

The Laguna Beach Arts Alliance was established in 2002 as the result of an exciting partnership among more than 20 Laguna Beach organizations. The mission is to serve as an advocate for the arts, promote collaboration and networking among the arts organizations of Laguna Beach, and to serve as a united voice for the arts in the city. 

Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and doughnuts served on the terrace, and the forum will begin 9 a.m. Space is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd. For more information, contact Rosemary Swimm at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Don’t miss No Square Theatre’s amazing production of “Annie,” starting this Friday

No Square Theatre presents “Annie” starting this Friday, Nov 30. Performances will run Friday through Sunday, through December 22, and will include both matinee and evening showings.

This wildly popular, Tony Award-winning musical “Annie”, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, is directed by Joe Lauderdale and choreographed by Ellen Prince. Vocal Music is directed by Roxanna Ward and the band is directed by Christopher W. Smith at the piano. David Cowan is the Stage Manager, and costumes are done by the brilliant Brigitte Harper. Costumes for this production are underwritten by a generous grant from FOA Foundation.

Little Orphan Annie, played but Tessa Espinola, embodies human optimism at its best, as she rises from humble beginnings in 1930s New York City. The show treats audiences to one of the best musical scores ever composed including favorites like “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” and the ultimate anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”  With a heartfelt and positive message, the show is the perfect entertainment choice for the holiday season.

The show stars Tessa Espinola as Annie, Rob Harryman as Warbucks, Rebecca Butkivich as Grace, Karen Rymar as Miss Hannigan, Tyler Below as Rooster, Laura Buckle as Lily St Regis, and Kipling as Sandy the dog. The orphans are played by Lula Buckle, Grace Gilchrist, Ava Madison Gray, Raegan Larson, Alexandra Nottage, and Libby Rue, while all the other roles are played by a talented ensemble including Lulu Arundale, Chase Benson, Lori Freeman, Rick Gold, Jonah Goldstein, Gary Greene, Jay Kramer, Ari Paltin, and Bridget Rago.

Shows are for adults and children 6 and older with evening performances at 7 p.m. on November 30, December 1, 8, 14, and 21, and 2 p.m. matinees on December 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, and 22. Tickets are available at and are $12.50 for children 6-11 and $25-$35 for adults. Seating is extremely limited and the theatre has enjoyed a long run of sold-out events, so tickets must be purchased in advance. There will be no late seating, so come early.

No Square Theatre is located in Historic Legion Hall at 384 Legion St.

LCAD’s Professional Mentoring Program makes a difference in young artist students’ careers

One of the nation’s top colleges of art and design, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) announced that 16 students from its BFA program in Drawing + Painting will exhibit their art as part of LCAD’s Professional Mentoring Program, an annual collaboration between the College and participating Laguna Beach First Thursdays Art Walk galleries. 

The 2018 LCAD Professional Mentoring Program exhibition will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on December 6, during the December First Thursdays Art Walk. Everyone can view student artwork at participating galleries that are listed at, or

LCAD’s Professional Mentoring Program pairs LCAD BFA Drawing + Painting seniors with local galleries. For two months, gallery owners and managers mentor students through the fundamentals of exhibiting their work and educate them about the business side of operating a gallery. For many students, this will be the first time they exhibit their work in a professional gallery. Proceeds from art sales go to the student artists and LCAD student scholarships.

LCADs Professional Benajmin

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Benjamin Askevold is one of the LCAD students involved in the mentoring program with local Art Walk galleries. His piece Public Transportation, seen here, will be on display at Todd Kenyon’s Pure Laguna Beach.

Now in the 16th year of their collaboration, First Thursdays Art Walk and LCAD received the 2018 Outstanding Arts Collaboration Award for the Professional Mentoring Program. The award, from the Laguna Beach Art Alliance, recognized the program’s excellence in outstanding achievements and contributions in the Laguna Beach arts community.

After 14 years of teaching the Professional Studies course, Robin Fuld, director of LCAD’s Career Services, is handing the reins to Charity Oetgen, an alumna of LCAD’s BFA program in Drawing + Painting (2014) and its MFA in Painting (2017), who, last year, co-taught the course with Fuld. 

“As an alumna of LCAD, of the course, and of the Professional Mentor program, Charity brings a unique and refined perspective,” Fuld said. “She is a successful working artist and is perfect to mentor LCAD Drawing + Painting majors as they prepare for careers as professional artists.”

For more information about the December 2018 LCAD + FTAW exhibitions, visit

No Square to hold My Ridiculous Valentine auditions tomorrow by appointment

No Square Theatre is looking for talented adult singers to audition for My Ridiculous Valentine. Auditions will be held tomorrow, Saturday, Jan 5, by appointment from noon to 3 p.m.

My Ridiculous Valentine, a not-so-romantic concert of dysfunctional love and laughter, is directed by Bree Burgess Rosen, with music direction by Roxanna Ward.

No Square My Ridiculous Bree

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bree Burgess Rosen will direct No Square’s production of “My Ridiculous Valentine” with auditions by appointment tomorrow, Saturday, Jan 5

No Square is seeking strong adult singers. Limited rehearsal schedule requires every performer to be a self-motivated quick study. The concert will consist of solos, duets, and group numbers. Forms and auditions for this nontraditional Valentine concert are available on No Square’s website at

Performances are on Friday, Feb 8 and Saturday, Feb 9 at 7:30 p.m. Tech/dress rehearsal is Wednesday, Feb 6 from 6 to 10 p.m. 

To make an audition appointment, contact the director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Before auditioning:

--Download and fill out the audition form and conflict calendar from 

--Prepare about two minutes of an up-tempo or ballad from a Broadway score or the American Songbook. 

“If you have something that reflects the theme of the concert, please do that – but the directors, not the performers, will determine the content of the concert,” Burgess Rosen said.

--Prepare to bring sheet music in the proper key. No a capella or accompaniment tracks are allowed.

--Allow about one hour for the audition.

No Square My Ridiculous Roxanna

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Roxanna Ward will provide musical direction for No Square’s production of “My Ridiculous Valentine”

Note – there is no pay. No Square is a non-union, community theatre, but this is a “stand and sing” concert, not a book show, with no AEA conflict. 

“We can and will have a few professionals in the concert, volunteering alongside our talented amateurs,” Burgess Rosen said.

No Square Theatre is staged in Historic Legion Hall, 384 Legion St, two blocks south of Laguna Beach High School. 

