Most of Orange County’s stages used to go dark in the dog days of summer, but now there’s more to choose from. We’ve chosen five productions that are worth pulling yourself away from the beach or the ball game. Some are old favorites, others could become a new in expensive tradition for your family.

For a comprehensive listing of arts and culture events happening around Orange County, go to

Pageant of the Masters

One of O.C.’s great summer cultural traditions is gathering in a beautiful amphitheater in Laguna Beach to watch volunteers stand Jell-O still as they recreate great works of art through the centuries, holding in place for several minutes each time to create the illusion. Every year the pageant has a different theme. This year it’s “The Time Machine”: audiences will be transported around the globe and into the past, present and future in search of great art.

WHEN: July 7 – Aug. 31

WHERE: Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

TICKETS: Starting of $20



This musical is blessed with a great pedigree (it’s based on E.L. Doctorow’s celebrated historical novel) and impressive staying power. “Ragtime” tells the intertwined stories of three people — a stifled married woman from the upper classes, a determined Jewish immigrant, and a daring young musician from Harlem. We aren’t sure how the Chance plans to pull off this big show on a small stage, but we are curious to see how they solve that puzzle. With music and lyrics by the Tony-winning team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens and a Tony-winning book by Terrence McNally.

WHEN: June 28-July28

WHERE: Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim Hills

TICKETS: starting at $35


“Welcome to the Hotel California: A Salute to the Eagles”

If you like your Fourth of July to include a big helping of classic rock music, consider Pacific Symphony’s line-up for the nation’s 243rd birthday. The “Hotel California” Eagles tribute band headlines an extravaganza that includes hits such as “Hotel California” and “Take It Easy.” They’re joined by members of the orchestra for a round of patriotic favorites, a salute to the U.S. armed forces and, of course, a fireworks finale.

WHEN: 8 p.m. July 4

WHERE: Pacific Amphitheatre at the OC Fair & Event Center, 100 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa

TICKETS: Starting at $25 ($12.50 for children)


Summer Jazz on Argyros Plaza

Free summer jazz returns to the Argyros Plaza at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, featuring live concerts every Friday on a large outdoor stage. On July 5 it’s Canadian pop crooner Matt Forbes and his vintage jazz orchestra. You can bring your lawn chair or sit on the Center’s permanent benches and hear a jazz concert emceed by KJZZ radio personality Bubba Jackson. Guests are welcome to bring picnic dinners and snacks, low beach chairs, and blankets, but no tables, please. No outside alcohol is permitted either, but alcohol is available for purchase at George’s Café on the plaza during the event.

WHEN: 7 p.m. most Fridays

WHERE: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa



“Mamma Mia!”

Either you love “Mamma Mia!” or you don’t. Its legions of fans show no sign of fading away, because it has been touring constantly since its creation more than 20 years ago. The latest incarnation of the ABBA-inspired musical set on a Greek island is coming to the Laguna Playhouse next month. If the mere mention of “Dancing Queen.” “Take a Chance,” “Money, Money, Money,” and “SOS” makes you start singing uncontrollably, then this is your summer jam.

WHEN: July 5-28

WHERE: Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

TICKETS: Starting at $71

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