Inspired by the life story of renowned actor and activist George Takei, the European premiere of the uplifting Broadway musical Allegiance follows the story of the Kimura family and their struggles in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In a world ravaged by the effects of war, Allegiance reveals the courage and loyalty of family in a time of great injustice as 120,000 Japanese-Americans are forced into internment camps, testing the power and resilience of the human spirit.
Allegiance tells the moving story of Sam Kimura (Takei) as he is transported back nearly six decades to when his younger self (Telly Leung) and his sister Kei (Aynrand Ferrer) fought to stay connected to their heritage, their family, and themselves after Japanese-Americans were wrongfully imprisoned during World War II.
Young Sam believes enlisting is the way to demonstrate his patriotism and win the freedom of his people. Kei sides against him and joins the resistance movement in the camp. Soon, the political conflict is mirrored within the Kimura family, leading brother and sister down starkly different paths as they decide where their allegiance lies.
A powerful story told with great resonance and intimacy, Allegiance explores the ties that bind us, the struggle to persevere and the overwhelming power of forgiveness and, most especially, love.
Takei and Leung starred alongside Lea Salonga (Kei) in the original San Diego production and its Broadway transfer. Kei will now be played by fellow Filipina Aynrand Ferrer, who was “1st cover Kim” in the latest UK and Ireland tour of Miss Saigon and “alternate Kim” in Vienna, Austria (the role that shot Salonga to stardom).
The production also stars Hiroshima-born Masashi Fujimoto as Tatsuo. Fujimoto is known for Roman’s Empire, Beehive, Schizo Samurari Shitzu, and Nazi Megastructures.
Leung is best-known for his role of Wes, the Warbler on Glee. Onstage, he is known for playing Boq in Wicked (original Chicago company), the titular character in Aladdin (Broadway), and Steven in In Transit (original Broadway cast), amongst other notable credits.
Takei is, of course, best-known for playing Mr. Sulu in Star Trek. He is also known for his many voice acting credits, such as Archer, Mulan, and The Simpsons. British audiences will remember his appearance on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, where he placed third.
As aforementioned, Allegiance is based on the real-life experiences of Takei. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II, California-born Takei and his family were placed behind the barbed-wire enclosures of United States’ internment camps. He spent years of his childhood at Camp Rohwer in the swamps of Arkansas and at wind-swept Camp Tule Lake in northern California. When the war ended Takei’s family returned to their native Los Angeles.
Takei said: “Allegiance is a story from America’s past, but it has great relevance today. Once again, fascism is on the march, and whole communities are under attack. Again, the freedoms so many take for granted are gravely imperilled. Allegiance is my legacy. We must learn the lessons of our past so that we may never repeat them. That’s why we tell our story. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life to ensuring we collectively honour the commitment, ‘Never again’.”
Allegiance‘s record-breaking and award-winning world premiere in San Diego in 2012 was followed by a Broadway run in 2015-2016. A filmed performance of the Broadway production was screened at roughly 600 movie theatres in North America in December 2016, with encore screenings on the Japanese Day of Remembrance in February 2017. Additional screenings were held in 481 theatres on December 7 2017 (with additional screenings on December 9 in Hawaii), to coincide with the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks.
East West Players (EWP) collaborated with Los Angeles’ Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) to mount the musical there in 2018, with Takei reprising his role; five actors from the original Broadway production participated in the revival.
Now, Allegiance gets a new and more intimate production for the UK, conceived specifically for the
Off West End space at Charing Cross Theatre.