Magic drives everything about Rob Lake. His passion – and career – are all about bringing entertaining illusions to as many people as possible.
His ambition started early. He decided his future after a family trip to see a magic show in Branson, Missouri, when the Norman native was 10 years old.
“It was like my full life’s path was laid out in front of me,” he says.
Young Lake went home and got every book on magic he could find at the library. He joined a magic class at school and began performing as often as he had the chance. He did shows for birthday parties, Rotary clubs, church and civic groups, school talent shows – anywhere he could find an audience.
“The stars and the opportunities all aligned,” he says. “I was going headfirst and consuming it all as much as I could.”
Now Lake travels all over the world and has performed on network television, in Times Square, on the Las Vegas Strip, in Atlantic City and before sold-out audiences in casinos, arenas and theaters worldwide. His touring show consists of four semitrailers of equipment and 20 people.
“We don’t travel light,” he says.
In 2008, Lake, then 25, received the coveted Merlin Award from the International Magicians Society. He describes it as the “Oscar of magic,” and at the time, he was the youngest magician ever to receive it. In 2018, he competed on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.
“I really wanted to showcase my illusions to millions of people,” he says of his motivation for auditioning for the show.
Another way that Lake displays his talent to the world is through work on the magical components of TV shows, movies and live theatrical productions. When the beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast needs to magically transform into a prince in midair, or when the Phantom of the Opera needs to vanish at the end of the show, Lake can help. He assists with hundreds of these performances, from Peter Pan and The Nutcracker to A Christmas Carol.
“When these magical plays have the need for magic, people will call me to create the special effects,” he says.
Lake is passionate about helping others. Each year he goes home to Norman to do a benefit show for animal rescue groups, in honor of his own rescue pup, Roger, who makes cameo appearances in Lake’s show. For the past 12 years, he’s also done an annual overseas tour to entertain U.S. troops and their families. They go to locations throughout Europe or the Pacific Ocean to large but isolated military bases and perform up to four shows a day.
“So we bring a little bit of America, a little bit of magic, to them,” he says. “Just seeing the wonder and the joy we can bring to their faces is worth it.”
The consummate magician, Lake shares his advice for any aspiring young performer.
“Follow your passion and follow your dreams,” he says. “You never know what’s going to happen.”