Those looking for out-of-the-ordinary family entertainment, can find it in Gregory Popovich’s Comedy Pet Theatre. The Kent Arts Commission is proud to present this one-of-a-kind circus extravaganza as part of the 2004-2005 Spotlight Series. Internationally renowned circus performer, Gregory Popovich is joined by a star-studded troupe of performing pets. These gifted dogs and cats, all of which have been rescued from animal shelters, perform on Friday, April 29 at 8 p.m. at Kentwood High School Performing Arts Center (25800 164th Avenue SE, Covington.)
Gregory Popovich, the child of Russian circus performers, began learning the art of juggling at the age of six and became a member of the Great Moscow Circus Group at 17. For the next few years, he traveled the world with the Moscow Circus, eventually becoming the star of the show. In 1991, Popovich was invited to join the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Performing his juggling act in the center-ring, he was the first Russian artist to appear in the “Greatest Show on Earth.” Subsequently, he was invited to appear as a featured performer at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
While in Las Vegas, Gregory and his wife adopted a kitten and decided to put it on stage as part of Gregory’s show for just one act. The audience response to the adorable little kitten prancing around on stage and performing tricks was so great, that Popovich began to think about building an entire act based on performing cats. “When I came to America, I saw animal shelters for the first time, and it made me sad that so many kitties and dogs are just thrown out . . . And I thought that maybe I could give them all a second chance.” Popovich began visiting shelters regularly and adopting cats until he had enough “actors” for his new show.
The process of training cats, each with its own personality and habits, is very time-consuming and requires an enormous amount of individual attention. Popovich’s approach is to find out the natural abilities of each cat and then work with them using their unique likes and dislikes. “I don’t train the animals, really, and what I’ve learned is that no one trains a cat – they are very independent,” Popovich said. “I try to analyze them. And they trust me, and we play, and then they find a trick or two that they like to do. That’s what they do on stage.” Popovich vocally denounces the cruel methods some trainers use to make their animals perform. He stresses that he is gentle with his animals and his goal is to educate people that every animal is unique and that people have a great responsibility to their pets.
The Comedy and Pet Theatre show features routines by Popovich’s amazing entourage of cats, dogs, birds and white mice, as well as his superlative juggling, acrobatics and clowning. The show has been featured in People Magazine and The New York Times Sunday Magazine. Popovich has been a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Other television appearances include a Penn and Teller special, Extreme Variety from Las Vegas, Thirty Seconds to Fame and the Animal Planet. In addition, Popovich’s adorable cats and dogs can be seen on the Arm & Hammer Carpet Cleaner commercial.
Comedy Pet Theatre comes to Kent as part of the 2004-2005 Spotlight Series. Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased at the Kent Commons, 525 4th Avenue North, Kent, or by phone with a Visa or Mastercard from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (253) 856-5050. Spotlight Series is presented by the Kent Arts Commission and Kent Parks, Recreation and Community Services. For information call (253) 856-5050 or visit www.ci.kent.wa.us/arts.