There are dog people and there are cat people. And there are goose people. Wait. Can one Jorgensen audience be all that? It can when a new breed of circus performers hits town and takes the stage in the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater for two matinees today, Feb. 10, at Jorgensen.
A cast of 10 dogs, 15 cats and a small gaggle of geese have charmed animal lovers the world over with their circus antics at the behest of Moscow Circus great Gregory Popovich. Once in a Las Vegas show, he introduced the family cat into his act and the crowd roared its approval. So, he added a couple more. And more. When a friend suggested he visit the pound for willing extras, he struck circus animAl Gold and realized that real talent was going to waste. Now his show is not just a statement about high-level circus acrobatics and daredevil feats, but about animal rescue.
This show for all ages has been featured on Leno and Letterman and has been a finalist on "America's Got Talent." Anyone with a cat at home will marvel at Popovich's ability to herd a bunch of strays into a well-oiled act. His stars mimic a uniformed firefighting crew, ladders and all, play football, ride a train and pay tribute to Dr. Doolittle. And let's not forget the stunning contortions of the two-legged Moscow Circus acrobats in the cast; they are pros who deserve an award for allowing themselves to be constantly upstaged.
Gregory Popovich, the child of Russian circus performers, learned about the magic of trained animals when he worked with dogs in his mother's act. Popovich developed his own circus specialty, toured the world with the Moscow Circus and then enthralled crowds with his center-ring juggling act atop a free-standing ladder in the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus - the first Russian artist to appear in the "Greatest Show on Earth."
The matinees at Jorgensen will be preceded by pet-themed antics, games and face-painting for all ages. Performances of Popovich Comedy Pet Theater are sponsored by Bank of America.
Jorgensen was named Best College/University Performing Arts Center in the Hartford Advocate Best of Hartford Readers' Poll for 2012, and was recently named a Reader's Choice Winner by the Mansfield-Storrs Patch.
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $13 for children, with some discounts available. For tickets and information, call the Box Office at 860.486.4226, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., or order online at jorgensen.uconn.edu. Convenient, free parking is available across the street in the North Garage.
Photo courtesy of Popovich's official website and Brad Simon Organization.