Gregory Popovich has been entertaining folks the world over with his furry co-stars for years, and it just gets more fun as time passes.
The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater show arrives in Red Deer on Oct. 14th, with a performance at the Red Deer College Arts Centre.
From start to finish, it’s described as a, “Rollicking family-oriented blend of the comedy and juggling skills” of Popovich, and of course features the amazing talents of the critters he shares the stage with.
It’s also something really special to Popovich on a personal note, as each of the more than 30 pets featured in the show has been rescued from animal shelters, and, as his web site puts it so aptly, given a, ‘New leash on life.’
Sometimes people don’t know what they are getting into when they get a pet, and the responsibility proves too much. So off the pet goes to a shelter. Still, animals deserve a measure of respect of course.
“In my show, I try to send a main message of animals are people, too,” he said.
“They love to perform their skills and stunts on stage. We have new additions to the show as well – a goat duo Kurt and Helgo, and a special guest star Mr. Diamond, the miniature horse.”
For Popovich, who originally hails from the Ukraine, there is a long and grand family history that has enriched today’s performances.
Although he was initially a juggler, and came to the U.S. 26 years ago as a juggler, he’s also a fifth-generation animal trainer and there simply is no life like it, he said.
“When I moved to Las Vegas, I started thinking about creating something new, something fresh.” Back then, it was pretty much all about Cirque de Soleil and shows along that line.
Shows featuring animals weren’t really on the radar.
But he stuck to it.
“I tried to do it step by step by myself. Eventually, my biggest supporter was the audience.”
And the rest, as they say, is history as the show caught on and became an international hit.
“My show also has a lot of physical comedy – it’s not only a pet show. It’s kind of a competition between human talent and pet talent. The audience has to decide who is more talented,” he said with a laugh, adding that it’s truly a family show.
These days, he is also an author – he has penned two books – You CAN Train Your Cat and Doggy Gone Good.
“Those books are not only about training, but also about how you can live with your pets, and how you can adapt to them growing up and as they get older – how you can best deal with that, too. They’re about how you can make life easier for you and your pet. It’s helpful information for the future pet owner.”
Meanwhile, looking back over his life and heritage, it’s been a joy working with animals.
“We traveled all over the country,” he recalls of his younger years performing with the family as part of a master circus act that entertained crowds far and wide.
He finds pets sometimes easier to communicate with than humans, he added with a chuckle. And they are a whole lot smarter than people might think. “They are very smart – smart enough to ignore me sometimes,” he laughed.
The cats – no surprise here – still tend to have a mind of their own. But overall, the pets are game to learn all kinds of things via Popovich’s amazing knack for training.
He has also produced and starred in a feature film now available for purchase.
Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West has already won several awards including Audience Choice Award at the Dances With Films Festival in Los Angeles, and the International Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
On top of all of this, his mesmerizing skills haven’t gone unnoticed in Hollywood and beyond.
Popovich and his pets were finalists on America’s Got Talent, and he has landed guest spots on TV shows with Jay Leno, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson.
He was also a feature on Animal Planet and many more.
Popovich himself has been voted in Las Vegas as ‘Entertainer of the Year’ as well.
For tickets, check out www.blackknightinn.ca.