Russian matrioshka are brightly painted wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each progressively smaller, to the size of a fingernail, or tinier. "Russian Matrioshka" is also the name of a vaudeville show coming Sunday to La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.
The show is performed by a trio of entertainers known as the Troyans--Katy, Slav and their son, Tim. Katy Troyan said there are several reasons for the show's name.
"I bring matrioshka on the stage," Katy Troyan said. "A lot of children don't know what they are, and it's a wonderful part of the show. Sometimes, you know, you can have a book of little stories, and the book takes the name from the one story. The dolls are also like a little family, and we are a family. They are a symbol of Russia, and we are Russian.
" 'Brown Bag Moscow Circus,' that was our (show) name before. That was a good name too, because we are carrying a big circus in a little bag."
Slav Troyan, 43, offers mime, comedy and juggling. Katy Troyan, 41, portrays Tic Toc the clown. Tim Troyan, 23, is a juggler and acrobat. The show also includes music, dance, song and magic. The troupe performs 90 shows a year, mostly in California.
The family left its homeland almost five years ago. As might be expected, that meant starting over in many ways.
"We had our own TV show in Moscow, 'Good Night, Kiddies,' " Katy Troyan said. "We were celebrities there. Even here, people recognize us, but when they do, I know that they have just come here. It is still on the air in Moscow.
"We wanted to talk about residuals, but knowing Russia--we were born there, we know it--they would then cut off everything, and the children there would not have anything anymore. So now we do it for American children. They need this."
Katy Troyan said the act is reminiscent of classic silent-film comedies. She said the show was once described as "the Three Stooges and Charlie Chaplin with magic and clowning thrown in." But she also said that it's comedy with a message, with skits geared to teach morals and good behavior.
"Children are children everywhere," she said. "They deserve to see something wonderful and funny. (But) there's so much violence in this big world. Young people also need to be exposed to messages that are positive."
Children may be children everywhere, but that doesn't mean their responses to the show are the same.
"The Russian children love the talking, the American children like more the slapstick," Katy Troyan said.
* What: The Troyans, "Russian Matrioshka."
* When: Sunday, March 26, at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
* Where: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada.
* Whereabouts: Take the Santa Ana (5) Freeway to the Beach Boulevard exit and head north. Turn left on La Mirada Boulevard.
* Wherewithal: $8.
* Where to call: (714) 994-6310.