George Takei’s childhood experience living in camps in Arkansas and California has inspired a new musical called Allegiance.
Takei plays two characters in the show: Ojii-San, the grandfather of a family in an internment camp, and Sam Kimura, a 77-year-old former internee whose story is told from the present day.
I see Allegiance as my legacy project. The story is very important to me and it’s been my mission in life to raise Americans’ awareness of that shameful chapter of American history. I think we learn more from those times in our history where we stumbled as a democracy than we learn from the glorious chapters. We have the history of slavery or inequality to women, and now the civil rights movement of the 21st century is the struggle for equality for the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. And I think it’s important for Americans to know about the times that we failed, and Allegiance tells that story.
Playing the younger version of Takei’s character, Young Sam, is Telly Leung (Godspell, “Glee”), and his sister is played by Lea Salonga,winner of a Tony Award for her performance in the role of Kim in Miss Saigon, the first Asian to play Eponine in Les Misérables and the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in Aladdin and Fa Mulan in Mulan and Mulan II
Throughout the run of Allegiance a museum exhibit about the history of Japanese Americans who lived in San Diego prior to World War II and their removal to the internment camps is on display in the San Diego Museum of Man Annex directly adjacent to The Old Globe. The exhibit is free to the public and will be open two hours prior to each performance on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturdays; from noon to 7 p.m. on Sundays; and from noon to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays as part of Balboa Park’s Free Tuesdays.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]