Allegiance – A New American Musical, a story about Japanese Internment Camps in 1940 will be coming to New York for three weeks for a developmental lab. The show, which had a limited run at the Old Globe theatre in San Diego, now has its eyes on Broadway.
Starring George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung, Allegiance takes place as a flashback, sixty years after World War II. Following the weeks after Pearl Harbor young Sam Kimura (Leung) continues to try to show his patriotism for his country, even after being moved from California into an internment camp, whereas his sister Keiko (Salonga) tries to resist the way they are being treated because of their heritage.
Told through the eyes of an older Sam Kimura (Takei), the audience is taken on a journey of a time in America’s history not often visited, especially not by those directly effected. The audience is able to see the wounds inflicted on Sam in his old age because of what he went through, even though as a teenager he only had pride for America.
The play was written by Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione after meeting with Takei coincidentally twice during a trip to New York. After Takei explained his father’s frustration, as well as Takei’s own memories of the internment camps in Arkansas, the plot of the musical was born. From there, Kuo, Thione, and Takei worked together to create the first Asian musical in a decade about a dark time by which many Asian Americans are unfortunately brought together.
Described as “sublime” (U-T San Diego), “moving and thought provoking” (North County Times), and also “educates and entertains” (Stage Scene LA), the musical hopefully will make it’s way into a Broadway theatre soon. For now, a “developmental lab” will be taking place. It has not been noted if this will be open to the public at all, or strictly for creative writers.
Though at first glance this show probably looks like a history lesson, and therefore a boring show, I have heard nothing but good things about it. I believe that the names in the show can balance out any reservations people have about seeing it, whereas other historical musicals such as Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Bonnie and Clyde fell short. Also, the sheer fact that it’s not recreation like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, nor is it a little too historically incorrect like Bonnie and Clyde may help it as well.
Knowing that show was written by someone who lived in an internment camp during World War II and not by a person’s perception from a book or movie is enough to make anyone want to listen to the story. While definitely a history lesson, this show is something Broadway will have never seen before, and I expect that it will be one that it will never forget.