For more information on events, auditions, classes, and to purchase tickets, visit

Laguna Plein Air Painters Association presents  “Waterworks” juried watercolor art show

The Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) is proud to present “Waterworks,” a unique exhibition dedicated to watercolors, in collaboration with the Joe Hanks Van Cleave Foundation for the Arts. The exhibition opens on Saturday, May 11 and runs through May 20. 

The public is invited to join the celebration at the Opening Reception with the artists on Saturday, May 11, from 5 - 7 p.m. (awards to be announced at 6 p.m.) at LPAPA in Residence located at Forest & Ocean Gallery. This is a free event – all art lovers are welcome. 

“Waterworks” is a special juried exhibition of original works of art in watercolors created by members of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association. Close to 100 entries were received for this prestigious show with jurors Cindy Baron (Signature Artist Member of LPAPA), Celeste Gilles (LPAPA Board Member), and Ludo Leideritz (LPAPA Board Member & Forest & Ocean Gallery owner) choosing 38 original framed paintings for the show’s coveted spots. 

An expanded online gallery show is available through   

Laguna Plein surfer

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Tanabe Keiko, “Morning Surf, Laguna Beach”

In addition to the artwork, a selection of historical paintings by Joe Hanks Van Cleave from the family’s private collection will be exhibited. Joe Hanks Van Cleave painted in all media, and she was a member of the original Laguna Beach Art Association. 

The Foundation was founded in 2014 in memory of artist Joe Hanks Van Cleave and supports both individual and collaborations with established charitable organizations in the education and artist expression of Plein Air Watercolor artwork in its infinite forms. “Joe’s work tells the story of her family life, travels, her local community, and the architecture and landscapes of California and the southwest.”

LPAPA was founded in 1996 with a mission to preserve Laguna Beach’s rich artistic legacy founded by early plein air artists and promote the tradition of plein air painting in our community, across the nation, and around the world. 

LPAPA is one of the best recognized and most respected plein air art associations in the world with a growing roster of more than 600 local, national, and international artist members. In addition to providing opportunities for established and emerging artists to show their work, LPAPA has a strong commitment to education utilizing the organization’s Plein Air Project to benefit young and emerging artists and the greater community.

LPAPA in Residence is located at Forest & Ocean Gallery, 480 Ocean Ave. 

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday and Sunday from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (closed on Mondays).

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call (949) 376-3635, or visit

Mantra Festival returns 

Mantra Festival girls

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Photo by Dianne Russell

After a 20-year hiatus, the local Krishna Temple held a Mantra Festival at Main Beach on Sunday. The event celebrated the arts and music of India with a main tent hosting a full day of acoustic Indian devotional music and chants.

Mantra Festival boys

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Photo by Dianne Russell

Boys paint sign while being questioned by man with sign

Local artist Cindy Fletcher paints coronavirus series to help her cope with pandemic


Suzanne Redfearn, author and Laguna Beach Literary Laureate, brought our attention to Cindy Fletcher’s extraordinary painting of the sewing machine she uses to make masks. Redfearn said, “She and her daughter Liz have been sewing face masks for CHOC. I thought this was so poignant and beautiful. It speaks to both the darkness of the pandemic and the light of our humanity.”

Fletcher, a well-known Laguna artist, says, “I came across the scene after my daughter and I made masks for ourselves and our family. The machine set in a comfortable, sunny room, the bright fabrics left over from former projects now made into masks in the hope of fending off a deadly virus – what a shocking change.” 

This is one in a series of paintings Fletcher is doing to help her cope with the pandemic.

Local artist sewing machine

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Cindy Fletcher’s painting – one in a series about the coronavirus pandemic

“I have several other paintings that are larger and are not completed yet. I decided to record the images that the coronavirus has brought that were unheard of just weeks ago. The first painting is a man wearing a mask in the midst of a busy urban setting. I found it startling to see someone that felt that level of protection was necessary in a city in our country. Within a week from starting on that painting masks became ubiquitous and traffic on city streets came to a screeching halt. New haunting scenes became common,” says Fletcher.

“Another is a close-up of hands washing. The fact that simple soap and water is our best preventative is wondrous in its simplicity and at the same time deeply problematic that that is all we have. There are so many images that are poignant that I have a lot of material.” 

Local artist masks

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Sample masks and the donated fabrics, elastic, and pipe cleaners that are used to make the mask crimp over the nose 

“My daughter and I have only just begun making masks. She has temporarily returned home from Rotterdam where she lives and works as an engineer, and she is busy working remotely. We began sewing this weekend. 

“A friend of ours is involved in an organization called the Healthcare Mask Collaborative that was put together by Stephanie Oddo. It’s 250 sewers and a network of people rounding up all the supplies that has made 16,000 masks that have been distributed to a long list of hospitals, senior care facilities, daycare facilities, and the military. Five thousand masks were sent to Guam and distributed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt.” 

Fletcher encourages anyone who has cotton, thread, elastic, or the ability to sew to go to and join the effort!

No Square Theatre needs you: Why you should invest in community theatre

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

All the world may be a stage, but local theatre is a tough way to make a buck.

Raising the curtain can be much more of a challenge than you could have imagined. 

Putting on a show can be fueled by great, infectious enthusiasm, but creating an organization to sustain a series of shows and build a place in the community takes much more sustained effort.

No Square Theatre’s dynamic and exciting calendar of shows and events is planned meticulously with the community audience in mind – despite often not having the budget.

No Square relies heavily on community support, and this year’s arrival of the membership scheme has been successful, but they need more members to sustain the quality and frequency for which they have become renowned.

But why? Why should you invest in local community theatre? 

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Actors become like family

Ok, I’ll admit, as a child born and raised in theatre I am a little biased, but as a researcher, I took it upon myself to explore just what the benefits are even to the most “un-thespian” of people.

“Theatre is one of the higher cultural activities that mark us as imaginative, creative and truly human,” says Dr. Glenn D Wilson, Chapman University.

Attending a performance of your favorite play can promote a connection with and understanding of humanity in a bigger sense, he says. Wilson explains that the inclusion of human conflict in many plays helps people relate to each other while providing subtle guidance in our own personal relationships. 

Watching a play also allows the audience to access emotions they often don’t in the daily course of their lives. “Whether you see a tragedy or a musical, there’s likely an element of the storyline that extends beyond your personal life experiences,” Wilson adds.

This notion was further proven when the University of Arkansas Department of Education conducted a study on the effects of live performances on students. Emotional benefits that surfaced included an increased ability to comprehend and empathize with other people’s feelings and reactions. Those results weren’t as apparent with the control group that read the play or watched a movie adaptation.

