by lyle e davis
“I can’t explain what we saw, you gotta see it for yourself!” So said Dennis Galt’s dad, when trying to describe what he and his wife, recent transplants from Oklahoma, had seen some 30 years ago when they had first attendedThe Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, California.
“Dad was just blown away by the beauty and majesty of the pageant,” said Galt. Dennis and his family have been going every year since. Today, Natali Galt, Dennis’ daughter, is a cast member of the presentation and has been ever since 2003.
“We started taking the kids, Natali and Mike, when they were about 11 or 12,” said Dennis. Until that age he and his wife, Lois, would get babysitters every year and drive up themselves to Laguna Beach to attend the presentation they loved so much.
“When we thought the kids were old enough to truly understand and enjoy it, we began to take them,” Galt went on. “They both fell in love with the Pageant immediately. Natali became so enamored of it that she decided at about age 16 that she wanted to be part of the cast.
On this page, we witness the metamorphosis of the lovely, young Natali becoming Clio, one of five actresses in a Wedgewod jasper plaque portrait of Apollo and the nine daughters of Zeus who preside over the arts and sciences. In one of two plaques depicted above, Natali is the figure of Clio, the muse of history, fourth from the left, second from the right, holding the horn in her right hand, a scroll in her left.
Escondido’s Natali Galt, begins with makeup being applied
Above, Natali, with her makeup and costume on, has become Clio, the muse of history, ready to take the stage.
Typically, she leaves Escondido for Laguna Beach about 5:20 pm, for a Makeup Call at 6:50 pm, allowing plenty of time for rush hour traffic delays. Makeup takes about 45 minutes. The show starts at sundown, usually at about 8:00 or 8:30. Her role in the production lasts about five minutes while the narration and music background. She then goes backstage and removes her makeup and costume, changes, and comes back home to Escondido on her regular hour drive.
In 2003, her first year, she was on the pageant replica of Times and the Fates Sundial by Paul Manship- Bronze, from 1939. She was the actress standing in the middle of the display (see photograph below).
Times and the Fates Sundial-by Paul Manship- Bronze, 1939. Natali Galt is the statue in the
middle of the exhibit.
Natali Tatiana Galt grew up in Escondido, graduating from Orange Glen High School.
She learned from friends in 2002 how the casting call for the Pageant of the Masters worked so she decided to try out in January 2003 and was cast.
Natali Galt, out of makeup and costume, relaxing in her Escondido home’s backyard
Casting is done according to body frame . . .similarity to the figures in the original art work. Natali’s slender, attractive body was a natural. In 2004, she was cast as one of the girls in La Loie Fuller poster-by Jules Cheret, from the 1800s. (See image below). In 2006 she was cast, this being her third year, as another poster girl. This time she was a champagne poster by Joseph Perrier. (See image on below).
Natali was “the grape girl” in this Champagne Poster for Joseph Perrier in 2006.
Natali is an attractive woman, as is evident from her photo on the cover page, but she holds no ambition to become “a star” and be in show business permanently. She did no acting in high schools. Her dad says she sings along with favorite bands but “we give her a bad time.”
Natali had one acting experience with the Patio Playhouse in “The Sky is Falling Down,” in which she played the monkey. She sang in the chorus in elementary school, but not in high school, she also studied ballet and tap as a kid. But, she says, she has no desire to be on stage or to act . . . that “this is just me having a love for the arts, being able to volunteer for something that is world reknown. I love it and am proud the have been part of it for these past few years.”
Unfortunately, her appearances in the Pageant of the Masters may well have become past tense. The cost of gasoline has hit her hard. “It’s strictly a volunteer thing,” she explained. “All of the cast members are volunteers. While I didn’t mind the commute from Escondido to Laguna Beach, the cost of gasoline made it an $800 to $1000 per month expense, which I was unable to absorb.” (She would drive up and back every night, six days a week, that’s a 113 mile round trip from her driveway to the pageant parking area, for the full run of the pageant).
