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From left, Kirsten Potter (Valerie), Richard Doyle (Jack), and Tony Ward (Brendan) chat in a local pub setting during rehearsal of "The Weir" at South Coast Repertory. The drama was on stage earlier this year. Doyle is the new voice of the Pageant of the Masters.
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Pageant of Masters names new narrator


The Pageant of the Masters is announcing today that actor Richard Doyle will be the new narrator of the pageant, which is celebrating its 78th season this summer.

Doyle, 66, is a founding cast member of South Coast Repertory. He has starred in dozens of roles at the theater, including a critically lauded performance as main character Jack in "The Weir," which closed April 3.

Doyle, an Irvine resident, has also appeared in numerous TV shows and movies over the past five decades, including roles in "Cheers," "Air Force One" and "Coma." He has provided voices for hundreds of video games, and has done voice-over work for scores of TV commercials.

In 2009, he won a Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award from Arts Orange County, honoring his lifetime of achievements.

"Apart from South Coast Repertory, I really can't think of another arts institution or arts venue that has the kind of reputation that the pageant does, and actually goes back further than ours," Doyle said in an exclusive interview. "This is unique among the jobs that I've had. To do something that I've never done before – that's really interesting."

Doyle will a fill a job vacated by Skip Conover, who retired in August after 16 years of never missing a show. Conover, 72, has lived with his wife, Patty, in Nevada since 2003, and stayed in a Laguna Beach apartment during the summers specifically to do the pageant.

Before Conover, Thurl Ravenscroft, popularly known as the voice of Tony the Tiger, provided narration for the pageant for 20 years.

"I hope to be able to add something, as well as fill some very big shoes," Doyle said.

Pageant director Diane Challis Davy said the nonprofit Festival of Arts, which runs the pageant, didn't have to conduct an extensive search for the high-profile position.

"We knew we wanted Richard Doyle; whether he was willing to do it was another matter," Davy said. "His regular speaking voice is perfect as it is, but it's nice to know he has this acting range, and he can give us virtually any color we might want to have. The versatility is there. His knowledge of art and literature is stellar. In so many ways, he's the perfect fit for the pageant, and I hope it goes well."

Doyle said he has already practiced with scripts and looks forward to doing run-throughs soon. The pageant relies on dozens of volunteers to bring artworks to life in a series of tableaux vivants, or "living pictures."

The theme for the 78th pageant is "Only Make Believe," and the outdoor, nighttime show begins July 7.

Contact the writer: 714-796-6026 or rchang@ocregister.com

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