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Modern-day Merlin Rob Lake comes to Carteret on July 9th

By Bob Makin

originally published: 06/13/2022

Modern-day Merlin Rob Lake comes to Carteret on July 9th

Internationally acclaimed illusionist will be bringing his dazzling act on July to URSB Carteret Performing Arts & Events Center. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROB LAKE

One of the world’s most celebrated illusionists, Rob Lake’s mind-blowing act dazzles and entertains millions across network television, in Times Square, on the Vegas strip, Atlantic City, Atlantis Bahamas, and before sold-out audiences in casinos, arenas, and theaters worldwide. On July 9, he comes to URSB Carteret Performing Arts & Events Center. Make sure you get tickets for that 8 p.m. show here. And find out more about him in the following interview, as well as at

Did ‘America’s Got Talent’ bring you a larger audience and make you more money or where you already established when you appeared on that show in 2018, having been the youngest person at age 25 to win the Merlin Award in 2008?

Here’s a little secret: I hardly ever get to watch TV. I travel most of the time, and when I do one or two shows every night, catching up on TV isn’t as much of an option as I wish it was, when I don’t have enough time to catch up on work. I say this because I really underestimated the reach of ‘AGT.’ I went on the show, thinking I would do one illusion, get a million YouTube views, a few more followers, then go on with my life. When I walked out on that stage, it hit me: This is a big show. They had nearly 300 crew members working on the production. And I ended up getting 70 or 80 million YouTube views.  

While my schedule before the pandemic hit didn’t really change -- I was booked solid before and after -- but with millions of views all over the world, it sure helped with marketing! Definitely more people are excited to see me live having seen me in their living rooms.

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How has your show evolved during the past four years? 

My show has always been theatrical. It travels in several semi-trucks due to the size of the illusions and all of the scenery and lighting we bring in. The last four years have seen several original, and new illusions become part of my show. These are things that I had been working on for years -- sometimes decades. The silver lining of the pandemic is when all of my live shows were cancelled, I was able to have dedicated time to focus on these new illusions -- and to begin the process on more new illusions.   

What new illusions have you developed that you’re going to share on July 9 in Carteret?

Logistics determines a lot of what can be done in certain theaters, and what cannot. Backstage space, height, even the size of the load-in door all determine each show we do. I always push the limits. Backstage becomes like Tetris for my crew. I try to fit as many illusions in every show, limited only by the performance time and backstage space. The good thing is I have so many illusions, so I always make a great combination of audience favorites, like what they saw me do on ‘AGT’ or ‘Good Morning America,’ with some new things that have barely been seen so far. Keeping with the rules of magic: A magician never reveals his secrets. What specifically I’ll be performing is part of the mystery.


What 2022 event are you looking forward to appearing at most and why?

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The fact that I get to perform LIVE again is so exciting! After nothing happening for more than two years, it is great to be back onstage with live audiences in person. I also have 15 or more years performing for the military, bringing magic and a bit of home to troops and their families overseas. I’m really looking forward to this resuming.

In addition to my own shows, I am currently designing the illusions and special effects for six upcoming Broadway shows. Some of these are launching soon, and I’m having a lot of fun creating magic in this way. 


As a magic consultant for stage and screen, what’s coming up that people will be able to see and where? 

Several Broadway shows, a big concert, some theme park attractions, but unfortunately, I cannot talk about any of this right now! Magicians are not the only ones that like to keep secrets. 


What and/or who inspired you to become illusionist?

My heroes growing up were people like Walt Disney, Jim Henson, Steven Spielberg. To me, they are great wizards, and I’m inspired by the wonder and enchantment they create, and still provide to this day. When I was 10, I saw my first magic show and knew immediately this would be my genre, my path. The magician I saw, Kirby VanBurch, later became my mentor and dear friend. He’s retired now, but we still keep in touch regularly.


How did you learn to become an illusionist?

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Books. As a kid I got every book available on magic from the library (pre-Internet). I would drive my friends, family, teachers, neighbors, everyone crazy with tricks. I started to do small shows, like birthday parties or church groups, but would save up my money and buy a larger trick. Incrementally, over my youth and teen years, I built up a show. I continued that format when I was older. I did as many shows as I could and would keep reinvesting into larger or cooler illusions.  


What influence did growing up in Oklahoma have on your becoming an illusionist?

Shockingly, Oklahoma is not a magic or entertainment mecca. I had an amazing local magician that helped mentor and help me, but a lot of growing up, isolated in Oklahoma, taught me how to be resourceful and persistent. I had to create my own path and goals.  

Modern-day Merlin Rob Lake comes to Carteret on July 9th

Rob’s act always is fresh because he constantly is working on new illusions. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROB LAKE


What do you like most about your job and why?

I get to create wonder and enchantment. I get to do the impossible. I get to provide inspiration and magic to people all over the world. I get to live my dreams. As a kid, every night in bed I would dream of one day doing what I am doing right now. I’m so grateful and happy that I’m able to follow my dreams.


About how many events do you do per year?

Hundreds. It varies year to year, but before the pandemic hit, I was on the road performing about 90 percent of the year. It’s starting to pick up back to this.


What is the difference between illusion and magic, illusionist and magician, or are they the same thing?

Magic is the broader larger category, illusion is a specialty. Illusion is the genre of magic that is large scale: magic with people, large objects, large stage productions. I use magic and illusion interchangeably. 


Do you teach illusions to others? 

I had such great support from mentors that I always try to give back. I share time and ideas with promising younger magicians. While I don’t divulge secrets, I offer support and guidance that helps them learn and grow. Help in ways I was helped, and in ways I wish I had been looking back.  


How do you think your show and the magic industry in general will evolve during the next few years?

I think now more than ever we need wonder. We need an escape, and a return to that feeling that anything can be possible.  

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People are so much more skeptical and jaded now. Yet, we have yearnings for collective experiences, like sitting together in a theater, experiencing wonder and entertainment live onstage. The demand is large for this, and for something the entire family may experience and enjoy together.  


What illusion would you like to do that you still need to perfect before presenting it live?

The problem is I am always thinking of new illusions, how to revise and revisit my older illusions, and how to bring magic to audiences in different ways. It can take many years to develop a new illusion, so I always have a few in all various stages: ideas, blueprints, models, mock-ups and workshop tests, and even some in final rehearsals. I think as long as I’m alive I will always be working on new illusions.


What assistants will you be working with on July 9 in Carteret, and how did they come to work for you? 

I have an amazing team. Many of my assistants have been with me for five or 10 years. It’s like a magical family. Most of the assistants and dancers came from open calls in New York City. My technical and illusion crew has come from places all over. I’m really lucky to have such a strong team that helps bring my dreams and magic to life.

Modern-day Merlin Rob Lake comes to Carteret on July 9th

Roger, Rob’s rescue dog, often performs with him. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROB LAKE


Will Roger, your rescue dog, be appearing in Carteret?

He might! Even on short trips, I miss having my little rescue dog. But he is an older dog, a rescue, and I always put his needs first. He loves adventure, living in hotels, traveling in cars and busses, and hanging out backstage. I think he believes the audience comes to see him.  

For every show, I look at the schedule, my travel, flights, and I make sure it is something he will enjoy and love, and get play time. I never bring him if I think he can be stressed or worn out.


Bob Makin has produced Makin Waves since 1988. Follow Makin Waves on Facebook and contact Bob at



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