Republished from Eri’s livejournal
I found out via the Twitterverse from Lea Salonga and George Takei that there was going to be an intimate preview of the new musical, Allegiance. Allegiance follows a Japanese American family during World War II in times of internment. This was the first run of the music. It wasn’t anything too fancy – the ensemble actually got together the weekend before to learn and rehearse the music. It was more of a concert where you could hear the songs and get an idea of what is to come before the show is Broadway official.
The free concert was held in Little Tokyo right by the Japanese American Cultural Center. There’s a theatre right across from it. I took Stan, our assistant editor at the time (and long time fan of George Takei) to the showing. Though this was a free snapshot of what the music could be like, this had an all star ensemble – George Takei, Lea Salonga, Jennifer Paz, Tamlyn Tomita, Jose Llana, etc just to name a few.
While things may change between now and the show’s opening on Broadway, we were given a taste of what’s to come. The story keeps flashing back to the past and returning to the present. Jennifer Paz, Jose Llana, and Tamlyn Tomita play the Japanese American family during the time of internment. George Takei played the older version of his character in the present day. Lea Salonga played a snarky second generation Japanese American, which is a nice change of pace from what I usually see her in.
While the lyrics do need some work and the score is on the so-so side (then again, everything was accompanied by piano), it was still nice to see an original idea for a Broadway show. Also, it’s a show that showcases Asian American talent opening up more opportunities for Asian Americans. More importantly, it’s a story and a reminder of a dark time in American history that needs to be told. Often times, internment camps are very much glossed over in US History classes and sometimes Farewell to Manzanar will get a brief shoutout in a high school English class. Despite some of the shaky lyrics, you still got to live through the emotions and trials of a Japanese American family in the camps. However, I hope they keep the final song. It’s very tear jerking.
After the show, there was a wine and cheese social where you could meet the creative team behind Allegiance. It was really nice taking to George Takei – he’s super friendly in person and feels like that cool grandpa that’s always up for adventure.
While this may not be the final cast set for the Broadway opening, I was happy that we did see this ensemble. This was top Asian American talent from the stage. I’m really hoping that we do see them all together soon and that Broadway will welcome this story with open arms.