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


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

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.

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




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



Backstage at Pageant of the Masters. (photography courtesy of

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.

“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, 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




Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson, July 6, FivePoint Amphitheater, Irvine

Los Lobos, July 14, OC Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa

Beck and Cage the Elephant, July 17, FivePoint Amphitheatre, Irvine

Jefferson Starship, July 18, The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano

Ted Nugent, July 23-24, The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano


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Pacific Symphony starts July with a bang

July 4 takes flight at the Pacific Amphitheatre when Pacific Symphony kicks off its SummerFest with “Hotel California: A Salute to the Eagles.” The third season at the orchestra’s summer home begins with an Eagles tribute band joining the orchestra, followed by patriotic tunes and holiday fireworks. Other summer concerts include the orchestra performing John Williams’ soundtrack alongside a screening of “Star Wars: A New Hope” (Aug. 17) and the traditional “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” (Sept. 7). New this year is a special event, “Hail to the Heroes,” honoring veterans and first responders (Sept. 8). And there’s plenty more this summer from the orchestra: Kid-friendly Symphony in the Cities concerts in Mission Viejo (July 27), Costa Mesa (July 28), Orange (Aug. 3) and Irvine (Aug. 4), plus performances of Broadway and opera tunes as part of the Mission San Juan Capistrano “Music Under the Stars” series (July 21). Prefer your classical music indoors? Pacific Symphony will take part in two concerts at Christ Cathedral: with vocalist Jackie Evancho as part of the Catholic cathedral’s dedication festivities (July 13) and a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth (Aug. 1).

SEE IT: “Hotel California: A Salute to the Eagles,” 8 p.m. July 4.

OC Fair & Event Center88 Fair Dr, Costa MesaTicketing and other event information available online.





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A night of Kanye West’s music, art and Spanish wine presented by I like this grape

Naushad Huda and Kathy Lajvardi met over a decade ago at a creative event in Los Angeles. At that time, Huda headed a digital brand agency called XTOPOLY and Lajvardi was working in the movie industry focusing in motion graphics. She spent some time in art direction and dabbled on feature film trailers such as Iron Man, while also doing some commercial work for Mazda and Apple. But, it was Lajvardi’s time in concert graphics that led her to work for musical artists such as Madonna and Beyoncé and inspired her to meld music with her art. “She has a unique visionary sense when it comes to art,” says Huda, co-founder of I like this grape, a digital wine source guide, marketplace and community curated by young under-the-radar sommeliers. “Both her and I are big fans of Kanye West – his creativity and impact on culture is incredible.”

So with their digital and creative backgrounds Huda and Lajvardi created I like this grape. The couple’s prime mission: make wine relatable to modern audiences. “My background in digital strategy and consumer experiences helped major brands relate their products/brand to modern-day consumers whose habits and paths to purchase are much different than before,” says Huda. “I did this through research, technology and creativity with a bit of instinct.”

For Huda, this skill set fused with the talents of a stable of sommeliers allowed him to develop I like this grape, which helps wine drinkers better navigate the intimidating wine world. “I strongly believe that these [sommelier] voices need to be heard and content should be created around and with them,” he says. “What we’re doing for wine and sommeliers is like what Food Network did for food and chefs.” I like this grape will host its inaugural event on April 12 at a private residence in Laguna Beach. The evening will fuse full-bodied Spanish wines with Lajvardi’s art and Kanye West’s music. Coast magazine caught up with Huda and Lajvardi to see what they have planned for the gloriously bacchanalian evening:

Tell us how did you first come up with the “I Like This Grape” event series?

We started three years ago with the goal of making wine relatable to today’s audiences and giving young interesting diverse Sommeliers a platform to rise on. … This year the goal is to experiment with live events, but to do it in a way that was creative, in-line with our brand, and fulfilled our goals of making wine relatable, while also giving young Somms a way to shine.

Kanye West’s music is a key element of your April 12 event, how did he come to mind as the perfect audible pairing for this interactive experience?

Both wine and Kanye’s music cross all categories of people, can be integrated into any environment, and are constantly evolving. Using Kanye West as an inspiration gave us a vast sea of music that spreads across many styles. Similarly to great artists that came out of Spain, painters like Picasso or authors who spent a significant amount of time in Spain such as Hemingway, whose art transcend time; we believe Kanye’s music and influence in culture from fashion to music to even stage production will do the same …

Ms. Lajvardi, please explain your technique, how did the music and wine help shape your work?

When I first began this project, I researched and listened to his entire catalog (again!), watched the music videos for each song. I wanted to know and feel the thoughts that went into creating the music. I brought all that to the oil on canvas paintings. The paintings are full of texture and passion. They are sensual, and vibrant, and each tell my story of each song. Of course, there were wine tastings going on… Through Spanish wine I let the rawness of the flavors and stories of these incredible artisans that produce the wine come through in the art.

Mr. Huda, please tell us of other dream SOMMX collaborations that you might develop in the future?

Dream collaborations would be with an artist. Someone who crosses boundaries in fashion, film, food, sports, and music … There are too many amazing artists to name, but of course doing something with Kobe Bryant would be incredible, or the Sachel jazz ensemble would be out of bounds!

