My Comedy Pet Theater show is quite an unusual show because the pets are the main actors while the humans merely help out! Allow me to explain…
All my cats and dogs are strays that have been saved from animal shelters. Just like your pets, my four-legged companions are very special to me. Years ago, when I came up with the idea to create a show with many animals, I began looking for furry performers for my show. At the suggestion of a friend, I visited an animal shelter to see if I could find a talented animal to adopt. In Russia, animal shelters like the ones here in the United States, don’t exist; while I was visiting the shelters, I was sad to see SO many wonderful cats and dogs without homes and without the love of a family. This sight motivated me even more to create my animal show! I could set some of the animals free, and let these once-homeless creatures enjoy their lives, and at the same time, teach people that the animals in shelters are talented and lovable! In fact, the show should be called “A Second Chance”, because that’s exactly what my animals, and any of your adopted pets, have been given. A second chance to live their lives while enriching ours.
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. 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. For example, one of my cats, Mischa, loves to jump. So I incorporate his love for jumping into my show. Another cat of mine, Sugar, loves to climb, so I let him show off his climbing abilities onstage. By allowing my pets to perform the skills and stunts they naturally love to do, they enjoy performing as much as the audience loves watching! My show is indeed a “theater”, because when my furry actor family members perform for you, they are showing you their very favorite trick!
In this high technology age our children’s lives have become dominated by the artificial world of the internet and television. They have become disconnected from our natural surroundings and make only rare contact with animal and plant life. As a lover of animals, I strongly promote the practice of adopting a dog or cat from a local shelter. The contribution this practice makes to the animal world is indeed a life saver and the responsibility a child can learn from caring for a pet will endure a lifetime. Furthermore, the love and companionship created through a special bond between a pet owner of any age and his/her pet is invaluable.
If you’ve seen my show, perhaps you can relate to some of the things I’ve mentioned, and if not, I hope to see you very soon.
Thank you for your support, and remember, “Animals are People Too!”
HOW IT ALL BEGAN:
Gregory Popovich grew up in a unique environment, as the child of Russian circus performers Alex and Tamara Popovich. In addition to their juggling and performing skills, Gregory’s parents were dog trainers. From a very young age, Gregory formed a special bond with animals. Eventually, the connection he formed with his mother’s showdogs led to his participation onstage, assisting with Tamara’s dog act. At the age of six, Gregory began to learn the art of juggling. Eight years later, he prepared his first solo act – juggling on a free standing ladder. After the public debut of this feat, Gregory became a member of the great Moscow Circus Group at the age of 17.
For the next few years, Gregory traveled the world with the Moscow Circus. He eventually became the star of the circus, and was asked to be their representative at international circus competitions worldwide - in Paris, Brussels, Mexico City, and Monte Carlo. During this time, Gregory completed a special five year course, earning the degree of ‘Circus Creator and Producer’. He continued to work as a circus performer and also appeared in Soviet films, in three starring roles.
In 1990, Gregory was invited to join the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus in the United States. He performed his juggling act in the center ring, the first Russian artist to ever appear in the “Greatest Show on Earth”.
CATS IN THE SHOW:
In 1992, Gregory was invited to Las Vegas as a featured performer at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino. While practicing for the show, Gregory and his wife, Izolda, who was also a performer, decided to use their family kitten, Snowbird, in Gregory’s clown act. The audiences’ responses to the kitten act was consistently so great, that Gregory began to think about building an entire routine based on performing cats. Now, it was just a matter of finding the right cats.
A friend encouraged Gregory to visit an animal shelter to look for cats that could become the additional performing pets. Since there were no animal shelters in Russia, Gregory decided to follow his friend’s advice and look for new animal talent at the shelter. Upon his visit, Gregory was dismayed and stunned to see so many animals without a home or a loving family, animals that had so much potential, but had been discarded. He began to adopt and train cats from the shelter, and when they were ready, he introduced them as a part of his show. This venture eventually became the amazing “Cat Skills” act.