The Human Element

One of the key attributes that separate’s theatre from movies and books is liveliness. Have you seen plays that were adapted for film? According to the Guardian UK, movies often show the same performance, but watching it isn’t the same experience as in the theatre.

There’s a bond that forms between the performers and the viewer, not to mention the connection that bonds the members of the audience. The Guardian article explains how there are brief magical moments that can only happen when spectators and performers share a physical space.

Local Support

By attending local theatre, you’re supporting the community, especially if there are residents performing. The community support I received from doing Annie (after a 20 year break from MT) helped me so much with my nerves and confidence. 

There are benefits for you as well, such as the fact that community theatre shows are often much less expensive than other performances. Additionally, the plays and musicals are typically held in smaller venues, so the action is easy to see and hear. 

Its soooooo good for children

I know I have a theatre child, Lula – but I also have a theatre spectator, Jesse (who would rather poke himself in the eye than perform on a stage) and trust me when I say the performing arts has benefitted them both. It teaches children how to think creatively through imagination. Creative thinking skills are critical in the world of business leaders, where the ability to create solutions to problems is a necessary and valued asset.

Robert A Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, has said that the heart and soul of a company is creativity and innovation. “Without creativity, there is nothing that makes an organization unique. Creative skills are one of the most important skills needed to be successful in any industry.”

Through theatre, audiences are immersed in stories about characters from every background imaginable. Live shows teach children how to appreciate people of all kinds and how to respect other points of view. Production brings a story with a unique viewpoint, characters from historic time periods give viewers a chance to learn about events and people from the past. 

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Rehearsals are fun

Not only is it important to learn about different kinds of people and aspects of life, but these shows also give a glimpse into other people’s lives. Theatre allows you to step into someone else’s shoes and see life from their point of view. This teaches young people lessons of empathy and cultural relativity.

Theatre exposes young people to new vocabulary and ways of communicating. Through the arts of dance, acting, and music, children learn how to communicate in a variety of unique ways.

Children need imagination to grow, create, think, and play. Theatre is the single most valuable place where kids can explore the endless possibilities of their imaginations and what they can do.

Without theatre, children not only miss out on an amazing artistic experience, but they lose the chance to experience an endless amount of learning opportunities. With exposure that not only raises school performance, but also encourages creativity, culture, communication, patience, morals, and imagination, an afternoon at the theatre is something that cannot be overlooked.

So hopefully by now I will have convinced you that becoming a member and supporting No Square Theatre will benefit everyone for generations. Check out their website at and click on “become a member” – this will give you various membership options.

While you are there now is the opportunity to purchase tickets to see “A Little Night Music” which opens May 11 and runs on the weekends until May 20– and also check out the summer camps available for your young people. 

No Square Theatre has been monumental in our family’s adjustment to moving over here. They are a family, we are a family – a family that just wants to grow and grow.

Celebrate First Thursdays Art Walk with free admission to LAM

Laguna Art Museum invites the public to celebrate the first Art Walk of 2019 this Thursday, Jan 3, with free to admission to the gallery from 5 to 9 p.m. First Thursdays Art Walk celebrates the diverse cultural art scene of Laguna Beach with participation by more than 30 member galleries. 

Now on view at LAM, Art Colony: The Laguna Beach Art Association, 1918-1935 celebrates the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Laguna Beach Art Association with paintings by the leading artists who were founding members of the association and active during that period.

Celebrate the painting

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Courtesy of Facebook

Joseph Kleitsch, The Drug Store (detail) c. 1925, oil on canvas, 40 X 40 inches, Private collection

This exhibition is part of a yearlong celebration of the museum’s history and legacy, honoring the artists of a hundred years ago whose organization eventually became Laguna Art Museum.

Art associations were a phenomenon of the late nineteenth-century, both on the east and west coasts. But no two art associations were alike. The Laguna Beach Art Association was a pioneering organization whose inception helped determine the fortunes of the Laguna Beach art colony and its artists. 

It grew from a relatively small organization to one that included hundreds of members throughout the country. Attendance records at exhibitions were impressive. Its leadership was devoted to promoting art in Southern California, but it also traveled its exhibitions to cities outside California and championed arts education in schools. 

The Laguna Beach Art Association charted its own course, but its development and struggles was a mirror of artistic and economic issues that confronted many art colonies in the early twentieth century. Its membership included Laguna luminaries – artists who exhibited on the national and international fronts – as well as many artists whose reputations never extended far beyond the local confines.

Although monographs have been published on several members of the art association – and some scholarship has focused on aspects of the organization – this is the first large-scale, critical study to focus exclusively on the art association’s growth and development. The exhibition includes over one hundred works by sixty-six artists, including a number seen in the original exhibitions.

For more information, visit

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

Jazz Wednesdays ends the season on March 27 with an exciting lineup of performers

On March 27, Laguna Beach Live! closes out a superb Jazz Wednesdays Winter Series with an All-Star Tribute to Chet Baker and Peggy Lee featuring world-renowned trumpeter Bijon Watson, guest vocalist Lucy Woodward, and the Laguna Beach Live! All-Stars. 

Jazz Wednesdays Bijon

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World-renowned trumpeter Bijon Watson

World-renowned trumpeter and Artistic Director of Jazz for Laguna Beach Live!, Bijon Watson leads the final concert of the 2019 Laguna Beach Live! Winter Jazz Series. 

Accompanied by the Laguna Beach Live All-Stars (Andy Langham – piano, Ben Shepherd – bass, Will Brahm – guitar, Jamey Tate – drums, Tom Luer – saxophone) and vocalist Lucy Woodward, the band will be performing a tribute to Chet Baker and Peggy Lee. Bijon and this stellar group of musicians will perform original arrangements and selections inspired by and made famous by Chet and Peggy. 

Jazz Wednesdays Lucy

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Courtesy of Lucy Woodward Facebook/Eric Morgensen

Guest vocalist Lucy Woodward 

Limited tickets are available. To add your name to the waiting list, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The concert is from 6 - 8 p.m., with doors opening at 5. A full bar and buffet dinner menus are available for purchase starting at 5 p.m.

Jazz Wednesdays Winter 2019 has been held in the distinctive [seven-degrees] event facility. 

For more information, visit or call (949) 715-9713. 

[seven-degrees] is located at 891 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Festival of Arts’ FOA Foundation awards $100,000 to twenty-three Arts Grants recipients 

The Festival of Arts’ FOA Foundation is pleased to announce the twenty-three selected recipients awarded $100,000 total in art grants for 2019. The FOA Foundation helps fund the many art-related non-profits in the Laguna Beach community, emphasizing the enrichment of children and young adults in all disciplines of art.

