Pageant of the Masters, Shakespeare at New Swan and more fun for July

We’re getting hungry for the OC Fair. (photography courtesy of
The list of things to do at Southern California casinos this week includes rock bands Kansas and Los Lonely boys and solo artist Don McLean.

New Swan Shakespeare Festival

It’s no secret the greatest box-office challenge to the English language’s most profound playwright and poet was not Shakespeare’s rival, Ben Johnson, nor Christopher Marlowe, but bear-baiting, by which some coward, no doubt in stretchy pants, teased some hapless animal into attacking him. The good news is, Shakespeare often came out on top because he didn’t write strictly for ivory tower chrome domes but for groundlings as well, the working stiffs who paid bare minimum to stand in front of the stage.

UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts’ New Swan Shakespeare Festival runs July 3-Aug. 30.(photography courtesy of

The good people at New Swan Shakespeare Festival are keenly aware of this group of proletarians long ignored by purveyors, pundits and connoisseurs. So, gather groundlings and chrome domes alike for the festival’s double bill of “The Merchant of Venice” (among the Bard’s greatest comedies) and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” (among his earliest), performed by company pros mixing with students in the drama department at UC Irvine.

WHEN: July 3-Aug. 30
WHERE: UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts, 4004 Mesa Road, Irvine
COST: $13-$57

Orange County Fair

If you’re hungry, eat a banana. You don’t go to the Orange County Fair to eat, you go to fetishize food, obsess over it, explore boundaries and discover exotic flavors that will strain your limits. Offerings in recent years include caramel drizzled fries, peanut butter and jelly sriracha funnel cake, big skillet cookies and OC Crunch Cinnamon Roll.

“Fried pineapple,” says the Fair’s Terry Moore, adding to the list of county comestibles, “the largest tomato, best cupcake, even tablescaping,” which is exactly what it sounds like.

And there’s music, too, though the lineup skews more Oldchella than Coachella at the Pacific Amphitheatre – Smokey Robinson, Styx, Pat Benatar, Dwight Yoakam, Ziggy Marley, Chicago, The B-52’s and Seal, with English Beat and Ozomatli at the Hangar. The Mariachi Festival has expanded this year and is steps up from the Hangar to the Amphitheatre.

At the Sports Arena they’re rocking X-treme Motocross, ATV and Quad races, for people who love speed and bumps and hate their kidneys.

WHEN: July 12-Aug. 11
WHERE: OC Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa
COST: $7-$14

Pageant of the Masters

Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa will continue the rock trend by hosting trio Los Lonely Boys. The band is probably best known for the hit “Heaven,” but some other popular songs include “Señorita,” “Crazy Dream” and “Nobody Else.”

The theme of this year’s one-of-a-kind art/theater mashup in Laguna Beach is time travel, giving director Diane Challis Davy wide parameters within which to work. Inspired by the classic sci-fi novel by H.G. Wells, “The Time Machine,” Challis Davy and screenwriter Dan Duling weave together a mystery about a scientist, a bump on the head and a magical sketchbook by a celebrated son of Anchiano holding 15 clues that, yes, take us through a world of living artworks.

Backstage at Pageant of the Masters. (photography courtesy of

“We’re doing a piece called ‘The City of Paris,’ which is a Cubist work, and it’s very challenging,” Challis Davy tells Coast of the 1911 canvas by Robert Delaunay. “The most difficult and challenging ones are the more realistic pictures. We have a couple from the Victorian Age and because they’re photorealistic that becomes very difficult.”

What’s less difficult is mid-19th century romanticist Jean-Leon Gerome’s epic canvas of “Napoleon and his General Staff in Egypt,” which begins the show, though that’s not to imply that history started with the vanquishing of bedouins. It didn’t. It began with nudes, perhaps even the trio of them in Georges Seurat’s pointillist “Les Poseuses.” Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson” is a crowd pleaser, as are iconic images ranging from the “The Day the Earth Stood Still” movie poster to Salvador Dali’s “The Nobility of Time” (floppy watch and all). The show ends on a culinary note with daVinci’s “The Last Supper,” all set to music by a full orchestra.

WHEN: July 7-Aug. 31
WHERE: 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
COST: $20-$198

San Clemente Ocean Festival

San Clemente Ocean Festival, July 20-21. (photography courtesy of

Get the little ones ready for the Dolphin Dash and the “Groms Rule” Surf Contest, and get the big ones ready for the Lifeguard Competition (first place takes $500). Get the rest ready for a roster of athletic battles like this year’s new additions, Tandem Boogie Boarding and the Pier Bowl Surf Classic. Add those to the Annual 5K Run, Dory Boat races, Open Ocean Paddle, Biathlon, One Mile Ocean Swim and just about everything else you can do but relax at the beach.

Of course, you could always just watch. There are no awards for that, but knowing you spent a weekend lolling in the sun instead of burning an actual calorie while others sweat and tumble all around you has its own virtues.

And while you’re in San Clemente, stop by Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens for a glance at artist Levi Ponce’s new mural related to SoCal’s coastline and ocean life on view through Sept. 8. Ponce is a rising star whose work has been exhibited at The Skirball Center and The Craft and Folk Art Museum.

WHEN: July 20-21
WHERE: San Clemente Beach
COST: free

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