[ATTENDED: April 18, 2015] Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre
This show was playing at McCarter Theater and at RVCC. It was at least $10/ticket cheaper at RVCC, so good for us! The RVCC show was a general admission seating situation, so we got there much earlier than we normally do for shows. Of course, so did everyone else and we wound up sitting pretty far back (I was glad that people were actually coming to an RVCC show!).
But that was okay, because we could still see all of the action and all of the pets perfectly.
Some fascinating things to note about Popovich before I even get to the show. Despite the name, the show is not only pets. In fact there are a lot of human clowns and acrobats and performers on stage as well. Evidently Popovich is quite well-known and has appeared on many TV shows. And the whole show is told as a vague kind of story.
When we arrived, one of the troupe was standing in the aisle with a cat on his shoulder. Tabby got to pet the cat, which was sweet. Then a man in a cool green outfit (a big flared jumpsuit) with some white face on came down the aisle eating popcorn. He played some jokes on people in the audience and then climbed on stage. He was a kind of warm up, doing cheesy jokes (the fingers transferring from one hand to the other joke), and then doing a bit with a balloon that he could not move. He was a really convincing mime and that bit was great, especially when the other guy came out and tried to pull the balloon away and couldn’t. It was all simple but when it’s done well, it’s really magical.
Then the show began. There was a ringmaster and two jumping acrobats–I love how easily they can do handstands and flips. And then a train pulled up and all kinds of animals get onto it. It was really cute–dogs (all the dogs had shorts on) with tickets, cats, even rats and doves. They all filed onto the train and were driven away. Each of the show’s 15 cats and 10 dogs were once strays who were rescued from animal shelters (there’s a video that shows us as much). The animals also includes geese, white doves, and parrots—all of which show off onstage by performing a variety of stunts and skits.
In between animal acts there were a series of interesting, dare I say European, acrobatics. There was lots of juggling, an amazing sequence in which Popovich climbed a ladder (which was not leaning on anything), a sequence involving a ramp and some rolling tubes and a very funny bit with a funnel and water. I really enjoyed the bit where he manipulated three blocks–sort of like juggling but not exactly, and then he added about 20 more–holding them aloft while not actually holding them.
Tabitha said a few times that she wanted the pets to come back (they did promise a lot of pets), but I thought the humans did an admirable job. There was a young female Popovich who did some juggling and hula hoop work. My suspicion is that she is his daughter and is fairly new to the act–she was fine, but not as mind-blowing as the others. And the white-faced guy came back with a parrot and had a funny routine with him.
But really this was all about the pets. And yes, there was a fire sequence with the animals being rescued by other animals. There was a very funny classroom sequence. There was a great section with 15 cats on stage at once each doing a trick, especially the one whose special trick was “doing nothing.” There were dachshund puppies who leaped over hoops. I won’t spoil the surprise animals who came out, although I will say I marveled at how he got geese to do what he wanted (he has books and DVDs for sale about how to get your own cats and dogs to do these tricks).
And as I said, there was a kind of story to the show–if I can summarize, Popovich was a businessman. He was sprinkled with circus dust and turned into a clown. He was not welcomed into the circus but (after a strange animated video) managed to create his own. And he became a huge success (this section included a montage of all the time he’d been on TV). I think that was the plot, but it doesn’t really matter. We came for animals and we got plenty.
It was a super fun time for kids and adults. The only disappointment was that they had two swinging ladders suspended from the ceiling, but they never used them. I wonder what that could have been for.
Now, I wonder if he’ll do the same show at McCarter.