“The FOA Foundation is proud to be a longtime sponsor of the Laguna Beach communities’ non-profit art organizations. With an emphasis on educating our young students, the FOA Foundation supports our youth, both in their classrooms and through local venues in all the arts,” said FOA Foundation President Scott Moore. “We hope to increase the cultural experience for boys and girls, and young men and women, giving them a foundation for future appreciation and possibly a lifetime participation in the world of art.”

Festival of painting

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Submitted photo

The FOA Foundation emphasizes the enrichment of children in all disciplines of art

The 2019 Art Grants recipients are:

--Art 4 Kids

--Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

--Festival of Arts Education


--Laguna Art Museum

--Laguna Beach Chamber Singers

--Laguna Beach High School Art Department

--Laguna Beach High School Ceramics Department

--Laguna Beach High School Drama Department

--Laguna Beach High School Music Department

--Laguna Beach Live!

--Laguna Beach Seniors

--Laguna Community Concert Band

--Laguna College of Art and Design

--Laguna Dance Festival

--Laguna Playhouse

--Laguna Plein Air Painters Association

--LOCA Arts Education

--No Square Theater

--The My Hero Project

--Thurston Middle School

--Thurston Middle School Drama

--Sawdust Art Enrichment Fund

In 1989, the Festival of Arts with a $1.5 million donation established the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts Foundation, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation, to guarantee annual financial support for the arts in Laguna Beach.

The FOA Foundation, co-founded by John Rayment and David Young, was designed to hold these funds in a permanent endowment. The earnings and income from this endowment would be distributed annually in the form of scholarships to graduates of Laguna Beach High School and as grants to nonprofit art organizations and educational institutions in and about the city of Laguna Beach.

The FOA Foundation operates independently from the Festival of Arts. In 2007, the Festival of Arts assumed the financial responsibility of the art scholarships, enabling the FOA Foundation to focus on its grant program for local non-profit art organizations. 

The FOA Foundation is comprised of a five-member board of trustees who oversees and administers the program including Scott Moore (president), John Campbell (vice president) Bob Earl (treasurer), Jacquie Moffett (secretary), and Kathy Jones (board member).

Laguna Beach Live! benefit concert on Wednesday features a cappella group m-pact

A handful of tickets are still available for this Wednesday’s Laguna Beach Live! benefit concert at [seven-degrees], featuring m-pact, a 6-man a cappella group hailed as “one of the best pop jazz vocal groups in the world.” 

The concert benefits the nonprofit’s award-winning Live! Music & Kids education programs, which bring professional musicians to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach and the Laguna schools for performances and classes.

The a cappella group m-pact is known for using their voices to make music to the smooth sounds of Sam Smith, the percussive power of Stomp, the funk and groove of Bruno Mars, the sophisticated harmonies of Take 6, and the brass bite of the Michael Bublé Big Band.      

Laguna Beach mpact

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Laguna Beach Live! benefit concert on Wednesday features a cappella group m-pact, hailed as “one of the best pop jazz vocal groups in the world”

Their sophisticated sound and accessible appeal have garnered vast accolades, from Vocal Group of the Year (LA Music Awards), an Indie nomination (Independent Grammy), and Artist of the Year (Seattle Music Awards), to Grand National Champs of the Harmony Sweepstakes competition. 

Touring renowned fine arts halls and jazz festivals across four continents, m-pact has performed with pop superstars and their signature sound has been used in both TV themes and animated Disney feature films, as well as on jazz and pop radio worldwide.

To hear a sneak peek of the group performing a mash-up of “I Just Called to Say I Love” by Stevie Wonder and “Black or White” by Michael Jackson, click here.

The benefit concert is from 6 - 8 p.m. Doors open at 5 with food and drinks available for purchase. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $100 for VIP, which includes VIP seating, a signed CD, and “Meet and Greet with the Artists.”

Reservations are accepted until noon on day of concert or until sold out. For more information, visit www.lagunabeachlive.orgor call (949) 715-9713.

[seven-degrees] is located at 891 Laguna Canyon Rd.

LagunaTunes presents “Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles” with special guest star Jason Feddy

On Sunday, June 23 at 4 p.m., LagunaTunes Chorus (Laguna’s own all community, no-audition vocal group) celebrates the TV appearance of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 with “Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles.”

The program includes high-energy hits that make us want to dance, smile, and sing along, as well as a few poignant ballads and unforgettable melodies. Special bonus: an appearance by Jason Feddy, transplanted Brit and Laguna Beach Arts Alliance Artist of the Year. 

Feddy is well known for his entertaining Beatles programs, witty asides, and audience participation. 

The concert is in the Artists Theatre at Laguna Beach High School and it’s free!

LagunaTunes presents group

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LagunaTunes performs again on June 23 featuring Jason Feddy 

LagunaTunes Director Bob Gunn also directs the St. Mary’s choir and Men Alive (the Orange County’s Gay Men’s Chorus). His Men Alive concerts have brought audiences to their feet all over southern California, across the U.S., and in Europe. 

New members are encouraged to join LagunaTunes, without fearing an audition. It’s a friendly and inclusive group, and singers of all training and experience levels are welcome. Some members read music, some do not, age levels cover a broad range, and all are united by a love of music. 

Emphasis is on fun, learning, improving performance skills, and the joy of group singing. After a few weeks of rehearsal, new members are typically surprised at how well they can sing.

LagunaTunes Chorus also presents another concert in December, with fall rehearsals starting September 16. Rehearsals are weekly, Monday nights (7 - 9 p.m.) at Thurston Middle School, 2100 Park Ave. Two or three Saturday practices are also held in preparation for the concert.

 LagunaTunes is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides choral singing to everyone and presents two free concerts per year. The Festival of Arts Foundation and The Lodging Establishments and City of Laguna Beach provide funding. For more information, visit or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The LBHS Artists Theatre is located at 625 Park Ave.

Laguna Playhouse to sponsor Bare Bones New Play Reading Series

Laguna Playhouse is happy to announce its sponsorship of Bare Bones New Play Reading Series, presented by Laguna Beach Literary Laureate Lojo Simon under the auspices of ART WOW. Effective September 2019, Bare Bones New Play Reading Series will relocate to Laguna Playhouse.

“We are very happy that we are able to host the Bare Bones reading series. Their mission of presenting new and alternative works aligns perfectly with the mission of the Playhouse to support the ongoing growth of theatre,” notes Executive Director Ellen Richard. 

