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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Comedy pet theater in Modesto

Dec 03, 2010 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --

If it weren't for Gregory Popovich, dozens of pets could have had an early death.

He rescues cats and dogs from animal shelters and puts them in his traveling "Comedy Pet Theater" show, which is coming to the State Theatre in Modesto on Thursday.

The show came to the Turlock Community Theatre in March. Popovich and the talented animals also have appeared on "The Late Show with David Letterman," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and Animal Planet.

"We show how smart they are, how talented they are," Popovich said. "We nickname our show 'Second Chance.' " About 30 pets will dance, fly through the air, balance on a ladder and learn math and geography lessons in "school." Popovich said he watches the pets at his house and builds tricks around their natural abilities and habits.

"I don't push them to go against their nature," he said.

The 90-minute show also includes variety acts from the Moscow Circus and lots of European-style physical comedy. There will be acrobats, juggling and balancing acts.
Popovich grew up in a family of Russian circus performers and performed with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus before starting his own act. Because his mother was a pet trainer, he found it natural to work with animals.

"For me, it was easy to communicate with pets -- easier than communicating with humans," he said.

He uses his shows in California to promote the state's Pet Lovers license plate. Proceeds from sales of the license plate are distributed to cities and counties for free and low-cost spay/neuter programs.

In Modesto, he also is partnering with the Humane Society of Stanislaus County, which will bring shelter animals to the lobby of the State Theatre.

He thinks the performance will offer something for everybody.

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