‘Allegiance’ breaks Globe box office records
Musical about Japanese-American internment sets all-time mark at box office
The final performance of the Old Globe’s “Allegiance — A New American Musical” on Sunday night left George Takei close to speechless — and not just from the emotion of the occasion.
“The timing (of closing night) is good because I’m about to lose my voice,” the “Star Trek” icon and driving force behind this world-premiere show rasped with a smile at the closing-night cast party.
But if the production’s seven-week run — not to mention Takei’s marathon post-performance meet-and-greets — tattered the actor’s vocal cords, it also did a number on the Globe’s record books.
The Balboa Park institution has announced that “Allegiance” is officially the highest-grossing show in the theater’s 77-year history, taking in $2.23 million since performances began Sept. 7.
According to the Globe, which last year had total ticket sales of just under $12 million, the show’s box-office take tops that of the previous No. 1, the 2007 post-Broadway staging of “Avenue Q,” as well as those for the Globe productions of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life.” (All three of the latter went on to Broadway.)
The Globe said attendance totaled 32,385.
“Allegiance” has been the passion project of a lifetime for Takei: The show centers on a family torn apart by the forced relocation of Japanese-Americans to remote U.S. camps at the start of World War II.
Takei, just a child at the time, and his own parents and siblings were among more than 100,000 people of Japanese heritage — many of them U.S. citizens — who were interned.
While Takei admitted it was bittersweet to see “Allegiance” close, “I consider tonight a joyous occasion, because we made such a mark here,” he said.
As he spoke, actors and artists embraced, reminisced and raised toasts around him in the Globe’s Hattox Hall.
“I’ve got to say, we are really indebted to the Old Globe, because this is a high-risk project,” Takei said. “(Internment) was a shameful chapter in our history. It’s not a happy story to watch or listen to.”
Takei and others involved with “Allegiance” are confident, though, that this is not the end of the story. They have sights set firmly on Broadway.
Jay Kuo, the musical’s composer-lyricist and co-writer (with Lorenzo Thione and Marc Acito), said that while plenty still needs to be worked out in terms of timing and financing, the goal is to open “Allegiance” on Broadway in late 2013 or early 2014.
The only bittersweet aspect for Kuo was knowing that some songs and scenes may have taken their curtain calls.
“I know there are changes coming to the show,” said Kuo, noting that a private “lab” staging of the piece is in the works in order to make revisions based on what the team learned from Globe audiences.
“I do think the show has a wonderful future,” said Telly Leung, a star of Broadway as well as TV’s “Glee,” who played the idealistic young internee Sammy. (Takei played both Sammy’s grandfather and an older version of Sam himself.)
“I think the city of San Diego and the audiences in San Diego have definitely showed us there’s something really beautiful that works about the show — and that people are moved by it,” he said.
It was an especially momentous weekend for Escondido’s Allie Trimm, who has previous Broadway credits for “Bye Bye Birdie” and “13″ and has been part of “Allegiance” since nearly the project’s inception some three years ago.
Trimm, who played nurse Hannah (Sammy’s love interest) in the Globe production, turned 18 the day before the final performance. She has been accepted to Stanford University, but has deferred her enrollment for at least a year so as to see how “Allegiance” and other stage projects develop.
Trimm was part of a strong contingent of cast members with local ties, including Jill Townsend, Geno Carr, Brandon Joel Maier and Kurt Nörby.
Lea Salonga, the Tony Award-winning actress (“Miss Saigon”) who played Sammy’s sister, Kei, admitted at the party that “I got a little overwhelmed by my emotions today. I’ve been in a lot of emotional shows, a lot of tragic shows. But I don’t really remember a cast being this close-knit and so familial and so supportive of each other. Everyone has everyone else’s back. It’s a rare thing.”
As for Salonga’s prospects of staying with “Allegiance” for its next chapter: “Oh, I wanna be a part of it! I don’t want to miss out on this.”