By Arturo R. García
We generally don’t review a lot of plays here at the R, but this looks to be a marked exemption: next month will see the premiere of Allegiance, a musical starring George Takei and Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga, in my town, and I’m planning on being there.
The show will follow the Omura family, who are among the 120,000 Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during World War II. Takei plays Sam Kimura, who is forced to confront his estrangement from his family in the decades after the war, while Salonga, in flashbacks, plays Sam’s older sister Kim, who finds herself on her own collision course with her family’s stance during their imprisonment.
Earlier this year, Takei used his online popularity to raise $150,000 for the show in an IndieGogo campaign. The show will hit the stage about a year after doing workshop performances in Los Angeles. During the production’s pre-Broadway run in San Diego, an art installation honoring internment camp residents will be on display in the theater.
The show debuts not long after another local production, The Nightingale, was criticized for going with “colorblind casting” in a play set in ancient China, leading to an audience protest during a workshop performance last month.
“Inadvertently, this kind of thing says you continue to be irrelevant,” one attendee said. “Reminds me how invisible [Asians] still are and how we are so often not invited to sit at the table. The play takes place in an Asian country and it is like a knife to the heart.”