Tickets are available online ::



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Soka University Peace Gala earns $1 million for scholarships

“Thank you” was the refrain of students holding candles as they lined the bridge over Peace Lake at Soka University of America’s Aliso Viejo campus. They were expressing gratitude to each of the 488 supporters making their way to the university’s 13th annual Peace Gala, who would by the end of the evening donate a whopping $1 million to fund scholarships that give deserving youths a chance to earn a college degree.

  • Jim Amp, Sheila Peterson, Fritz Coleman

    Jim Amp, Sheila Peterson, Fritz Coleman

  • Guests-Crossing-Peace-Lake

  • Sosa CFO Arch Asawa and student speaker Vasko Yorgov

    Sosa CFO Arch Asawa and student speaker Vasko Yorgov

  • Danny Habuki and Samantha Dunn

    Danny Habuki and Samantha Dunn

  • Joan May, Chris Mann, Dita Shemke

    Joan May, Chris Mann, Dita Shemke

  • Deja Johnson and Nate Ray

    Deja Johnson and Nate Ray



The sound of Japanese taiko drums reverberated in the October evening as guests filled the venue for a night of dining and entertainment, for which Coast served as the media sponsor.

The lighthearted humor of master of ceremonies Fritz Coleman, longtime weatherman for NBC4 News, set a jovial tone. Next up was Bulgarian-born student Vassil “Vasko” Yorgov, who told of emigrating to the U.S. as a child and being given the opportunity to attend Soka thanks to the scholarship program.

After dining on a gourmet dinner provided by Coastal Catering, guests enjoyed the uplifting music of “The Voice” finalist Chris Mann.

“The annual theme of celebrating peace is more important than ever as we face a world with increasing violence and conflict,” Danny Habuki, the university’s president, told the crowd. “I hope our university continues to support the development of future graduates with the passion and determination to contribute toward a more peaceful world.” Soka gala committee founding members Joan May and Dita Shemke were event co-chairs for the 12th consecutive year.

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Hearts support St. Joseph Hospital

Stepping on stage at the City National Grove of Anaheim, singer Martina McBride serenaded a crowd of more than 450 guests at St. Joseph Hospital’s 2017 celebration Oct. 7.

Physicians, hospital staff and community leaders came together to build awareness and support for the hospital’s heart and vascular center.

“Support for better technology and improved ways to treat heart disease is a top priority for all of us,” said Jeremy Zoch, chief executive of St. Joseph Hospital.

The event raised more than $450,000 for the hospital’s Heart and Vascular Center and a new cardiac catheterization lab.  Next-generation catheterization labs improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of patient care, according to the hospital.

“Thanks to innovative technology and new approaches to keeping the heart healthy, we can treat heart disease today like never before,” said Brian Kolski, a St. Joseph cardiologist.

Santo and Josephine Zito were presented with the St. Joseph award. The honor goes to supporters who have demonstrated significant support and commitment to the hospital.

Kolski addressed supporters saying, “We are very thankful for all the supporters who will make a difference in the lives of many Orange County families.”

For more information visit,

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Big hitters go to bat for Deirdre Pujols fundraiser

  • Terry Dubrow, Heather Dubrow, Deidre Pujols and Albert Pujols

    Terry Dubrow, Heather Dubrow, Deidre Pujols and Albert Pujols

  • Trey Morris and Kandis Morris

    Trey Morris and Kandis Morris

  • Dr. Henry Nicholas III and Betoul Azzeh

    Dr. Henry Nicholas III and Betoul Azzeh

  • Albert Pujols and Deidre Pujols

    Albert Pujols and Deidre Pujols

  • Mark Mills and Kirk Scott

    Mark Mills and Kirk Scott

  • Taylor Torrellas and Ralph Torrellas

    Taylor Torrellas and Ralph Torrellas

  • Tenth Avenue North band-members Mike Donehey, Brendon Shirley

    Tenth Avenue North band-members Mike Donehey, Brendon Shirley



All eyes were on Deidre Pujols as she stepped up to the podium to share her inspiration behind creating Open Gate International. Pujols is CEO of the nonprofit, started this year, and wife to Angels first baseman Albert Pujols.

“Burdens are a blessing because they propel us to do something,” said Deidre Pujols. “That something for me was Open Gate International, helping people find their identity and value in life and hearing their dreams and their passions.”

The gala was held at the Duke Hotel Newport Beach on July 17, raising more than $729,000.

“Heroes and Living Legends” served as a perfect theme as the gala’s guest list included Albert Pujols, former second baseman and Angels announcer Jose Mota, Baseball Hall of Fame coach Tony La Russa and local celebrities, including Terry and Heather Dubrow.

Open Gate International says it has impacted hundreds of lives since its inception in January.
The organization gives those who have been victims of sex trafficking and exploitation the opportunity to learn vocational skills like culinary arts and floral design.

Pujols said, “With the support of those who attend and share our belief in the value of providing sustainable life skills and vocational training to vulnerable individuals, we hope to come together for many more successful years.”

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