Cats are very independent animals, and as Gregory soon learned, each cat had its own personality and habits. The process of training cats is very tedious and time consuming and requires an enormous amount of individual attention. His “training” approach was to find out the natural abilities and talents of each cat, to see what skill or stunt the cat naturally liked to do. Then, he would work with the cat using those unique likes and dislikes and incorporate the cat’s performance into an act. The training began at home where the cats felt relaxed and comfortable. Gregory began working with a minimal amount of music and lights, repeating each trick and gradually increasing the intensity of sounds and lights. When the cat was accustomed to this routine, it was an easy transition from the living room to the stage.
The “Cat Skills” act, combined with Gregory’s superlative juggling, equilibrist balancing on the rolla bola, cigar box routine, and slack-wire expertise ultimately led to the formation of “The One Man Moscow Circus”. In 1995, Gregory took a short break from Circus Circus, and opted for a change of scenery, as the show went on a tour overseas, focusing solely on Japan. “The One Man Moscow Circus” and his cats toured to much acclaim in many of Japan’s major cities, including Hiroshima, Yokohama, Sapporo and Tokyo.
When Gregory returned to Las Vegas and Circus Circus, he wanted to expand the animal portion of his show. In addition to his popular cat act, Gregory began building an impressive dog act. Just like he recruited his cats, Gregory adopted all the show’s dogs from shelters, and incorporated their unique talents into his show. The show played for the next several years, and was voted “Best Family Attraction in Las Vegas”.
In 2000, Gregory took his show on the road, or rather, the world. Gregory and his cast thrilled audiences in over 20 countries, including France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Israel, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Canada. Additionally, the show was performed in numerous US cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Miami.
BACK IN LAS VEGAS:
The world tour concluded in 2005, at which point Gregory decided to return to Las Vegas. During the tour, Gregory had adopted a few more cats and dogs. He had started training all the animals for a new show, a new production which he was going to introduce as “The World Famous Comedy Pet Theater”. The addition of doves, white rats, and ferrets, balanced out the animal portion of the show. In June 2006, the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater made its debut at the V Theater in the Aladdin Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Gregory’s wife Izolda, and daughter Anastasia, are both performers in the show. The Popovich family lives in Las Vegas, along with their 25 furry family members.
Gregory’s goal is to educate people to the concept that every animal is unique and that people have a great responsibility to their pets. Both professionally and personally, Gregory strongly supports and promotes adopting an animal from the shelter and increasing participation in the practice to spay/neuter cats and dogs. Through his show and personal endeavors, Gregory hopes to enlighten people and increase awareness of the important role that humans play - the huge difference that one caring person can make to the animal world.
To show his support for animal shelters, sanctuaries, and organizations, Gregory has and will continue to participate in fundraising events, community awareness initiatives/programs, and cooperative opportunities in the local and national communities.
YOU’VE SEEN HIM IN…
The unique and entertaining Comedy Pet Theater and Gregory Popovich have been featured in countless newspapers across the globe, People Magazine, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Vegas Dog, Las Vegas Life ,and What’s On. Gregory has been a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Other television appearances include The Penn and Teller Special: Live From Vegas, Extreme Las Vegas, Thirty Seconds To Fame, and Animal Planet. Gregory’s adorable cats and dogs can also be seen on the Arm and Hammer Carpet Cleaner commercial.
Gregory Popovich is an international award winner of many different circus and juggling competitions. Below is a brief overview of some of his career award highlights.
• Gregory holds multiple world records in the Art of Juggling
• Grand Prize - Cuba International Circus Competition
• Gold Medal – Juggling World Championship, Belgium
• Gold Medal Winner for the international circus competition, Cirque de Demain Festival in Paris, France
• 1st place – all Russian Circus Act Competitions
• Gold Medal – Cirque de Demain Festival, Paris
• Gregory holds the award of Excellence as the Greatest Technical Master of All Times from the International Juggling Association
• Special Prize – World Circus Competition, Monte Carlo
• Best Act of Season – Mexico City, Mexico