“We’ve watched ART WOW grow Bare Bones over the past several years into a thriving, community-based play reading series with a dedicated audience,” said Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham. “The opportunity came along for us to host Bare Bones at the Playhouse, and we thought it was a great fit and value-add for our patrons.”

Laguna Playhouse acting

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Photo by Lisa Farber/Laguna Beach Vibe

Bare Bones will relocate to Laguna Playhouse starting in September

ART WOW has presented Bare Bones script-in-hand play readings for the discerning theatregoer since 2015. The curated series of performances features local and professional actors whose performance is complemented by facilitated post-play conversations.

“Bones will continue to present thought-provoking new work for the stage,” said founder Lojo Simon. “I look forward to moving to the Playhouse. We’re not planning any major changes to our programming at this time.” Simon will be assisted in her efforts going forward by Wareham and Playhouse Marketing Director Dee Dee Irwin.

Theatre-lovers can learn more about Bare Bones on Simon’s website at and can sign up for Bare Bones’ mailing list by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

LA Sound Machine winds up Music in the Park

Photos by Scott Brashier

LA Sound singer

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LA Sound Machine, a Gloria Estefan tribute band, turns up the heat

LA Sound dancing

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Gotta dance, it’s the last concert!

LA Sound crowd

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No shortage of fun in this crowd

LA Sound friends

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A toast to the closing concert of the season at Bluebird Park…

Looking forward to next year!

For more photos by Scott Brashier, see slideshow below:

Curtain call

Curtain call bird

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Photo by Scott Brashier

“The sky takes on shades of orange during sunrise and sunset, the color that gives you hope that the sun will set only to rise again.” –Ram Charan

Sunset Serenades from your sofa continues with Jazz ensemble Sibarg

 The City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission Sunset Serenades series has been postponed due to COVID-19. Scheduled to perform tonight, Friday, May 29, was traditional Iranian music and Jazz ensemble Sibarg. Founding Member Hesam Abedini has filmed a special performance and message to the Laguna Beach community from his home.

The Arts Commission works with local musician Jason Feddy in curating the performances, bringing a variety of genres and cultures to the season. Although postponed, the Commission is working on other opportunities for future music experiences which it hopes to present over the summer.

Sunset Seranades group

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Courtesy of Sibarg Instagram 

Enjoy the music of Sibarg from the comfort of your home, courtesy of the Arts Commission

Commission Chair Adam Schwerner, who replaced Suzi Chauvel on the Arts Task Force, said, “I am thrilled to be working with this innovative group of people with imagination and expertise to look towards our future with opportunities for artists, performers, organizations, and businesses. We need to think outside the box and that requires the support of the community. We want our community, our residents, and artists to be safe, be healthy, and ultimately be able to continue to enjoy our city of artists.”

Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl explained, “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic an Arts Task Force has been appointed by the City Council to reimagine opportunities to reinvigorate the Arts for economic success. Our industry is completely in free fall. But we are reminded that in 1932 [when] artists were in a similar situation, patrons funded artists and they established the Festival of Arts – we know great things can come from situations like these.”

To watch the performance, click here. 

Sunset Serenades is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Art is good for the soul: First Thursdays Art Walk returns on July 2

First Thursdays Art Walk announces the return of Art Walk from 6 - 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 2. With people ready to venture outside and enjoy a pleasant summer evening, participating Art Walk member galleries and sponsors will host a modified version of Art Walk with the goal of providing a unique opportunity to view amazing art while still incorporating all the safety protocols to meet city and state requirements. 

Art brings us joy, improves individual well-being, and is a foundation of a healthy community. As patrons of the arts, and by supporting First Thursdays Art Walk and its member galleries and sponsors, you are supporting a wide variety of skills and workmanship by local painters, sculptors, photographers, designers, glass blowers, gallery owners, framers, and students of the arts, just to name a few. 

Art is martin

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Courtesy of

Martin Beaupre painting at Lu Martin Galleries during Art Walk on March 5

“We are happy to return to promoting art in a unique way by increasing the public’s exposure to the arts and providing the opportunity for local artists to display their art and have conversations and discussions with art enthusiasts during Art Walk,” said Dora Orgill, president, First Thursdays Art Walk. “Our hope is to be back on schedule with an Art Walk on the first Thursday of every month going forward, COVID-19 permitting. We truly appreciate all those who participate in and support this unique art community in Laguna Beach.” 

First Thursdays Art Walk is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation established in 1998 by a founding group of gallery owners and artists that included John Eagle, Peter Blake, Bill DeBilzan, and Sian Poeschl. Art Walk is a free art educational event held from 6 - 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. The event is funded by member galleries, sponsors, local lodging establishments, and the City of Laguna Beach. 

The primary objective of the organization is to support member galleries; provide the general public with demonstrations and exhibits for the purpose of enhancing the public’s appreciation of art; and provide a high quality educational experience for art students through the annual Mentoring Program with Laguna College of Art + Design. 

For more information, go to

Rita Rudner co-writes & stars in musical comedy Two’s A Crowd: Jason Feddy’s the songwriter

Laguna resident Rita Rudner will star with Davis Gaines in the musical comedy titled Two’s A Crowd, which will run at Laguna Playhouse from September 7-16. 

Songs are by Laguna’s own Jason Feddy, beloved musician and songwriter known throughout town. 

The play focuses on characters Tom and Wendy who are complete opposites. After a computer error, freewheeling Tom and uptight Wendy do their best to ruin each other’s vacations. Will they get to know each other well enough to reveal the real reasons behind their travel? Will they agree on sleeping arrangements? Will room service ever arrive? 

Rita Rudner and Rita Rudner

Rita Rudner takes the stage at Laguna Playhouse as Wendy 

The show was written by Martin Bergman and Rita Rudner, husband and wife. Martin is a producer and writer, known for movies like Pete’s Friends and A Weekend in the Country. Rita has starred on Broadway for many years in plays such as Annie Follies. Davis Gaines, is a well-known actor who has starred in the Broadway show Phantom of the Opera more than 2,000 times. 

Rita Rudner and Davis Gaines

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Davis Gaines is taking the stage at Laguna Playhouse as Tom 

Two’s A Crowd pairs audience favorites Rita Rudner and Davis Gaines in the world’s first unromantic comedy. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

LB Live! partners with LB Seniors for a special performance by the Triada Guitar Trio

On Thursday, May 9, from 3 - 4 p.m., Laguna Beach Live! will partner with Laguna Beach Seniors for a special musical performance by the Triada Guitar Trio. The event is free to the public. 

The performance will also include a Q&A with one of the most brilliant guitar ensembles performing today. 