Knowing Natali, however, she’ll keep busy. She is an instructional assistant for Special Education for the Solana Beach School District and loves teaching Special Education kids. She wants to eventually get her special ed credential and teach special education students. She is an active member of the Escondido Kiwanis Club and is well known for her many volunteer activities. Escondido is home, she says. She plans on staying right here, enjoying family and friends as well as making journeys quite often to Laguna Beach, more often this time as a spectator rather than an actress.
“The Pageant of the Masters is just such a rich tradition, and such an important part of my life and that of my family that I couldn’t just give it up completely,” she says. ‘If it wasn’t for the high price of gas, I’d still be appearing.”
The Pageant of the Masters is one of the stellar productions available to the world and, in particular, to those of us lucky enough to live in Southern California. The pageant is often sold out. The atmosphere is rich with artistry, color, and pageantry. The whole community of Laguna Beach features outstanding artists of most every stripe. You’ll find oil painters, water colorists, sketch artists, pottery makers, weavers, anything to do with arts and artisans . . . Laguna Beach is the place to be.
This ties in nicely with the atmosphere of the joint major productions in the area: The Pageant of the Masters and The Festival of Arts.
Why did Dennis and Lois Galt go every year for 30 years to see the Pageant. Wasn’t it pretty much the same show? “No, the show changes every year,” says Dennis Galt. “You might see several of the masters from year to year but then you might go four or five years before you see the same work of art featured again as part of the tableau art. The only thing that hardly ever changes is the closing . . . and that is the beautiful Da Vinci presentation of ‘The Last Supper.’ One year they featured the Salvador Dali representation of ‘The Last Supper,” and it was just unbelievably good. Whatever they do, it is one of the most magnificent works of art you’ll ever see.”
The Pageant of the Arts utilizes the art from what is known as tableaux vivants, or living pictures, which originated centuries ago in Europe. Long ago, when many Europeans didn’t know how to read, the tableaux vivant would bring biblical scenes to life in villages and towns. The art form soon expanded to portray areas dealing with mythology, history, art, literature and even politics.
While The Pageant of the Masters is celebrating its 75th year this year, the art form goes back for at least a thousand years. In 1842, when Charles Dickens visited New York City, he was honored by a series of tableaux vivant which depicted scenes from some of his novels. The Pageant of the Masters employs master in the world of makeup, wardrobe, scene building, music, and lighting.
What you see currently all began back in 1932 with the first Pageant getting off the ground in 1933. Except for the war years, 1942-45, the Festival/Pageant has been an annual event since the premiere years, presented first in downtown Laguna Beach, then later moved to its present site in the canyon.
The facility offers 232 seats within a natural bowl, and the entire campus covers 5.6 acres. Some 500 volunteers contribute more than 60,000 hours to the project. This year’s theme will focus on the lives and legends of actors, singers, dancers and other performers depicted in the works of art from many genres and geographic locations.
Today, the Pageant is recognized as the ultimate theatrical celebration of art in living pictures. Nearly 150,000 people will attend this summer’s performances. Guests will enjoy a symphony orchestra and live narration in a starlit amphitheater in Laguna Beach. It is a one of a kind experience.
The Pageant of the Masters will continue nightly through August 30th. General tickets are $20 to $100 depending upon seat location and the night of the week. Ticket holders may also present their ticket stubs for free entrance to the Festival of the Arts front gate for free admission.
For additional information, call 949.497.6852 or toll free 800.487.3378.
Scene from “Moulin Rouge” by Toulouse-Lautrec
Can you spot the actor(s)?
Scene from ‘Le Cafe Concert Aux Ambassadeurs’ by Edgar Degas. Can you spot the actor(s)?
More magic in the Makeup Room, getting an actress ready for her role in Juan Baptiste Oudry’s “Italian Comedians In a Park,” circa 1725