At the 75th Anniversary Festival of the Arts/Pageant of the Masters pageant celebrity host Neil Patrick Harris, right, with Belinda Montgomery, who played his mother on the ABC comedy "Doogie Howser, M.D."


Art comes to life with Laguna gala

Donna Bunce
Donna Bunce
People Watch
The Orange County Register

It was a magical evening Saturday at the 75th annual Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters, and host Neil Patrick Harris, popular star of the CBS comedy series "How I Met Your Mother" and self-admitted magician, agreed. "When it comes to stage magic, the pageant is in a class by itself," he said.

A sold-out house of 2,600 enjoyed a viewing of the Festival of Arts; the music of the Derek Bordeaux Group; food from Chef Molly's Gourmet Solutions; and a chance to bid on a 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK 280 give-away. Nearly 400 of the attendees enjoyed a gala fundraising dinner at Tivoli Terrace restaurant, overseen by its gracious general manager, Bobby Fader, before joining everyone in the Irvine Bowl for the famous Pageant of the Masters, this year themed "All the World's a Stage."

The Shakespeare theme was beautifully presented by the artwork of Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Joshua Reynolds, and particularly through Everett Shinn's painting "Footlight Flirtation."

Pageant director Diane Challis Davy said she loved incorporating the Italian commedia dell'arte troupe she created into the "living pictures," the name given the theatrical presentation at its founding in 1933. Challis Davy gave the audience a brief history of the pageant, from the parade of locals costumed as famous works of art marching down Coast Highway to the festival site to assume their classic poses on a makeshift stage to the glorious evolution it enjoys today, portraying works of art on a large stage with painted backdrops, live music and narration to sold-out audiences every night for two months.

Festival of Arts president Wayne Baglin commented, "What a long way it has come!"

The gala always draws celebrities, and among those spotted were former pageant host and current "Criminal Minds" star Joe Mantegna, "Without a Trace" star Eric Close, former "West Wing" actor Joshua Malina, "Days of Our Lives" bad guy Joseph Mascolo, "Leave It to Beaver" star Jerry Mathers, actor Chad Everett and actress Belinda Montgomery.

The gala benefit's net proceeds of more than $200,000 are designated for the Building Fund to renovate the property.

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Monday, August 25, 2008


2nd Picture

MEETING MOM: Celebrity host of this year's Pageant of the Masters Gala party, Neil Patrick Harris is greeted by his television mom from "Doogie Howser", Belinda Montgomery on the red carpet Saturday night at the Festival grounds.




Pageant of the Masters rolls out the red carpet

Celebrities attend Festival of Arts and Pageant of Masters 10th annual benefit gala Saturday.



Celebrities graced the red carpet at the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters 10th annual benefit gala Saturday afternoon in Laguna Beach.

Neil Patrick Harris, this year's gala benefit host and star of CBS's "How I Met Your Mother" and "Doogie Howser," joked about being nervous about being the master of ceremonies for the special night.

"I should probably be more nervous," Harris said. "All I've been told is that I have to go up and stand perfectly still for two and a half minutes. Isn't that what everyone else does onstage? I don't have to talk do I?"

Harris has seen the Pageant of the Masters living art performance seven times and celebrated his most recent viewing of this year's theme "All the World's a Stage" by delighting the audience at the Irvine Bowl by cracking jokes and sharing his past Pageant-viewing experiences.

Kate Flannery of hit comedy show "The Office" turned up to the benefit gala and to see the Pageant of the Masters a second time.

"I am totally blown away, it is indescribable," Flannery. "You have to be here to see it. It's just like a little magic carpet ride. It's like entering another world."

Jerry Mathers, who played Beaver Cleaver on the classic family show "Leave it to Beaver," saw the Pageant of the Masters for the very first time Saturday evening.

"There was a TV special on it [the Pageant], I don't know how long ago, but I was very much interested in it," Mathers said. "So I know kind of what I'm about to see, but I know that the TV couldn't capture what it is."

Other celebrities at the benefit gala included "Top Chef's" Marcel Vigneron, Joshua Malina, Drew Tyler Bell, Joe Mantegna, Kate Linder, Brian Krause, Chad Everett, Gordon Clapp, Patrika Darbo, Charles Shaughnessy, Gail O'Grady, Jim Everett, Eric Close, Michael Bergin and Arden Myrin.

Contact the writer: or 949-454-7391

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