Ready for ‘The Time Machine’?

Lily Loesch (right), tried out for a part in the 2019 Pageant of the Masters. Part of the process is to have body measurements taken, along with their height being noted and to also have their picture taken. Pageant Artist David Cooke (left) measures Lily's height. This is Lily's 11th year of trying out and participating in the Pageant - this year she's volunteering in the Men's Wardrobe. It's a family affair for the Loesch families from Los Alamitos, of Lily, 17; Anthony "Tony" Loesch, Charlie,7; Mazy, 4, and Nate Loesch. Both Tony and Nate have standing parts in "The Last Supper," which is the closing scene of the Pageant. Tony portrays Christ and Nate depicts Apostle Bartholomew.

The Pageant of the Masters is here

By Loreen Berlin

Be prepared to be amazed at the Pageant of the Masters as they launch their “The Time Machine” adventure this year.

Local artists and craftsmen create the scenes that are enhanced by lighting specialists for a truly mesmerizing evening, with lots of fun surprises during the evening.

By the way, when Pageant Director Diane Challis-Davy was asked which was “her” favorite scene for 2019, she said, “Oh, that would be too difficult, but I can tell you, ‘not to leave early’ or you’ll miss a great surprise and I cannot tell you what that is.”

Tickets are still available at

Lily Loesch from Los Alamitos was asked, “How old were you when you got involved in the Pageant of the Masters?”

Her answer may be a surprise, because she’s technically been involved since before, she was born, for her mother, Mary, portrayed, “John the Beloved” in the last scene, “The Last Supper” of the Pageant for many years until after Lily was born; then, Mary took a hiatus.

“A lot of people would hold me as a baby-in-arms while my mother was in the scene,” Lily said. “I was that young; I’ve been at the Pageant most of my life – it’s been like a home-away-from home and it’s a great family experience, since my Dad (Anthony “Tony”) and my cousin Nate are in ‘The Last Supper,’ and Nate’s son is in the Pageant too this year.”

Lily, now 17, was chosen to help in Men’s Wardrobe this year.

There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes before the audience gets to view the actual vignette or “Living Picture,” which is where Lily’s job comes into play, by helping the volunteers get into not only their costumes for onstage, but the preparatory undergarments that are necessary before the costume is placed on the volunteers.

First, costumes for men and boys starts with a layer of a white-or-black cotton shirt and cotton undershorts, before the actual costume and head piece are applied, so the volunteer can easily put their various costumes over the first layer. Makeup is applied before the costume is adjusted on each volunteer.

Does Lily have a favorite costume? “No, I’m not a person who finds a favorite one,” she said, going on to mention that there are several different costumes that have many pieces to them and that the Pageant recently, has a lot of “live action” scenes where suits, ties and coats are applied “in the scene” onstage.

One such “inter-active” scene from last year was, “The Beach Scene” where the cast interacted with the audience by tossing several large inflated orange beach balls from the stage, then from guest-to-guest as part of the scene; it really was a fun and active scene that brought lots of smiles and laughter. For each guest who caught one of the orange beach balls, they had to return that beach ball but were gifted an un-inflated beach ball to take home.

“The Pageant really is a great experience with children 5-6-years-old up to some volunteers that are 80-years of age who are still involved in the Pageant, which helps to have added culture around the art pieces,” Lily continued.

To get involved in the Pageant, it all starts in January of each year, when tryouts are held. That’s when anyone who’s willing to be a volunteer for the length of the show from the second week of July to the end of August, shows up at the tryouts to have their measurements from their wrist, to their height, waist, neck and head measurements taken and recorded on paper and camera.

When each scene is chosen for the year, the regular staff looks over those who have tried out to see if they fit a particular scene they are working on; then selected individuals are called for a rehearsal and put into a set to see if they indeed do fit the scene.

“Sometimes a 5-year-old boy could be chosen to portray an old man in a scene or a female may be chosen to be in a man’s costume,” Lily continued. “My older sister was involved with the Pageant for 15-years before going to college and I want to hit that number too;  so far, I’ve had the opportunity to explore being part of the cast, head dress and Men’s Wardrobe.”

During the nearly two-month run of the Pageant, there’s a blue and a green cast that alternates seven-days-on and seven-days-off, so that volunteers get a reprieve.

With the annual 2019 Pageant of the Masters theme being “The Time Machine,” there are bound to be lots of  “clocks” in various scenes. Here we see a sneak-peak of two clocks that will be seen during the presentation.

What doesn’t change, except for two or three years in the past, is the concluding scene, “The Last Supper.” Those people are mostly cast from the same group each year, as they already fit that scene.

Those familiar with the oil painting of, “The Last Supper” by Leonardo de Vinci, find that’s an overall favorite at the end of the Pageant; however, there are two other artists who have also painted “The Last Supper” that have been used to conclude the Pageant of the Masters.

Those are, “The Sacrament of the Last Supper” by Salvador Dalí, completed in 1955, after nine months of work and Andy Warhol’s synthetic polymer painting from 1986.

That having been said, Anthony “Tony” Loesch has portrayed Christ in de Vinci’s “The Last Supper” for 20 years and his nephew, Nate Loesch, both from Los Alamitos, has portrayed Bartholomew for 11 years, which is the far-left Apostle leaning on the table in the painting.

Nate, who sports no hair on top of his head in real life said with a big smile, “I have hair in The Last Supper picture.” Nate just happens to be the right height and build to portray Bartholomew.

In 20 years, Tony hasn’t taken a break in portraying Christ except for the two years when the Pageant used Salvador Dali’s Last Supper scene.

As a life time member, Tony explained that a person can be a member of the board; vote and get two free tickets to the Pageant each year for the rest of their life.

Since opening in 1932, the Pageant has grown; now, approximately 500 volunteers contribute more than 60,000 hours each summer, with cast members coming from all over, including locally, Riverside and San Diego and they range in age from 4-yrs. to late 80s.

The Pageant is set for July 7 through August 31. For information and to purchase tickets, visit

Photos by Loreen Berlin

Ready for ‘The Time Machine’?