George Takei headlines the moving Broadway Musical Allegiance at Charing Cross Theatre. Based on the book by Marc Acito. Elements of the story are from the life experiences of Takei while he was growing up, the events that take place in Allegiance are not biographical although they are based on another family’s experience in the same camp as Takei’s family.
Sam Kimura (George Takei) has been estranged from his family for over fifty years. The news of his sister’s death and a delivery of a mystery envelope forces Sam to revisit a part of his life that he had suppressed for all those years.
The stage comes to life as the cast brings Kimura’s memories to life and we have the privilege of watching the events that shaped the man and caused the deep family and cultural divide. Telly Leung steps into the role of younger Sam Kimura as the family’s past unfolds and has shaped the future Sams response to the letter delivered.
In 1941 America all residents of Japanese descent were automatically classed as “enemies of the state” after Japan attacks Pearl Harbour. The descendants are forcibly removed and held in camps to keep America “safe” for an undisclosed amount of time. These families had made America their home, the inhumane actions divided the community. To show their “Allegiance” to the USA it’s decided that a questionnaire is distributed to the camps. Seeing some of the men signing up to fight as American citizens and others refusing to.
Kei Kimura (Aynrand Ferrer) plays Sam’s sister is an incredible actor with a voice to match. Her stage presence and compassion for her whole family are extremely moving. When she argues with Sam about her husband upon his return from war it left me with a lump in my throat.
During one scene the camp is engulfed by a terrible sandstorm. The effects are incredibly realistic and for a moment through suspension of disbelief, I felt I was witnessing an actual event. Extremely moving to watch the cast trying to escape out of the sand before being overcome by it and choking.
Tara Overfield Wilkinson’s choreographer and director are flawless. From the train formation journey to the camps, numerous uplifting musical routines, and harrowing battlefield scenes. I fail to see that anyone couldn’t be moved by the roller coaster of emotions played out in Allegiance.
Leung has been brilliantly cast, his bone structure, mannerisms, and smile resemble Takei in his younger days aboard the Starship Enterprise. Making the step back in time to the younger Sam believable.
History isn’t meant to be comfortable or edited. Bringing one of the misjudged and darker sides of American History to the stage in a musical format has been sensitively worked and presented to allow audiences to understand the cost on humanity and innocent people.
Allegiance will be one of the musicals that leaves a lasting memory for all the right reasons. Running until April 8th there’s plenty of time to catch a performance and catch this legendary actor on stage.
For more information on Allegiance and future productions at the Charing Cross Theatre please use the link below.