Allegiance Review: Allegiance Scores in Astounding Production
This play is a must-see. The voices are powerful, the dancing fun and lively, and the sets flow seamlessly from act to act, creatively portraying images of the times.
Allegiance – A New American Musical, starring television and film icon George Takei, is an outstanding production. The main character Sam Kimura professes loyalty to America out of a need to “do something, anything, to make a difference,” and to protect his family. Instead he ends up driving a wedge between himself and his family. Sixty years later as a World War II veteran, he is faced with the ramifications of his choices and learns the truth about what his loyalties cost him.
The play goes far beyond merely documenting the unjust imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in internment camps in the 1940s after Pearl Harbor. It highlights the singling out of those who would not pledge allegiance to the US war machine, and even touches on the horror of the atomic atrocities committed by the US in Japan. And yet it takes time to poke light-hearted fun at the captors and provides plenty of uplifting scores to balance out the story. Despite the material, it is not somber or depressing. Family, love, friendship, and romance take center stage.
Takei (best known as Sulu in Star Trek) and his family, having lived in the interment camps themselves, were the inspiration for this poignant tale of one family whose allegiances between family and country are tested over and over.
Takei’s performances as the older Sam Kimura and his grandfather Ojii-san in the interment camp are exceptional. He seems to get better with age, yet has more energy than ever.
Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, and the singing voice in Aladdin and Mulan) plays Sam’s older sister, Kei Kimura. She takes on the mother role in raising Sam, eventually falling in with a group of internment camp activists, which drives another wedge between family members. Her singing is impeccable and she maintains a strong stage presence throughout.
Telly Leung (Godspell on Broadway, Glee, and Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway) plays younger Sam with convincing commitment to principles, torn between fighting for his country and honoring his community and his family. He carries the production from beginning to end with stunning precision.
However, the real pleasant surprise and the best singing voice is supporting actress Allie Trimm (Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway, Disney’s Prom, “30 Rock,” and “Private Practice.”). Her role as Nurse Hannah Campbell captivates the audience with charm, precision, and the feeling of the audience revolving around her. Truly, she is a key element to this play’s resounding success.
In short, this play is a must-see. The voices are powerful, the dancing fun and lively, and the sets flow seamlessly from act to act, creatively portraying images of the times.
Allegiance turns out to be so much more than the documentary that it appears to be at first glance, and will leave you telling your friends that they must see it too.