Cats jumping from great heights was just one of the many amazing stunts performed in juggler-extraordinaire Gregory Popovich's Comedy Pet Theater.

Paul Wellman

Cats jumping from great heights was just one of the many amazing stunts performed in juggler-extraordinaire Gregory Popovich's Comedy Pet Theater.

Popovich Comedy Pet Theater

At Marjorie Luke Theatre, Saturday, December 15.

The excitement was palpable as calliope-esque circus music filled the theater and kids wiggled in their seats in anticipation of the show. The entertainment for the evening was the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater, starring Gregory Popovich and his performing dogs and cats. Not just silly pet tricks, the Comedy Pet Theater is a top-notch variety show that includes the juggling, physical comedy, European-style clowning, balancing, and jump-roping talents of Popovich and his four-person ensemble, as well as feats of skill by his highly trained animals.

When the lights dimmed, the curtains parted to reveal nearly 20 cats trotting continuously up and down zigzagging ramps as the audience hooted and hollered with delight. (Popovich has definitely mastered the art of herding cats.) He then introduced the rest of his menagerie, which included dogs, white mice, and white pigeons. The animals, all adopted from shelters, made appearances throughout the evening, showing off their abilities. For example, there was the dog that sat on a small platform attached to a long pole that Popovich balanced on his forehead while tossing balls to the dog, who caught them in his mouth and placed them in a bucket on the perch. And there was the cat that first climbed up a nearly 10-foot pole and then jumped down onto Popovich’s shoulder.

Although it was impressive to see the animal stunts, the real star of the show was Popovich, who continually wowed the audience with his agility, artistry, and athleticism. Born to Russian circus performers, Popovich started juggling when he was six. By the time he was 17, he’d earned himself a spot in the Great Moscow Circus Group. Mind you, the Moscow Circus isn’t dancing elephants and clowns with big shoes and water-squirting plastic daisies but rather a serious art form that, in Russia, is regarded as on par with the ballet or opera. In addition to performing, Popovich-who has several gold medals and holds multiple world records in the art of juggling-spent five years earning the special degree of Circus Creator and Producer.

One of the most amazing stunts of the evening-and there were many-was when Popovich climbed to the top of a free-standing ladder and stood on it as if it was a pair of stilts, all while juggling six bowling pins. Charming and funny, Comedy Pet Theater provided an excellent and unique night of entertainment for the whole family.

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