LB Band

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The Triada Guitar Trio – three brothers and guitar virtuosos Nikola, Petar, and Vasil

Triada combines the unique talents of Nikola, Petar, and Vasil Chekardzhikov, forming one of the most brilliant guitar ensembles now performing. The three brothers are individually virtuoso guitarists, and their intuitive sense of ensemble gives a synergy that makes their concerts very special and exciting events.

Peformances by Triada feature innovative repertoire, including traditional classics, modern favorites, and vibrant, colorful ethnic music to engage and delight any audience. 

There is limited seating and reservations are recommended. 

Reserve your spot at the front desk of call (949) 464-6645.

The Susi Q Center is located at 380 Third St.

Laguna Beach Live! invites all to an afternoon delight at Bluegrass & BBQ on June 8

Enjoy a delightful afternoon of incredible bluegrass music and delicious BBQ on Saturday, June 8 at Bluegrass & BBQ presented by Laguna Beach Live!. 

Laguna Beach Live! is once again partnering with three very talented local companies to bring an even greater hometown experience. 

Laguna Beach Beer Company, established in 2014 by lifelong Laguna Beach residents, will be serving Tuava Guava (Hefeweizen) and Ruby St. (Grapefruit IPA). Purple Corduroy, a California culture inspired wine company produced by the three Bromigos, Dr. Riptide, SLi Dawg, and “Brandavi,” with a Laguna Beach-to-Lodi connection, will be offering Red Siren (Zinfandel) and Blonde Siren (Sauvignon Blanc). 

Gnarly Q will be there too, offering freshly smoked choices of Pulled Pork, Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs, Tri Tip of beef or vegetable skewers (all plates include baked beans, baked corn mash, and Hawaiian style coleslaw).

Laguna Beach outside band

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Enjoy a delightful afternoon with live bluegrass music, beer, and tasty bites at Bluegrass & BBQ on June 8

Entertaining the crowd will be The Miskey Mountain Boys, featuring world-class musicians who have performed all over the worl  and at such events and venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, the Disney Studios, Pops Symphony Orchestras, The Tournament of Roses, and The United Artists Theater In Los Angeles. They have also been featured performers in radio, televisio,  and film, including The Academy Awards, A Prairie Home Companion, and HBO’s Big Love

Bluegrass & BBQ will be held on the pastoral campus of Laguna College of Art & Design, 2222 Laguna Canyon Rd. 

The concert is from 5 - 7 p.m., with doors opening at 4 for BBQ and social hour. Concert-only tickets are $20 in advance for adults, $25 at the door. Children (12 and under) are $10 in advance, $13 at door. VIP tickets, available in advance only, are $100 and include reserved table seating, the concert, and your choice of BBQ served at your table. General admission includes seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Chairs are provided. Barbecue and beverages will be sold separately. Sorry, no outside food or beverages are permitted.

To purchase tickets, visit or call (800) 595-4849. For more information, call (949) 715-9713.

LagunaTunes receives $2,500 grant from FOA Foundation supporting music in Laguna

LagunaTunes Community Chorus, a local non-audition choral singing group, is pleased to announce a grant for $2,500 from The Festival of Arts Foundation. Thanks to this kind of community support, LagunaTunes Chorus is able to present two free concerts every year.

Under the direction of Bob Gunn, the sixty-member group rehearses on Monday nights at Thurston Middle School. This year’s June concert, “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles! “will be on Sunday, June 23, at Laguna Beach High School.

LagunaTunes receives group

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LagunaTunes will perform again on June 23 at LBHS

LagunaTunes, a 501(c)(3) organization, accepts everyone who enjoys singing and learning about different musical styles. The chorus includes schooled musicians as well as non-musicians who just like to sing. Music genres have ranged from serious and traditional to pop, rock, and jazz.

The emphasis is on improving skills, learning to perform, and enjoying the experience.

For more information, contact LagunaTunes President Patti Jo Kiraly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

Fundraiser for BC Cultural Arts Center raises $10,000 to benefit transformation of BC Space


On Saturday evening at beautiful Moss Point, a crowd of art lovers participated in the fundraiser for BC Cultural Arts Center spearheaded by Rick Conkey. Undertaking the transformation of BC Space into BC Cultural Arts Center, Conkey maintains that venues such as BC Space are irreplaceable because they present valuable performing and visual arts for the public. The $10,000 raised at the event will help bring this vision to fruition.

The festive fundraiser featured an open bar, silent auction, and live music from Jason Feddy. 

Participants were part of launching Laguna’s first Cultural Arts Center on historic Forest Avenue and maintaining Mark Chamberlain’s legacy. Sadly, Mark, co-founder, owner, and curator of BC Space Gallery, passed away from cancer last year.

Fundraiser for crowd

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Photo by Lisa Farber/Laguna Beach Vibe

Attendees fill Moss Point

Mihae Park, who works as a volunteer with Rick Conkey, said, “As an initial awareness fundraiser, we feel it was a success. People had loads of fun and as always, Jason Feddy was fabulous. We were able to raise approximately $10,000. There were over 100 attendees throughout the evening.” 

“Mark had a vision for BC Space. In order to preserve this historic Laguna Beach venue for the future, the building’s owner will generously invest $80,000 to protect the historical aspects of the space, while making the improvements to meet the cultural, visual, and performing arts needs of Laguna Beach. This fundraiser will help finance the final improvements necessary to make this BC Cultural Arts Center a reality,” said Conkey.

Fundraiser for Conkey

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Photo by Lisa Farber/Laguna Beach Vibe

Rick Conkey talks to guests 

Park commended the donors. “We had very generous donations from various artists including our well-known local civil rights artist and President Emeritus of Laguna Art Museum G.Ray Kerciu, who received the highest bid for his new art work called Wet Dream Series.” 

Rare and exquisite wines were donated and auctioned off as well. 

Laguna’s local jewelry shop Rock Martin, owned by Michael and Heather McFadden, very generously donated two beautiful rings that were quickly gobbled up by Patti and Heather Chalmers. 

Park said, “Just to name a few, other gracious gifts came from Melanie Kay Rosa, professor of dance at Fullerton College, who not only gave her time as a valuable volunteer but also gave ‘Hot Buns Workout,’ which was won by local doctor Pourya Ghazi.”

Fundraiser for Feddy

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Photo by Lisa Farber/Laguna Beach Vibe

Jason Feddy 

“Other donors include our local well-known chiropractor Diane Reed, artists Mark Timothy, Misha von Doring, Mike McGee, art professor at Cal State Fullerton, and many more. Laguna Canyon Spa provided a couples’ massage that was well fought over. Strings also donated a tennis racket and tennis bag as well as Woody Dike who came through with three beautiful necklaces that were coveted.”   

