We have talked before about the power of social media on the musical theatre industry, you only need to look at the roaring success of Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical (which we reviewed at https://rhysreviews.com/2021/01/02/ratatouille-the-tiktok-musical-review/) to see how, if used correctly, video sharing platforms can be used social media can be an excellent tool which encourages collaboration between creatives! Those who have found themselves on the musical theatre side of Tik Tok will be aware of the icon that is Rob Madge who rose to fame during the global lockdowns by sharing old home footage of them staging Disney parades/shows in their home. These make-shift performances (often supported by their father) usually contained a musical number and hilarious mistakes but were always a spectacle to watch both for the family and those on Tik Tok! Earlier this year we were lucky enough to attend a performance of the Disney classic ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ (which you can read our full thoughts on at http://fairypoweredproductions.com/bedknobs-and-broomsticks-review-8/) where Robert played a plethora of roles including a wonderfully eccentric and camp fish who was hosting a magical dance competition. We were so honoured to be able to watch one of our favourite social media icons perform live (even in this relatively small role) but ‘My sons a queer’ is all about Rob!
Having been following Rob and their career for a little while now, we were overjoyed when it was announced that their original musical ‘my sons a queer: but what can you do’ would be getting a digital recording! The album opens with the beautifully performed song “anything is possible” which essentially outlines Rob’s rise to tik tok fame but explains how they used to put on shows for their family in the living room. They explain the journey of discovering the old VHS tapes that contained these parades and why they then shared them on social media which is something I personally have always wondered about! Seeing an adult look back on their childhood experiences is not only emotive but also sentimental for all those listening. As a child, I did not put on Disney parades or stage a Disney land in my garden but I did used to perform wrestling shows on my own on my trampoline! I used to feel so ashamed about how this used to bring me so much joy so to see Rob discuss how they also used to do something fairly similar was very personal and powerful for me. While the wrestling shows have stopped (although we are still big fans and we’re lucky enough to attend Wales’ first WWE PPV which you can you read about at https://rhysreviews.com/2022/09/04/wwe-clash-at-the-castle-experience-review/) I think everyone could all do with bringing some of that carelessness and fun we used to have when we were younger into our adult life and Rob seemed like the perfect person to promote that.
If you follow Rob’s social media then you will be familiar with the iconic yellow dress that is used to promote this one-person show. Not only is it clear that this dress is very important to Rob but also the message it portrayed is emotionally explained during the song titled “yellow dress.” The track explains how Rob does not agree with the concept of a gender binary and how rigidly we apply this to very young children (through the colour coding of blue for boys and pink for girls.) There is a lyric in this song which says “There is a whole spectrum where I found my happy place” which is an emotional nod to not only Rob’s own journey with gender but also attempt to dismantle the archaic ideas that boys shouldn’t wear, wear a dress, play with dolls etc. This song is then beautifully inverted during the emotionally powerful “pieces of my heart” where a young Rob is essentially forced to pack up all the things that once brought him so much joy (eg dresses, costumes, wigs etc) due to the feelings of shame. I couldn’t help but shed a tear during the excerpts “conversations with dad” which is an audio recording of Robert’s father explaining how he once tried to channel his son’s queerness through appropriate fancy dress. Rob’s father explains how seeing his son being free and joyful was a catalyst of encouraging dressing up but still within the confines of gender-appropriate outfits such as a beast costume from Beauty and the Beast. It is clear however that with time Rob’s father has realised that this was somewhat encouraging there could have been more he could have done! It’s is so important that we get to see a real-life acceptance journey taking place as many people think these simply happen overnight whereas it can often take years (especially for those of an older generation) to get to the desired place. These excerpts are so incredibly moving and emotionally driven that I anticipate the audience all wiping their eyes when performed live!
Overall, my sons a queer (but what can you do) is an incredibly moving and emotionally powerful recording that explores Rob journey to date in a way that everyone can relate to. Hearing real queer stories with honest and real interactions (especially those powerful audio recordings) are so important for those going through their own queer journeys while still trying to find moments to celebrate the childlike fun that as adults we often forget about! This would be a perfect opportunity to remind everyone that you can book tickets to see this show stage live at the Garrick theatre by following this link https://nimaxtheatres.com/shows/my-sons-a-queer/ and we are very excited to make the journey on Saturday! I would rate the album recording 5 out of 5 stars!