Illusionist Brings Paintings to Life
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Illusionist Brings Paintings to Life

Russian-Canadian illusionist Vitaly Beckman, with two shows in February, takes us out of the rabbit-in-the-hat realm with perception defying ticks.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Photos courtesy of Beckman // Vitaly Beckman has performed before Penn & Teller.
Photos courtesy of Beckman // Vitaly Beckman has performed before Penn & Teller.

The Marcus JCC starts out 2019 with an unusual, mystery-packed 90 minutes with Russian-Canadian illusionist Vitaly Beckman, featuring two shows the second weekend in February. A new era of “magic” takes us out of the rabbit-in-the-hat realm to an illusionist genre in this family-friendly show. Beckman defies perception as the interactive audience gets a bird’s eye view.

His shows are known for making drawings and paintings come to life and teleporting playing cards among audience members that are not simply jaw-dropping feats. He wants us to leave his show wondering what life could be without traditional limitations. Beckman has a magical outlook on life we find as we examine his past and current views before the upcoming show.

Jaffe: Describe your family’s journey from Russia to Israel to Canada?

Beckman: In 1990, the Soviet Union opened its borders for Jews … not to come in, but allowed us to get out. Thus, my parents left and repatriated to Israel. It was a secret trip through Europe to avoid terrorists attacking us on the way. My parents still live in Israel today while I moved to North America 10 years ago to pursue my dream of performing in Vegas and on Broadway.

Jaffe: You graduated as an engineer from the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology)?

Beckman: I graduated as a mechanical engineer, and unfortunately it doesn’t play into my act as much as I hoped. Although magic has the elements of invention and science, it is still more of a performance art. My studies at Technion were very theoretical. For instance, we learned how to solve a triple integral of a matrix. Go ahead and try to apply it to the real world!

Jaffe: How did you stump Penn & Teller?

Beckman: I always loved Penn & Teller and had the pleasure of showcasing one of my original acts where a photograph comes to life and a bus drives away from the photo. Penn & Teller deliberated for quite a bit and tried a few guesses, which turned out to be wrong, and I got a trophy with the letters F.U. which stands for “Fool Us,” of course.

Jaffe: You’ve had an off-Broadway show? What are some of the exciting venues in which you have performed?

Beckman: The Westside Theatre, where I appeared off-Broadway, was actually the very same venue at which Penn & Teller started their career over 30 years ago, so it was pretty cool! Another exciting venue I had the pleasure of performing at was in Chile, in a beautiful theater that was situated over a lake. It was very magical.

Beckman performs a magic trick with an apple.

Jaffe: Have you ever been to Georgia (our state, not Russia, LOL) and do you have any impressions about the South?

Beckman: I have only been to Atlanta for a few days for a conference a few years ago. My impression is of warm and hospitable people, but I hope to experience more when I visit next month.

Jaffe: What inspired you as a child to go into this field? Do you take inspiration from David Copperfield?

Beckman: When I was a kid, I used to paint and had a great appreciation for the arts. When I was 14, I was inspired by Copperfield. I decided to pursue magic because I realized it can be a form of expression for me, one where I could innovate and share my imagination with an audience.

Jaffe: Are there any Jewish elements in your life now?

Beckman: Well, I’m Jewish and while not religious, I’m very proud of my heritage.

Jaffe: Are you more like Borat or Jerry Seinfeld?

Beckman: They say I sound like Borat and look like Seinfeld. What do you think?

Jaffe: Ok, the ladies want to know… do you have a girlfriend and is she in your show?

Beckman: Yes, I do have a girlfriend (sorry!), but she is not in my show. I think she’s afraid to get sawed in half…

Beckman’s “Evening of Wonders” will be at 8 p.m. Feb. 9 and 5 p.m. Feb. 10. Tickets are $20 for MJCC members and $28 for the community. For tickets, www.atlantajcc.org or 678-812-4000.

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