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January 17, 2013
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Comedy Pet Theater returns to the Avalon Saturday

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Fourth-generation circus performer Gregory Popovich and his cast of 30 pets and eight humans will perform a unique and possibly unforgettable show of comedy, balancing acts, juggling and acrobatics Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Avalon Theatre. Popovich grew up in Russia in the Moscow Circus where his parents worked with dogs - dogs who sometimes watched over the young Gregory."For me it's very natural to communicate with pets," said Popovich. "My dogs understand two languages. I speak to them in Russian, but when I adopted them (from shelters) they understood English.Popovich's cast of animals - all rescued from animal shelters in California, Oregon and Washington - include 12 dogs, 14 cats, two parrots, five pigeons, three geese and five white mice. The act also includes physical comedy, juggling and acrobats from the Moscow circus."It's a combination of human talent and pet talent; the audience decides who's the most talented by their applause," Popovich said. "Believe it or not, the pets always win."Popovich's animals are not forced to do things they do not want to do, he said."We don't push. Cats are very independent. I look for entertaining things animals like to do," Popovich said. And then, "we start practicing, 10 minutes a day. It's a delicate process. I'm just open to their personality, their natural habits. And then I bring it from the living room to the stage."His mission, he said, it to bring attention to homeless pets."This is my goal," Popovich said.The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater is based in Las Vegas, Nev., where together the humans and animals often perform at the Planet Hollywood Casino. Popovich and his pets have appeared on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show," "Late Night with David Letterman" and Animal Planet's "Who Let the Dogs Out."The act has won "Best Family Attraction" in Las Vegas, and also ended up in the final round of competition on the NBC television show "America's Got Talent."Occasionally, Popovich takes the act on tour, pulling a 36-foot custom trailer - air-conditioned and heated - with all the animals. In Las Vegas, the animals live with Popovich on his ranch, where the animals have separate buildings for their "rest and privacy" and have access to a swimming pool."I treat them like real show biz stars," Popovich said. The Pet Comedy Theater appeared in Grand Junction three years ago at the Avalon Theatre. This show, Popovich said, will include a lot of new acts, new talented pets. "It's a fresh show," he said.And, it's not just for kids, Popovich added. "It's for all ages. There are pet all-stars, variety, comedy. There will be laughs I guarantee," Popovich said. "It's going to be fun."

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The Post Independent Updated Jan 17, 2013 01:33PM Published Jan 17, 2013 01:29PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.