Rob Madge in the West End production of My Son's a Queer. Photo by Mark Senior. Madge
Rob Madge in the West End production of My Son's a Queer. Photo by Mark Senior. Madge

Rob Madge on My Son’s A Queer‘s Sequin-Studded Journey to Broadway

Get ready for a glittering extravaganza that’s set to dazzle the Broadway boards like never before! Social media sensation Rob Madge is gearing up to bring their hit sold-out work My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) to the Lyceum Theatre at the end of February. The solo show, which makes its way to New York via London’s West End, is Madge’s heartwarming, sequin-studded journey of self-discovery, with a little sprinkle of magic from Mary Poppins, Belle, and a cast of Disney darlings. Entertainment journalist for Spectrum News NY1 Frank DiLella recently checked in with Madge to talk their Broadway debut and much more.

Rob, the last time we spoke, I was in London and we thought Broadway was in your future, but it wasn’t confirmed. Now you’re on your way. How do you feel about making your Broadway debut?

It’s everything I ever dreamed of, as I’m sure so many performers will attest to. It’s the ultimate. It’s the pièce de résistance! Broadway has always been the lifelong dream and goal. Broadway and the city of New York have a whole different energy than what we have in London. There’s a whole new level of electricity that ripples through New York theatres. I saw Memphis on Broadway in 2010 — it was my first trip to New York City, and I’ve never experienced a reaction and an atmosphere quite like it in the theater. It was palpable. The intensity and the adrenaline between the audience and the performers were amazing. In Britain, we enjoy sitting back and listening, and we’re far more reserved.

People may not realize this, but you’re a theater kid. You grew up doing professional theater in London’s West End.

I started working in 2005 in Mary Poppins, and then went on to play a lot of precocious cockney urchins, in Les Misérables and Oliver!

Rob Madge in the West End production of My Son's a Queer. Photo by Mark Senior.
Rob Madge in the West End production of My Son’s a Queer. Photo by Mark Senior.

This is the little show that could, and is! It was very humble beginnings with this show … and things kept growing … and the audience kept growing and growing …

I wrote the show in COVID in 2020 because I was living back at home and found a lot of VHS tapes that I thought were funny. I wrote the show about my old VHS tapes, and we put it on Off–West End in June of 2021 to about 40 people a night. There were screens in between the seats and people still had to wear their masks. And there was reduced capacity to 50 percent because of the pandemic. And the first time I performed it to an audience of full capacity was a year later at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and that was the best feeling ever — getting to see a whole audience back together under one roof. And then we took it to the West End and did it twice in the West End. And it’s gotten bigger than anything I could have imagined.

It’s clear with this show that Disney and the Disney films had a major influence on your life.

 Disney taught me to always be myself and that anything can be possible if you put your mind to it. It was a way of expressing myself, by re-creating those movies and becoming those princesses. It got me creative and made me want to re-create Disneyland at home even though we couldn’t manage to get to Florida or Paris or California. It taught me that you can find that magic wherever you go, so I did it in my living room instead. It was my escape and sanctuary, watching those films.

What Disney character had the biggest influence on your life?

 Mary Poppins. It’s always Mary Poppins. She’s an icon. A legend. She’s the moment. And I love a character who’s illusive and funny and cheeky and can clean her bedroom with a snap of a finger.

So was that a dream come true when you got to play Michael Banks in the West End production of Mary Poppins?

Absolutely. That was my first-ever show. And they were very careful to not tell the kids how the magic worked when we were doing the show. So I still don’t know how the majority of those illusions in Mary Poppins worked. Every day was magical for me.

Rob Madge in the West End production of My Son's a Queer. Photo by Mark Senior.
Rob Madge in the West End production of My Son’s a Queer. Photo by Mark Senior.

Your show is a queer story that depicts a family who embraces their child’s queerness. That’s not always the case when it comes to families and acceptance.

Absolutely. “My son’s a queer but what can you do?” — not very much, just go along with it — is my family’s motto. I feel like there are not enough queer stories that show supportive families — for which there are many — and they deserve celebrating and the spotlight shown on them.

How did your family respond when they heard about your big Broadway transfer?

Mum burst into tears. Dad had to go to the pub for a stiff drink. They were elated! We all still can’t believe it. They will be there on opening night — and my mum has never been to New York before. So it’s going to be quite a trip for her.

What’s going to go through your mind when the curtain rises on your opening night?

I think I’m going to just be proud of my family. Proud of the journey the show’s had. And proud of little Rob, who was often told by people to do things differently and to maybe not wear the dress and to maybe consider auditioning for all the boy parts. I’ll be proud of the fact that I was always encouraged by my family to reject that. And to realize that your power lies in you being totally true to yourself.

Learn More About My Son’s a Queer (But what can you do?)