Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cats amaze, and other critters too, in Midland show

Review by Janet I. Martineau
MIDLAND -- Never thought I’d see the day when an ordinary orange “house” cat traversed a downsized set of parallel bars like an Olympic gymnast....let alone witness upwards of 15 domestic felines scamper across the Midland Center for the Arts stage.
But there it was on Friday night -- the sold out appearance of the Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre, which along with the cats also showcased around 10 canines, one green parrot, a couple of geese, three doves and a contingent of white rats which were herded into a toy train.
Oh, and the orange house cat also pushed a baby carriage containing a much larger dog.
For the legions of pet lovers, this is a show not to miss. And you know the old adage of never sharing a stage with an animal or a kid....well, that is the fate of Gregory Popovich and his small team of human circus performers. When they do an all-human circus or comedy routine, we want to scream, “We’re here to see the animals, not you!”
But we are too polite to do that, and somehow Russian-born Popovich knows that because even in the midst of one of the human acts, it is not unusual to see a black cat streak across the stage -- thus bringing bad luck.
The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater is both thrilling and a bit of a disappointment. Granted it is unusual in its animal focus and warms the heart when told the cats and dogs it in were rescued from shelters. But, well, we were hoping for a little more showmanship from the cats, even though we KNOW that is impossible given their royal attitudes.
Yes they scampered on and off the stage with wonderful obedience. And seeing 15 or 16 of them sitting on perches like the lions and tigers do in shows -- AND STAYING THERE  -- is a remarkable achievement on the part of Popovich. They also were athletic in the way they climbed up those perches or light poles, bobbed in and out of an “apartment” on fire, jumped hurdles, and climbed across a bar upside down. But other than that they did little else other than jump through a hoop or two, spar with each other now and then and just look cute.
The dogs, on the other hand, were much more versatile, compliant, costumed even and thus enjoyable. They fought a fire, visited a doctor with a variety of ills,  gave a school teacher behavior problems, played a game of soccer (with balloons) and caught balls while balancing high above Popovich’s head.
As for Popovich, he is a top-notch juggler, clown and balancing artist.
And you know, the more we think about it .... those cats, well actually they did far more than we thought possible. They were darn amazing, in fact. .

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