Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre is a circus show that's gone to the dogs ... and cats
Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre is a circus show that's gone to the dogs ... and cats (video)
The Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre features 15 cats and 10 dogs, all of whom Gregory Popovich, a fourth-generation Russian circus performer, rescued from animal shelters. (Contributed photo)
By Matt Wake | firstname.lastname@example.org
April 15, 2013
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- A section of the bio reads, "Now, it was just a matter of finding the right cats." The statement reads like it could be a describing a pivotal moment in a musician's career and the need to hook up with sympathetic collaborators.
But in this case, the word "cats" refers to actual cats.
The Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre features 15 felines and 10 dogs, all of whom Gregory Popovich, a fourth-generation Russian circus performer, rescued from animal shelters. "A message of my show is that animals are people too," Popovich says, "and I try to bring attention to homeless pets."
On a recent afternoon, Popovich was aboard the Comedy Pet Theatre's custom-made 40-foot trailer when he's called for this interview. The show will roll into Huntsville, playing Merrimack Hall, located at 3320 Triana Blvd., April 16-17. Showtime for both evenings is 7:30 p.m., and tickets ($18-$25) can be purchased via merrimackhall.com, the Merrimack Hall Box Office or by calling 256-534-6455.
Based in Las Vegas, Popovich customized each of his pets' onstage tricks to match their natural skills and tendencies. He began working with them using a minimal amount of music and lights, repeating each trick and gradually increasing the intensity of sounds and lights, and once the animals were accustomed to this spectacle, it was time to transition from the living room to the stage.
"I don't believe that I 'train' the animals to do a certain trick or stunt, instead, I teach the animals to perform onstage by allowing them to show off their individual personalities and talents," Popovich says.
Comedy Pet Theatre cats and dogs walk tight ropes, balance on metallic balls, jump through hoops, jump rope, propel themselves on scooters and even play football.
The show also features (human) European-style clowns and balancing acts. Popovich's wife Izolda, and daughter Anastasia, are both performers in the show.
All told, Popovich has performed in over 25 countries, including France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Israel, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. "Next season we might go to Japan, and we're working on that right now," he says.
Popovich has also been a guest on "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and began juggling at age six. One of the highlights of his current Comedy Pet Theatre show is when Popovich juggles numerous bowling pins from the top of a free-standing, eight-foot ladder. In 1990, he was invited to join the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, becoming the first Russian performer ever to appear in "The Greatest Show on Earth."
"When we performed at Madison Square Garden, we played to 20,000 people," Popovich remembers. "It was a great experience."