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Jake Lundgren, an OU alum, performs for a sold-out show at P3 Magic Theater in Columbus. Photo provided.

OU alum has ‘got the magic in him’

Magic and magic shows have been a common form of entertainment for centuries. Whether the goal of the show is to horrify, surprise or amuse, the overarching purpose is for the attendees to leave with a sense of awe.

That is the goal of magician Jake Lundgren. Lundgren is a recent graduate of Ohio University, receiving a degree in integrated social studies education in May 2022.

Now, a teacher at Northeastern High School in Springfield, Lundgren spends his days teaching his students about checks and balances and civil liberties. When he is not teaching or participating in the many school organizations he is a part of, chances are he is either preparing for or performing a magic show.

Lundgren said he began to get into magic when he was in eighth grade and has remained passionate about it ever since. Inspired by a local magician, he said practicing magic helped him in other aspects of his life.

“I really think magic has so many other areas that can carry into your life,” he said. “For example, I was really shy, and with magic being a performance art, it forces you to get out there and engage and perform. We all grow when we’re uncomfortable and magic was this area where I was like, ‘I’m really uncomfortable, but I have this hobby.’”

Originally from Pickerington, Lundgren said it was an asset being close to Columbus, a hub for magic. The city is hosting the annual Magifest Jan. 25-27, where performers from all over the world come to teach, lecture and entertain. 

This year will be Lundgren’s tenth year attending the convention, working as the stage manager. He said he got involved with the event as a teenager when he was unable to afford a ticket and reached out to the organizer to offer to work in exchange for the registration fee. Lundgren’s ambition was rewarded, with that original offer going strong for a decade.

“It has been such a rewarding experience and such a great way to make connections,” he said.

Another member of the robust magic scene, the P3 Magic Theater, holds a special spot in Lundgren’s career. He grew up attending the weekly shows put on by a wide range of magicians at the Columbus venue, many of them from other parts of the world. In a full circle moment, Lundgren headlined two sold-out shows at the theater earlier this month. 

“It really hit home,” he said.

Lundgren said his mission as a magician is to help perpetuate a positive association with magic shows and one that keeps viewers coming back.

“Most people see one, two, maybe three magic shows in their life,” he said. “So if you watch one bad magic show, you go, ‘Well, magic sucks.’ Whereas if you see a bad concert, you’re like, ‘Well, I don’t care for that artist.’ Because it’s such a small group, it’s so easy for us to get turned off by what magic and magicians can be. I think it’s our job to teach people how to appreciate magic.”

Regarding combining his two passions of teaching and magic, Lundgren said the two are not mutually exclusive. He said he is always using skills he has developed as a magician in the classroom. 

“Teaching and magic go so hand in hand because teaching is a performance art,” he said. 

He also said he likes to think of his class as a show because the best learning happens when the students are engaged.

“In order to create good information, there has to be a degree of entertainment happening,” he said. “I got into education because it’s as much fun as I make it. If we show up every day and the buy-in is ‘we’re going to have so much fun today,’ not only does it make it a better experience for me but for the kids too.”

As for his future career plans, Lundgren said he is hopeful to keep performing but does not have a desire to abandon his role as a teacher. 

“I love magic, but I think, ‘if I have to purchase my food by doing shows, how much longer does this become this joyous thing?’” he said, laughing. 

Lundgren, like many performers, said his main goal is to make sure the audience walks away with a fun memory. 

“Magic is the only type of performance art where you need the audience,” he said. “You can play a beautiful symphony in your bedroom, you can paint the most beautiful masterpiece in a studio but magic can't happen unless someone else is perceiving it.”


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