On a recent morning, George Takeiand his husband, Brad, cram into the tiny office of a production company in Midtown Manhattan with a Broadway producer, a director, a makeup man, a script writer, a reporter, and two interns. Through the window, a torrent of yellow cabs can be seen barreling down Seventh Avenue through the dirty haze of a hellishly warm July morning. The Takeis, wearing matching black-and-gray New Balance sneakers, are exhausted. They arrived home late the previous night from a grueling stretch of press events and haven’t read today’s scripts.
Under Executive Order 9066, Rose Sueoka could not get her clothes clean enough. After she scrubbed them in the shared, makeshift latrine of her hastily erected prison, the clothes would be mostly clean. Nobody would notice the difference. But that was not the point. She turned to her husband, Shigeru, knowing he had nothing to his name, like her, and asked him to do the impossible: make her a washboard. They were chicken farmers from Petaluma, California, and he didn’t know how to make a washboard. But Shigeru scoured their concentration camp.
Many fans know George Takei from his role as Mr. Sulu on the 1960s show Star Trek. But in the past decade, he has drawn followers who admire him because of who he is — not just who he has played. Now, the new documentary To Be Takei may interest more people in Takei’s life.
Takei’s personal story offers insights into a couple of key chapters of American political and cultural history.
I remember my 94-year-old grandmother, Mary Masako Kanase, standing with tears in her eyes, reading the inscription on the stone memorial at the Japanese-American internment camp in Jerome, Arkansas this past October. She held my hand and said to me, “I’m so glad people remember.”
Grayce Uyehara, 94, who as a retired Philadelphia-area social worker helped lead the national redress movement for Japanese Americans interned during World War II, died Sunday at Virtua Memorial hospital in Mount Holly.
Her calm, persistent presence and truth telling helped push the federal government to formally apologize and to offer a $20,000-per-person reparation. During a decadelong campaign, she insisted that the war-era imprisonment was not only a Japanese issue but an American one, threatening the rights of all.
(Note from the editor: Allegiance starring George Takei, Lea Salonga and Telly Leung played to record audiences at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego in 2012. Takei has made it his dream to take the show to Broadway and vowed to fans that that would happen. The show is the emotional story of the impact the incarceration of Japanese Americans had on breaking up a family. More than a year later, no opening date has been announced.
George Takei is a man of many speaking engagements. He talks at “Star Trek” conventions about his role as Mr. Sulu. He tells soldiers and students about the role of Japanese-Americans during World War II, a subject in which he is well versed. In a new musical, “Allegiance,” based on his family’s experience living in internment camps during the war, he actually sings the story.
The former “Star Trek” actor has, over the past five years, morphed into one of social media’s more prominent figures, posting everything from funny cat photos to impassioned support for LGBT rights. He has more than 6.2 million Facebook fans, plus another 1 million Twitter followers eager for the latest intel; in contrast, the “Star Trek” franchise’s official Facebook page counts less than 3 million fans.
NEW YORK — Most theater producers with a new work heading for Broadway first secure a theater and gather a cast before trying to fire up an audience. By that measure, the man behind “Allegiance” is doing it backward.
George Takei, speaking by phone from his California home, cannot resist describing the un-wintry view from his window.
“There’s a flawless blue sky, golden sunshine and a green garden outside,” the Los Angeles-born Takei says in his burnished baritone, with just a hint of gloating. “But I am looking forward to being back in Baltimore. I love the bracing air of the Inner Harbor.”
This song, appearing for the first time in the score of Allegiance during the 2013 developmental lab, has quickly become one of Telly’s favorite songs to perform and is part of his regular repertoire as he’s performing in cabaret shows in London, NY and all around North America.
Telly’s new album – I’ll Cover You – is also available on Amazon.com and a limited-edition autographed copy can be ordered via the link to the right.
George Takei, best known as Captain Sulu of Star Trek, says it’s been his “lifelong dream” to make it to Broadway. He came close in 1960 when he was invited to audition for a show. But he did not get the part.
“It was a body blow,” says Takei. “Suddenly, New York turned into a cold, heartless city.”
The Old Globe presents the World Premiere of Allegiance — A New American Musical, an epic story of family, love and patriotism set during the Japanese American internment of World War II. Directed by Stafford Arima, with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and book by Marc Acito, Kuo and Lorenzo Thione, the production features choreography by Andrew Palermo and music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations by Lynne Shankel.
George Takei calls “Allegiance” his “legacy project.” Listen to the Star Trek actor and social media superstar talk about why he has so much invested in this new musical at the Globe about the Japanese American internment.
When Allegiance went into preview performances last month, it was still being tweaked says book writer Lorenzo Thione.
“It’s like archeology, a story is down there it lies down there and you just have to dig it up.”
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