George Takei’s passion project, and historically important musical, Allegiance is getting a one night Cineplex Event.
Inspired by Takei’s own experiences during World War II, the story, featuring music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and book by Kou, Mark Acito and Lorenzo Thione, follows the Kimura family in America after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
The family, Sam (Telly Leung), Kei (the beautifully voiced Lea Salonga), their father, Tatsuo (Christopheren Namura) and their grandfather (Takei) are put, along with all of the 120,000 Japanese Americans in the country at the time of the War, into internment camps. Simply because they ‘looked’ like the enemy.
These people lost everything, their homes, business, all of it stolen from them by neighbours and the government that they trusted and believed in. It’s infuriating that any ruling body would do such a thing to its own citizens, all because they ‘looked’ like the enemy.
One of the characters, rightly points out that America is also at war with Italy, but they weren’t locking up Joe DiMaggio.
Locked away because of decisions based on fear and hate, these people, most of whom were American-born, were treated like criminals, housed in dilapidated shacks that didn’t keep out the elements, fed poorly, given no medicines, and no hope, but for that which they have and create themselves.
This story, has been glossed over and buried by those who write history, and where we are now, with fear and racism seeming to be the currency of those who would have power – it’s important to have learned from the behaviour of the past so that we don’t repeat it.
Leung and Salonga are fantastic in their roles, showing the divisions that can occur in a family thrust into an extraordinarily trying circumstances, and both working to do what they they think is right.
They both find companions in their internment, Sam finds a lovely nurse, Hannah (Katie Rose Clarke), and Kei finds Frankie (Micheal K. Lee). Frankie and Kei resist the oppression and manipulation they are confronted with by the American government, standing up for what they believe is right.
Sam, meanwhile, believes that if he can prove his loyalty to his nation, that they will let his family, and the others go. So, he fights to enlist.
It’s an incredibly powerful, and emotional story. The leads, and supporting cast are top form, bringing a deliberately forgotten piece of history into the stage lights.
The production, the performances and the story are all fantastic. I’m not sold, completely, on the musical numbers. Watching the entire show, I can’t profess to remembering any of the tunes, there’s nothing that seeped into my brain to curl up with other show tunes.
But I LOVED the story, and can’t recommend getting out to see this show anyway you can, and this Cineplex event may be the perfect way to do it. The more people who know the story, the better the chance of stopping something like that from ever happening again.
Knowing that Takei lived through this only bolsters my respect higher for the man, and the work he continues to do.
Definitely worth taking a look, so get out there tonight, check your local Cineplex listings for showtimes.