A little more than two years ago, George Takei headlined the original musical “Allegiance” which appeared in San Diego’s Old Globe theatre for a week in September of 2012. “Allegiance” tells the story of a Japanese American family and the love and loss they face during internment and imprisonment in World War II American concentration camps, and is based on stories from Takei’s childhood.
Now, “Allegiance” is announcing that in the wake of its sold-out performances in 2012 in San Diego, the muscial is returning… and this time to Broadway! “Allegiance” will be opening November 8, 2015 on the stage of the Shubert Theatre, with preview performances to start October 6.
I am particularly excited by this news given the current state of Asian Americans in musicals. The “Allegiance” website notes that with its Broadway opening, “Allegiance” will become the first musical with a predominantly Asian American lead cast to play on Broadway since Oscar and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song, which was revived for Broadway by noted Asian American playwright David Henry Hwang in 2002. More recently, Broadway has hosted a production of David Henry Hwang’s play “Chinglish”, which also featured a mostly Asian American-led cast.
Moreover, when “Allegiance” makes its Broadway debut in November, it will play just down the street from the only current musical to feature any notable number of Asian American cast members — the wildly regressive and culturally exploitative “Miss Saigon”. “Allegiance” will also serve as a counterpoint to Disney’s “Aladdin” musical, which some have argued continues to feature actors in brownface.
Both “Miss Saigon” and “Aladdin” are tales that appropriate aspects of Asian-ness without an authentic connection to Asian or Asian American identity; “Allegiance” may be the necessary salve for this wound precisely because it is the political antithesis of these other musicals. According to their website:
Takei said he believed [“Allegiance”] is the first Broadway show to investigate the internment of Japanese-Americans and pointed to other great musicals that tackle tough moments in history, including “Les Miserables” and “Cabaret”. At the heart of “Allegiance” is the importance of family, he said, and that’s something “everyone can identify with”.
And yes, before you ask, it is true: George Takei will take the stage in the upcoming Broadway production of “Allegiance”. Reports BroadwayWorld.com:
Producers Lorenzo Thione and Andrew Treagus announced today that Allegiance, a new American musical, will open on Broadway next season at a Shubert Theater to be announced. Previews are set to begin on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 with opening night set for Sunday, November 8, 2015. Television and film star George Takei will star in the new musical which had its world premiere in a record-breaking engagement at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Allegiance has book by Marc Acito with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo. Helming the production is Olivier Award nominee Stafford Arima (London’s Ragtime, Off-Broadway’s Bare, Carrie,Altar Boyz).
George Takei, the original and beloved Mr. Sulu from “Star Trek”, film and television star, activist and social media icon, will make his Broadway debut in the production which was inspired by his real life childhood. Allegiance is a touching and uplifting story about a family’s love, loss and heroism during the period of the Japanese -American internment in World War II. A tale that will resonate with everyone: a story you’ve never heard about a family you will never forget.
Producer Thione says, “Allegiance takes audiences on an uplifting and emotional journey into a too-often overlooked moment in American history, and does so with both dignity and humor. The result is life-affirming and extraordinary. After seeing how audiences reacted to this story in San Diego, we knew we had to get it to Broadway.”
Those excited to see “Allegiance” on Broadway have an unprecedented opportunity to place some tickets on reserve prior to when the tickets go on sale (what is this — a Gamespot Call of Duty roll-out?). For $5, you can buy an “Allegiance” Priority Access Pass which will hold up to two tickets. Find out more information at AllegianceMusical.com.