Overall, Conkey and Park were pleased with the turnout and the heightened awareness of BC Cultural Art Center that this event sparked. 

Fundraiser for wine

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Photo by Lisa Farber/Laguna Beach Vibe

Rare wine up for auction 

Park said, “This art-filled fundraising event brought like-minded art loving people together to ensure a bright future of Laguna’s first Cultural Arts Center. The funds raised will help us harness the power of the arts for the benefit of the community.

“We are looking forward to honoring Mark Chamberlain’s tradition of celebrating the fall equinox and formal opening/ribbon cutting of the new and improved BC Cultural Art Center in the next few months. For those who want to help but weren’t able to attend the fundraiser, it is still possible to become an ‘Artivist’ by joining the GoFundMe effort.” Click here to donate.

JoAnne Artman Gallery celebrates 10 years

JoAnne Artman Gallery has reached a significant milestone, celebrating its 10-year anniversary on Gallery Row in Laguna Beach. Founder and Executive Director JoAnne Artman opened the gallery locally in 2008, as one of the only contemporary art galleries in the neighborhood.

No stranger to the art world, Artman has been showing the work of culturally diverse artists throughout her career as a gallery owner. An avid collector herself, Artman said she has always had a passion for the arts. Even before her career as a gallerist, she would often put on private art shows at her home, showcasing and sharing art that she loved with others.

Artman said she has always had a fascination with art. As a child she loved painting and drawing cartoons, later discovering photography as an adult, which she continues to explore. The desire and passion the gallerist has for art remains a constant in her life as she views her relationship with art as an investment in her soul. 

JoAnne Artman Gallery exterior

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JoAnne Artman has been a visionary in Laguna Beach’s art scene for 10 years

Prior to opening her gallery in Laguna, Artman opened her first gallery in 2004 in the emerging Santa Ana Arts District, known as Space on Spurgeon, with a strong desire to encourage art as a way of life.

In 2008, Artman decided to take a leap of faith and establish new roots in Laguna Beach as JoAnne Artman Gallery after Peter Blake Gallery relocated to Ocean Avenue, opening up the space at 326 N Coast Hwy. 

She expressed that the Laguna location had forever been her favorite space in Orange County; she was finally able to turn her dream into reality. 

In September 2015, JoAnne Artman Gallery expanded into its second location in the heart of Chelsea, New York. The space, originally built in 1893 as a commercial manufacturing building, delivers a refreshing industrial meets contemporary atmosphere.

Artman exclusively represents artists that she loves, collects and has a passion for.  Her roster includes about 15 artists that embody all ages and ethnicities.

JoAnne Artman artist

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Anna Kincaide is one of the talented artists that shows at JoAnne Artman Gallery

Over the past decade, Artman believes that the gallery has been an integral asset to Laguna’s long-standing arts community.

“I would like to thank the gallery’s award-winning artists, loyal clients, as well as everyone who has visited the gallery, for their continued support,” Artman said. “We are looking forward to many more years of exhibiting captivating art.”

JoAnne Artman Gallery is located at 326 N Coast Hwy. For more information, call (949) 510-5481 or visit

LAM Film Night to feature In a Lonely Place Feb 21

Laguna Art Museum will present “In a Lonely Place” on Thursday, Feb 21 at 6 p.m. as part of its Film Night series. Curator Janet Blake will introduce the classic film noir starring Humphrey Bogart.

LAM Film Lonely Place

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Courtesy of

Don’t be lonely, grab a date and enjoy “In a Lonely Place” at LAM

According to a synopsis by Rod Crawford for IMBD, “Screenwriter Dixon Steele, faced with the odious task of scripting a trashy bestseller, has hat-check girl Mildred Atkinson tell him the story in her own words. Later that night, Mildred is murdered and Steele is a prime suspect; his record of belligerence when angry and his macabre sense of humor tell against him. Fortunately, lovely neighbor Laurel Gray gives him an alibi. Laurel proves to be just what Steele needed, and their friendship ripens into love. Will suspicion, doubt, and Steele’s inner demons come between them?”

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr. For more information and tickets, call (949) 494-8971 or visit

Rock for the Cause concert raises $8,100 to benefit Friendship Shelter

Marshall and Elizabeth Ininns, Ivan Spiers, Clay Berryhill and Danielle Cavallucci, Lea Abel-Stone, Catherine Talarico, Katrina Puffer, Nicole Anderson, Danielle Ward Shuster, and Meghan MacGillivary Weil organized the Rock the Cause event on Monday, March 4 at Skyloft to benefit Friendship Shelter. “Working together to end homelessness in our community one person at a time” was the foundation for a great evening of fun, food, and music by local favorite 133.

Rock for band

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Photo by Ellen Germano

133 plays for happy crowd at Skyloft on Monday, March 4

Ininns reports, “We raised $8,100.00. Today so many of us are very concerned about homelessness in Orange County and especially our home Laguna Beach. Rock for the Cause is a concert to support the Friendship Shelter. The Friendship Shelter provides homes for the homeless in South Orange County. All your generous donations went to the Friendship Shelter. The Friendship Shelter will not stop providing housing until all the homeless are housed. If you missed your chance to come to the Rock for the Cause concert, you can still donate to the Friendship Shelter at”

FOA Artist Rick Graves to present 40-foot long art at foaSOUTH Exhibit

The Festival of Arts is making a splash at the foaSOUTH Gallery this summer with a giant, 40-foot long photography piece taken by 12-year exhibiting artist Rick Graves. 

The display will showcase Grave’s unique photography captured by his custom-built camera system including the three-wall-length piece titled “Hana Highway General Store.” The exhibit is open daily at the foaSOUTH Gallery and runs April 22 through September 16. 

FOA Artist wave

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Photo by Rick Graves

Rick Grave’s 40-foot long wave photo

“It’s truly an honor to be featured at the Festival of Arts’ foaSOUTH exhibit. I’m beyond thrilled to not only display these pieces to the public for the first time ever, but to also offer people the chance to experience what I coined my ‘distacam’ captures,” said Graves. “My DistaCam captures time and space on a 66-inch roll of film allowing an entire roll of film to be used to shoot one single frame of action.”

The concept of Rick Graves’ presentation is to create panoramic images that encompass the entire gallery space. “Hana Highway General Store” gives the viewer a sense of dynamic movement and scale through the uniquely engineered slit-scan process. Graves has been recognized internationally due to his distinctively creative approach to photography. A graduate from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, he has been an exhibitor in the Festival of Arts summer exhibit since 2008.

