Squeals of laughter and applause filled the Reichhold Center for the Arts Friday as more than 500 area grade school students from St. Thomas and St. John were treated to a morning of clowns, slapstick and pantomime.
The students were welcomed by V.I. Council for the Arts program director Cecilia Ketch and Reichhold marketing manager Karen Gutloff for a two-hour “sneak peak" of the next show in the Reichhold Center’s family series. “The Physical Comedy of Aga-Boom” can be seen Saturday evening at 7 p.m.
The Aga-Boom performers, dressed in full costume and makeup, delighted students with oversize balloons, sight gags, pratfalls and endless amounts of confetti in skits that included participation by eager students.
In between skits, Aga-Boom founder Dmitri Bogatirev and his wife Irina Ivanytaska led the audience through simple pantomime exercises while deftly illustrating the comedic use of sound effects. The performers are silent while in character, and rely on off stage sound ‘performers’ for sound effects and musical interludes.
Veterans of Cirque du Soleil and the Russian state circus, the cast of three are professional clowns who have taken the Aga-Boom (a play on the Russian word for “paper”) troupe around the world, performing in Japan, Russia, Korea and most recently Mexico.
“I always dreamt of running away to the circus from an early age growing up in Russia, and I did just that,” said Bogatirev, who performs under the stage name Aga. “Laughter is universal.”
The Aga-Boom family of performers has entertained foreign princes, heads of state and scores of U.S. military families in their travels. “Ours is a show for the whole family. Like cake, everyone loves a clown,” Bogatirev said.
This is the troupe’s first visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands. For students from Weslyan Academy, Seventh Day Adventist, Leonard Dober, Gladys Abraham, Gifft Hill, Ulla Mueller, Lockhart, Yvone Bowsky, All Saints, Sts Peter & Paul and the College Prep Learning Center schools, it was a visit to remember — and smile.