The Review: Westside Theatre/Upstairs’ Vitaly: An Evening of Wonders
To be upfront and honest, I don’t think I ever thought of myself as a magic show kind of person, although I’m not so sure now. Theatre is definitely more my thing, with entertainment shows, like magic shows being delegated to something further down the list under movies and concerts, but possibly above modern dance. Don’t ask me where opera fits in, because that I’m still trying to work out. Magic shows though, feel like things you do on a cruise ship or at a beach resort, but the other night I found myself sitting myself down at the Westside Theatre/Upstairs wondering how this evening of wonders would sit with me. And, much to my surprise, I was delighted by the energetic and charming Vitaly and his Evening of Wonders. It’s a thrilling and perplexing evening at the theatre as we watch with amazement at the things he can do while secretly trying to figure out how. I’m sure it’s what we all do, watch with full knowledge that magic is a showman word for trick, and we all think that if we pay close attention, we will figure it out.
I’m not sure this is possible though, as Vitaly is quite good at what he does. Now, I have very little to compare this to as this might be the one and only magic show that I have seen in my years of NYC theatre going, and with that piece of information in your head, I will also say it is the best magic show I have seen in ages. Joke aside, Vitaly Beckman is a very personable and charming illusionist, having started practicing the craft t the age of 14. Born in Belarus and raised in Israel, Vitaly has performed internationally in theaters, at corporate events and on Television, most notably on Penn & Teller’s hit show “Fool Us” where he did just that, fooling the Las Vegas superstars with a masterful trick utilizing cards and photographs. He seems to be able to bring photographs and drawings to life, making fruit fly, and erasing people from their very own driver’s licenses. He writes in his Playbill notes. “Not having mentors or the internet growing up, I relied on trial and error, which turned out to be a blessing in pursuit of originality….I left a career in engineering to devote my life to the creation of the impossible.” And in this mesmorizingly fun and straight-forward experience unlike any that I have ever seen, he does exactly what he sets out to do, “rebuild people’s childlike sense of wonder, bridging the gay between dreams and reality.” Go check it out, and be amazed. He didn’t turn water into wine, but he sure managed to turn a drawing of a rose into something real, beautiful, and vase-ready. I know I was flabbergasted and intrigued throughout, and my guest that night couldn’t stop trying to figure it all out just how he did that thing with the licenses, the bus, that torn card, and the photograph. Which is exactly how a magic show, I think, should leave you, desperate to figure out just how did he do that wondrous thing.