FOA artist camera

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Rick Graves in his natural element

“Every time Rick Graves creates an image, it is an experiment in photography, and this exhibit is no exception,” says Sharbie Higuchi, Festival of Arts PR and Marketing Director. “As a longtime Festival of Arts exhibitor, Rick has sparked interest with many of our attendees and we know his showcase at foaSOUTH will help create one of the most exciting displays the exhibit space has ever seen.”

foaSouth is part of an ongoing series of shows that the Festival of Arts is holding at the location year around. The building is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Admission is free. 

The Festival of Arts is a nonprofit organization whose proceeds support the arts in and about Laguna Beach. For more information call (949) 494-1145 or visit   

The foaSOUTH exhibit is located at 1006 S. Coast Hwy.

Moody blues in Laguna

Moody blues

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Nights in white satin…

Summer Jazz Series starts up June 13 at [seven-degrees] featuring vocalist Barbara Morrison

Laguna Beach Live! has announced that tickets are on sale for Jazz Wednesdays Summer Series 2018, presented by Laguna Beach Live! at unique event facility [seven-degrees], 891 Laguna Canyon Rd. 

The Jazz Summer Series features seven concerts, occurring every two weeks from June 13 - September 5, with top jazz musicians from the region. 

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Vocalist Barbara Morrison

Kicking off the season on June 13 is critically-acclaimed vocalist Barbara Morrison, followed by The Latin Jazz Syndicate on June 27 featuring vocalist Norell Thompson and trumpeter Bijon Watson.

 Other performances include: July 11, guitarist Frank Potenza Organ Group; July 25, vocalist Anne Walsh; August 8, classic jazz with vocalist/bassist Kristin Korb Trio;and August 22, The Lineage Trio. The season concludes on September 5 with Laguna Beach Live! All Stars featuring Bijon Watson.

Ticketsare Cabaret Table seating $25/seat in advance and $30 at the door, with season tickets for $175. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at (800) 595-4849. The information line is (949) 715- 9713.

Other upcoming Laguna Beach Live! concerts include: May 22, Live! Music Insights with Dr. Robert Istad and a special trio of musicians who will explore “The Grass is Blue: America’s Legacy of Bluegrass and Spirituals”; June 4, Live! Music Insights “All That Jazz: An Historic Retrospective with Bijon Watson & all-star trio”; and June 10, the popular Bluegrass & BBQ featuring The Barefoot Movement, with food and beverages provided by Laguna Beach Beer Co, Purple Corduroy Wine, and Gnarly “Q” BBQ.

Forest and Ocean Gallery presents an evening of live music and art this Saturday, Oct 20

Forest and Ocean Gallery is pleased to host a live concert of fun classical music this Saturday, Oct 20. Pianist Lica Handa and her daughter Jane will perform “The Typewriter” and “The Syncopated Clock” by Leroy Anderson, and Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” narrated by Jane Handa.

Forest and Ocean Lica

Courtesy of Facebook

Lica Handa will perform a special piano arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue 

Doors open at 6 p.m. for viewing of art in the gallery and the performance begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 and wine and light refreshments will be served.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here or call David Parker at (959) 872-6616.

Laguna Playhouse announces casting call for Treasure Island on March 2

Laguna Playhouse will hold auditions for its upcoming play Treasure Island on Saturday, March 2, from 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. in the Brick Room – Suite 116. Callbacks will be by invitation only and held on Sunday, March 3. 

Treasure Island is the classic tale of pirates and buried gold. In 1775 from the Admiral Benbow Inn to Skeleton Island in the West Indies, it’s an unforgettable adventure of mayhem and treachery as the young Jim Hawkins falls in with a band of pirates who will do anything to recover Captain Flint’s map and the buried treasure. The show is directed by Donna Inglima, with fight choreography by Jo Ann Mendelson. 

Laguna Playhouse chairs

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Photo by Stacia Stabler

The Laguna Playhouse theatre awaits new performances

Casting Adults and Youth Adults (ages 12+) will double roles. This is a large cast show and needs actors with strong language skills, physicality, agility, no fear of heights, and a willingness to learn stage combat – rapier, hand-to-hand, knives, falls, acrobats – or have combat experience. It is gender fluid casting. 

Auditions are by appointment only and to be made with Wally Ziegler at (949) 342-1785.   

Audition Requirements include one monologue 1.5 min (max) from classical literature or similar. Bring a photo and resume and your schedule, as you will complete a conflict sheet. 

Ken Ludwig’s Treasure Island performs April 27 - May 5 at Laguna Playhouse and includes two weekday Student Matinees on May 2 and 3.  Production rehearses weekday evenings and one day on the weekend.   

The Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Laguna Beach Live! presents benefit concert featuring outstanding a cappella group m-pact

Laguna Beach Live! presents a special benefit concert on Wednesday, April 17 at [seven-degrees], featuring m-pact, a 6-man a cappella group hailed as “one of the best pop jazz vocal groups in the world.” 

The concert benefits the nonprofit’s award-winning “Live! Music & Kids” education programs, which bring professional musicians to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach and the Laguna schools for performances and classes.

The a cappella group m-pact is known for using their voices to make music to the smooth sounds of Sam Smith, the percussive power of Stomp, the funk and groove of Bruno Mars, the sophisticated harmonies of Take 6, and the brass bite of the Michael Bublé Big Band.      

Laguna Beach mpact

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The a cappella powerhouse m-pact will wow audiences in Laguna on April 17

Their sophisticated sound and accessible appeal have garnered vast accolades, from Vocal Group of the Year (LA Music Awards), an Indie nomination (Independent Grammy), and Artist of the Year (Seattle Music Awards), to Grand National Champs of the Harmony Sweepstakes competition. 

Touring renowned fine arts halls and jazz festivals across four continents, m-pact has performed with pop superstars and their signature sound has been used in both TV themes and animated Disney feature films, as well as on jazz and pop radio worldwide.

To hear a sneak peek of the group performing “Come Together” by the Beatles, click here.

The benefit concert is from 6 - 8 p.m. Doors open at 5 with food and drinks available for purchase. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $100 for VIP, which includes VIP seating, a signed CD, and “Meet and Greet with the Artists.”

Reservations are accepted until noon on day of concert or until sold out. For more information, visit www.lagunabeachlive.orgor call (949) 715-9713.

[seven-degrees] is located at 891 Laguna Canyon Rd.

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