Steve and Eydie may have been just as labor-intensive with the hair and makeup, but they never jumped rope while bouncing on the inner tubes of truck tires.
Dimitri Bogatirev and Iryna Ivanytska are a less famous showbiz couple, and their clown feet are taking the smallest of baby steps on their own road to Las Vegas stardom. The married duo is two-thirds of “Aga-Boom,” a European-styled clown show that offers a scant but charmingly offbeat diversion for a family on a hot summer day.
To call an iconic clown of the greasepaint and red nose variety “offbeat” indicates how far clowns have fallen, to movie serial killers or birthday party substitutes when a Shrek mascot isn’t available.
But youngsters at this afternoon show in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood weren’t so prejudiced. They laughed consistently as their parents gradually warmed to the charms of the Ukranian couple and their Russian partner Val Slemzin, who rehabilitate clowning with wit that’s subtle as well as slapstick.
No wonder, since Ivanytska’s facial expressions are that of the universal kid in the prolonged tease of an opening. She taunts the crowd as much as a “Do Not Touch” button torments her.
When the darn thing finally gets pushed, the result is telling. It doesn’t set off anything from the ACME Dynamite Factory, but instead summons the arrival of Slemzin as an astronaut and a big clue that most of the hour won’t be a live cartoon.
The amount of mileage that Ivanytska can get from a vacuum cleaner makes us appreciate mime and silent comedy in a way we may have forgotten. When Bogatirev cradles a mop head, it becomes a baby. When Ivanytska reclaims it from an audience member, we’re almost surprised to see it revert to a mop head.
Two audience members are recruited — and at this matinee they needed little encouragement — to take part in the “filming” of a silent movie that just might be referencing “War and Peace,” given the Russian ancestry of the show.
It’s all done with a few simple prop pieces until the finale, which becomes a sort of Blue Man on a budget when the room erupts with flying paper, confetti and balls of all sizes and varieties. The quirky score by Bogatirev’s brother Vasily kicks into a ska-flavored anthem as everyone gets in on the action.
The fact that it’s all over so quickly is a testament to the entertainment value, but also a sign that growth would be good if “Aga-Boom” aims for a future beyond this limited run (scheduled to end Aug. 12). This edition has been downsized by about 20 minutes and, so far, leaves out a contortionist and child clown who have been onboard in the past.
Ticket prices in magician Steve Wyrick’s theater wisely undercut a neighboring show from the same realm of Russian circus — the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater — by $10. A smart move and a fair one, given that the Popovich show at the V Theater offers more variety and trained cats to boot.
Factor in magician Nathan Burton, also at the V Theater, and the three-way battle for the afternoon ticket dollar at the Miracle Mile may become a hard-fought scrap for the performers. But it’s a win-win for vacationing families, who have convenient one-stop shopping without having to step out from the fake painted sky to the real outdoors.MIKE WEATHERFORDMORE COLUMNS
when: 2 p.m. Saturdays-Thursdays
where: Steve Wyrick Theatre at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. South
tickets: $30.45-$36.45 (777-9974)