SURREY — When Vitaly Beckman called the Now from somewhere in Israel, he sounded excited to bring his illusions to a venue in Surrey.
“It’s a one-off show I’m doing there, and I’ve actually never performed a show open to the public, a ticketed show, in Surrey,” Beckman enthused.
Vitaly, as he’s known on theatre marquees and posters, is set to do his “An Evening of Wonders” show at Centre Stage, the 200-seat venue at Surrey City Hall, on Saturday, Feb. 20.
The production, billed as “family-friendly, mind-bending magic,” features the Belarus-born, Burnaby-based illusionist in a show geared for audiences over the age of eight.
“I do have slightly younger people coming to see my shows, maybe six or seven year olds,” he explained, “but I find that because this is not strictly a show comprised strictly of visuals, I tell stories as well, and I find that five-year-olds just don’t have enough patience for it. And also because the show is two hours long, including a 20-minute intermission, it’s a bit of a long show for kids under five or six.”
Inspired by the theatrics of American illusionist David Copperfield, Beckman at age 14 began wowing friends and family with his magic tricks. Later, he left behind a career in engineering to pursue his dream of being on stage. He moved to B.C. in 2008 and soon earned a following locally and abroad.
“There is a bit of engineering in what I do on stage, yes,” Beckman noted, “but that job, it was a proper one, you know, that was encouraged by my parents, but in reality it was something I never wanted to do. I have the degree but it’s not something I enjoyed, because I wanted to create art, and magic to me is the highest form of art, because it can evoke such a sense of wonder.”
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In magic, he says, there are elements of theatre and storytelling, and also comedy, visual art and music.
“What I do incorporates all of those artistic elements. Magic is something I’ve always been good at, and I create all the illusions in my show.”
Some of his tricks are years in the making. One of his new illusions involves a floating apple. Another sees ink move on a printed page.
“If it takes about two minutes to do on stage, it has taken me about a year to create,” Beckman explained.
“Because it takes so much time, and I’m a perfectionist, it’s very hard to create a lot of new illusions every year.
“For this show (in Surrey),” he teased, “I was hoping to add something new, but I don’t think I’ll have time, and this is one I’ve been working on for years. It’s almost time to show it to people.”
Post-show, he likes to meet and greet members of the audience.
“Some people come back to see the show many times – like, 10 or 12 times, so it’s great to always see those people,” he said. “Another reason I need to meet people after the show is because during the show, I borrow their drivers’s license, and I erase their faces from the license. I need to give those back.”
Tickets for Vitaly’s show at Centre Stage range from $23 to 28, including all fees, at the box office (604-501-5566, Tickets.surrey.ca). Show details are online at Eveningofwonders.com.