Popovich’s pet circus coming to Macey Center

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Back by popular demand, Gregory Popovich’s Comedy Pet Theater will delight audience members of all ages with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27 at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center Auditorium.

A feel-good blend of comedy, juggling and circus acts performed by rescued dogs and cats is presented by the college’s Performing Arts Series.

“The holiday season is always about family, and so is this performance,” said PAS director Ronna Kalish. “Greg Popovich’s world-famous furry felines and canines always draw a crowd, and I’m sure this year will be no exception.”

The performance coincides with Socorro’s annual Candy Cane Parade and Arts Crawl, taking place later in the week.

Kalish added that the show is geared toward children and adults of all ages.

“And it indirectly supports the need for pet-rescue homes and spay-and-neuter programs to reduce the number of unwanted pets in the United States,” she said.

Popovich’s Comedy Pet Theater is making its third appearance at Macey Center, this time with a new “cast” of rescue animals taking center stage.

“Greg’s shows never get old,” Kalish said. “And since he’s been producing his popular shows at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas (Nev.) for the past four years, he’s added several new acts.”

Among them are “Pet Fire Marshals,” “Dog Football,” “Dr. Doolittle” and “Funny Geese.”

The Circus Fans Association of America awarded Popovich its 2009 Entertainer of the Year award for his “unique and most enjoyable performance.”

With his revamped show and the Brad Simon Organization handling management and touring, Popovich and his Comedy Pet Theater are filling venues and winning rave reviews for shows up and down the West Coast.

But there is more than meets the eye with the Comedy Pet Theater. For Popovich, the show is animated by a deep love of cats and dogs and a very serious, lifelong commitment to helping rescued pets.

“The Comedy Pet Circus is just a delightful show for families, and we hope to fill Macey Center with animal lovers of all ages,” Kalish said, adding that Popovich and the pets bring a special kind of energy to their performances that translate into enthusiasm and great fun.

Here are what others have said about the performances:

“The Popovich Pet Circus was magical,” said Dan Mayer, executive director at the Kirkland Performance Center in Kirkland, Wash. “It was a combination of juggling, clowning and animals that kept the audience engaged and entertained. Whether he was juggling rings, putting the cats through their paces or just clowning around, everyone was asking, ‘How does he do that?’”

“This is not just a fun show to see, it’s a fun show to book because the response is so positive,” said Brad Simon of his eponymous entertainment management group. “People just love to see pets doing amazing tricks. And Gregory has worked hard to bring a new level of excitement and enjoyment to his pet theater.”

One of the main messages of Popovich’s shows is to bring attention to animal shelters, and the many homeless pets and rescue efforts on their behalf. He has said that because all the pets in his shows have been rescued by animal shelters, he feels it’s his mission to “pay back” the shelters, and to try to help other pets at every opportunity.

Popovich and his extraordinary pet partners have been featured on “The Tonight Show,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “America’s Got Talent” and Discovery Channel’s “Animal Planet.”

He is currently busy with a number of projects outside of his live show, including promoting his new book “You CAN Train Your Cat,” and producing additional episodes of his new television show, “Comedy Pets.”

The entertainer and successful pet trainer grew up as the child of Russian circus performers Alex and Tamara Popovich. In addition to their juggling and performing skills, Gregory’s parents also were dog trainers.

From a very young age, Gregory formed a special bond with animals, especially his mother’s show dogs, which led to his participation on stage, assisting with her dog act. At the age of 6, Gregory began to learn the art of juggling.

Eight years later, he prepared his first solo act — juggling on a freestanding 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, he traveled the globe with the Moscow Circus, eventually becoming its star and representative at international circus competitions worldwide. During this time, Popovich completed a special five-year course and earned the degree of “Circus Creator and Producer.”

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for youth 17 and under, and are available at the New Mexico Tech Cashier’s Office (second floor of Fidel Center), Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, Burrito Tyme Drive-up or at the door.