Where are you from?
We were born in Kiev, Ukraine. In 1991, we were selected to attend the Russian States Academy of Theatrical Art. Back then in the Soviet Union, representatives from Moscow would search for the best in the arts and send them to the capital for training and education. After graduating we travelled the world competing and performing. We won awards at the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo – the ‘Oscars’ for circus artists. Our work took us to Broadway, Las Vegas, to the Cirque du Soleil – in total 162 countries. In 2002 we were granted citizenship in Australia under the category of ‘distinguished talent’ in the arts.
When did you move to Phuket?
We first came to Phuket nearly two years ago to investigate the possibility of opening a Palazzo theatre here. We thought Phuket would be a good place for family entertainment so we came and spent one year learning the market. We’d never been to Phuket before.
Tell us something about your business, Palazzo.
Palazzo is a dinner show. This type of entertainment has been popular in Europe for 20 years. At Palazzo there’s no separation between the audience and the actors. There's no stage – the maître d' is an actor, the waitresses are actors, the audience is part of the show. The dinner is part of the show. The audience can see the backstage life: the waitresses fighting, a heartsick electrician, the crazy chef. It’s like being inside the screen, like 5D entertainment.
Can you tell us about any new developments in your business?
This is our second season, and so far we’ve had very good comments from guests. We aim to have the best entertainment, the best food and the best service. We’re sure that we have the best entertainment and best performers in Phuket, 14 of whom are highly trained professionals brought in from overseas.
In December, we’re creating an authentic Christmas atmosphere for guests to enjoy. Though people come to Phuket for the beach, in the evenings they want to dress up and go out. People who come to Palazzo this month will experience a real European Christmas with a touch of Asia.
For people who live and work in Phuket, we have a great offer with a loyalty programme and special prices. We’ve also added lunch service this year as a place for people on city tours to stop and enjoy an entertaining meal. It’s a real chill-out atmosphere and a lot of fun.
How does working in Phuket compare to back home?
In Thailand there are so many hidden rules, especially those relating to foreigners, unlike in Europe, where the process, the costs, etc are clear. And after starting a business there are many new questions and unexpected difficulties that arise. In hiring local artists, we have invited some but we still haven’t found enough that meet the quality we demand for our show. We hope to help develop more quality artists here.
Whereabouts do you live in Phuket? What determined your choice of location?
We have a nice big house in Kathu, near the Palazzo theatre. We love the beach and our first house was in Bang Tao, but it was easier to live close by the theatre since we spend long days here.
Do you own your house or do you rent?
We’re renting. We have a property on the Gold Coast in Australia so we don’t need to buy one here.
What kind of car do you drive?
Vlad: I drive a Yamaha Dragstar – a big, loud and stylish bike. I love to ride and sometimes we take it out to viewpoints around the island. For work, we have a company rental car, which we seem to have to change every month because I’m always getting into accidents!
What are your favourite places to go in Phuket?
We stay away from the tourist destinations. We like to go to the quiet beaches in the north, and enjoy windsurfing and snorkelling. We have a favourite spot near the beach in Kamala for pizza; a place owned by a Frenchman. The greatest pizza we’ve ever had.
Do you have family here?
We’ve been married for 21 years and have twins, a boy and a girl, aged nine. They study at the Kajonkiet International School, which we think it will give them the education they need for going back to Australia. We want them to go to university and have a normal life. While we won't push them in any direction I hope they don’t want to be an artist. It’s a difficult life!
How do you evaluate success?
There are three types of success. First, as an artist you’re successful if you’re seen on TV and become well known. We've had this before. Second, in doing production, we don’t care about being on TV, it’s more about having a quality reputation for service and the show. Third is family, to combine our artistic and creative life with our business and family. Phuket gave us this opportunity to have a nice life with our family.
Are you involved in any other local projects or charities?
About once a month we provide a free show for a local government department or community event, and we recently did a special show for the Phuket International Women’s Club. We’ve also set up a youth activity centre, a ‘circus school’, at the theatre where kids of all nationalities can come after school for training in drama, music, acrobatics and dance. It’s a great chance for Phuket children to learn from our world-class artists.
For further information about Palazzo Phuket Theatre
Tel: +66 (0)76 202277