Pet antics come to Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – You’ve heard people talk about herding cats.Gregory Popovich can actually do it.The Popovich’s Comedy Pet Theater combines comedy, juggling and performing pets. All the pets have been rescued from animal shelters because it’s the right thing to do, and because pure breds sometimes act like the poster children for why cousins should never marry.The theater in the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater is Gregory, his beautiful and talented assistant, jugglers, clowns, 15 house cats, 10 dogs, four geese, eight white doves and two parrots.No, there are no partridges in pear trees.Popovich waves off credit for training the animals to do stuff that the rest of us cannot train ourselves or our children to do. His animals are just naturally amusing, especially the cats. He just has to herd them.”I don’t believe that I train the animals to do a certain trick or stunt. Instead, I teach the animals to perform on stage by allowing them to show off their individual personalities and talents,” Popovich said.The World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater has been written up in People magazine, lauded by The New York Times and seen on David Letterman and Jay Leno. Former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson called Popovich the best juggler in the world.If you’ve been to the Vilar this year, you’ve seen him. He’s on the cover of the Vilar season program and just standing there, in that picture, he makes you smile and chuckle.European-style circusThe show is much more than cute animals walking on tight ropes. It’s a a full European-style circus, something Popovich knows all about. Popovich didn’t fall far from the circus tree. He’s the beloved offspring of famed Russian circus performers. They were dog handlers, so he’s a dog handler and cat handler and goose handler and … you get the idea.”Just like people, every pet has a special quirky little thing they like to do. This thing, or trait, allows the pet to show a unique part of his/her personality to their owner. This is what makes them who they are,” Popovich said.He was 14 when he put together his first solo act. Three years later he was traveling the world with the Moscow Circus Group, appearing as a star performer and appearing in Soviet films. He migrated to the U.S. in 1990 to take the center ring in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.Performing in the “Cat Skills”The animal act started with his own animal. He and his wife Izolda were performing at Circus Circus in Las Vegas when they included their white kitten, Snowbird. Audiences loved it and Gregory built a performing cat act.He started checking local animal shelters, picking up cats to train. Eventually, it became his famous “Cat Skills” act.What are cats without dogs?He added some dogs, also from local shelters, and spent years on the Las Vegas Strip, being voted “Best Family Attraction in Las Vegas.”In 2000, Popovich took his show on a global tour, performing for audiences in more than 20 countries.He added a few more dogs and cats, then some other creatures, and opened a huge production in June 2006, called the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater, at the V Theater in the Aladdin Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. He’s back on the road and will be in Beaver Creek Wednesday.