Vitaly: An Evening of Wonders, Saturday, March 23, 7 p.m. at Presentation House Theatre. Tickets $22 at phtheatre.org.
SKEPTICS would have us believe magic isn't real. That it's merely a grand spectacle of sneak and illusion, showmanship and creativity, and a fast pair of hands. It's like a ninja, but with more pizzazz.
Well, perhaps magic isn't real. But following this illusionist's work, those in attendance who play along won't be able to legally drive home.
That's real. No, audience members aren't getting drunk for this trick. But this master of illusion will take a driver's licence, any licence, remove the face and place any other face one desires in its place.
It's an illusion that took years, from inception to realization, for Vitaly Beckman to create and master, and it's just one of many original concoctions he is bringing to the North Shore on Saturday, March 23 with his show entitled "An Evening of Wonders."
"If you're not happy with your driver's licence photo, bring it to the show and I will literally remove people's faces and I will then exchange their faces," he said.
"They can take it home if they like the new picture. I hope not to get in trouble with the RCMP."
As slick and sneaky as Edward Norton in The Illusionist and fairly less insane than Hugh Jackman in The Prestige, Beckman aims to astonish North Shore residents with his utterly original illusions, just as he's tried to do since his quest in magic first began 17 years ago.
The Belarus-born illusionist began his career at the age of 14 when the aspiring artist put down the paintbrush and picked up a wand - metaphorically, of course.
"When I was a teenager I watched quite a lot of magicians on television," Beckman says, explaining his fascination with the craft. "One of them was David Copperfield. Penn and Teller, Siegfried and Roy, I watched really a lot of magicians."
These world-famous acts inspired Beckman to not only take a crack at magic and illusions, but pushed his firm belief that whatever you create should be original. And if you do it, go for the gusto.
"My magic isn't just the type of magic that happens on stage, it happens in the entire theatre," Beckman said. "Objects will teleport from one audience member to another audience member's hands. I want them to immerse in the magic."
Magic is more to Beckman than a good time. It's a way of perceiving life a little differently, and capturing the feeling of wonder and curiosity we all had as children.
"I encourage the audience in the show to use our imaginations as I think that's the key to finding real magic in our lives," he said. "If we have any kind of problem, I try to look more within."
This is the third time Beckman will be performing in North Vancouver's Presentation House. He has performed internationally for people of all ages, and he won't stop until he's restored the once jaw-dropping wonder the magicians of old inspired.
Yet he knows he can't just pull a rabbit out of a black top hat or pretend to slowly and painfully saw someone in half. Keen-eyed audience members are getting crafty and skeptical and jump at the chance to call out any half-hearted attempts.
This is why Beckman will spend years creating and perfecting an illusion to the point where even the most skeptical observer will have trouble coming up with an answer.
"I really look within my own imagination and try and get inspired," Beckman said. "It can be a year or two before I figure out how to execute an idea, then a couple of years after that performing and perfecting it for audiences."
His belief is dreams can become reality. He dreams of a paintbrush that paints by itself, or creating drawings that come to life before the audience. And he wants you to jump inside his head and come along for the ride.
"It's about the feeling of becoming a child again," he said. "As kids we notice that we haven't seen this before, it looks wondrous. When we grow older . life becomes like a routine and we notice less and we don't pay attention to the beauty that's everywhere around us. When we watch magic it sharpens our senses, it reminds us of those sensations and life becomes less of a routine after that, hopefully."