Wednesday, 16 June 2021

COMING HOME: Rob Madge, about to open their solo show ‘My Son’s a Queer (But What Can I Do?)’ and will be appearing in Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Pocket Size Theatre and Liza Heinrichs (Captured by Liz) have teamed up again and created our new series 'Coming Home'. In this new piece, we look at the reopening of Theatres in London and around the country and celebrate our industry coming back. We got together some performers who will be some of the first to return to theatres and created this piece to bring some positivity to the theatre industry which has been through one of the toughest years in our lifetime. Whilst it is important to acknowledge the hardships we've all gone through, it's important we pull together as a community and celebrate our beloved industry finally coming back! 

Before the pandemic, a lot of us didn’t have a clue what TikTok even was. Now, whilst some people have managed not to get the TikTok bug, for some, it's actually brought them a lot of joy throughout this really difficult time. Someone who has absolutely catapulted in this social media world is Rob Madge, perhaps a name you might not have heard before 2020 - but if you own any social media accounts and are stagey, you will definitely know who they are! 

On TikTok, Rob now has over 90,000 followers and over 3 million likes! With videos varying from their childhood productions put on in the living room to the out of time Glinda, these videos have provided so much entertainment to people through this tough time. Rob is also such a wonderful role model for all those across our industry, identifying as non-binary Rob has spread not only laughs across the internet with their comedy, but also a message to live as your authentic self. We spoke about this and Rob reflects on how it actually was quite intimidating, “being known for working in musical theatre as a ‘boy’ was a hugely daunting experience and I hope that one day this won’t be such a trepidatious concept for others. This industry needs to be our sanctuary, a place where all identities can be embraced. It’s an exciting time for theatre if people are willing to open their eyes to the possibilities of what we can all bring to the table in our own individual way.” 

Before theatres closed back in March 2020, Rob was appearing in the UK and the international touring cast of Les Miserables, a show they had previously been in as a child. They appeared as Gavroche on the international tour back in 2010 and also played the role in the 25th Anniversary concert at the O2 alongside stars such as Lea Salonga, Nick Jonas, Samantha Barks, Ramin Karimloo, Hadley Fraser, Norm Lewis and Alfie Boe. In fact, Rob had already appeared in four of the biggest West End shows before even getting to drama school! As a child, they played Michael Banks in Mary Poppins, the Artful Dodger in Oliver! and appeared in the original Stratford-Upon-Avon cast of Matilda. 

It's clear Rob has a huge passion and love for the arts and they miss it dearly. We spoke about what they’ll look forward to the most when they get back in front of an audience and Rob spoke of the “collective experience of community that you can only get with live theatre”. And we couldn’t agree with more. “The relationship between audience and performer, experiencing something together for a moment in a time that simply cannot be captured anywhere else. It’s a weirdly personal thing, like a secret club, and I’ve missed it a lot.” 

Even though Rob misses the industry and performing, we can’t ignore some of the injustices that have been raised through the past year. Speaking about this, Rob says that “We need to continue to listen to and uplift all marginalised voices within our industry, as well as ensure that these voices have space to tell their own stories and thrive. This past year has given everyone much needed time to reflect and we don’t have time to go backwards.” 

It’s recently been announced that Rob will be appearing in the new stage production of Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks which will be touring the UK from the 14th August 2021, opening at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. But before this, Rob makes their professional writing debut with ‘My Son’s a Queer (But What Can I Do?)’ at the Turbine Theatre. They’ll be starring in the show as well with direction from Luke Sheppard which runs from the 17th June to the 3rd July 2021. Rob tells us that this has been a childhood dream and this has been inspired from delving into old home videos, some of which you can watch across their social media! 

One thing we wanted to ask Rob was what advice they would give to someone now that we’re all slowly coming out of the other side of this, Rob said “It’s been a long tunnel. Make sure you go easy on yourself as we move forward and be proud of all you have and will continue to achieve, even in the face of a bloody global pandemic! If I could tell myself one thing, it’s that one day, all the things that you used to think made you weird and strange and odd, will eventually be things that you are celebrated for. So take pride in your glorious uniqueness! Wear those wigs, throw on that Ariel costume, celebrate yourself! Other people will at some point so you may as well get on board early on.” 

We cannot wait to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks come to life on stage, a childhood favourite for Rob and we cannot wait to see them live their dream live on stage. Be sure to check out ‘My Son’s a Queer (But What Can I Do?)’ at the Turbine Theatre as well. With some shows already sold out and the rest limited availability, you should get your tickets sooner rather than later! 

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