For a quarter century, George Takei helped shape American popular culture through his role as Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek franchise.
Now, his latest work, the powerful, heart-wrenching, miraculous Broadway musical Allegiance, addresses a dark period in American history. And the curtain rises on Allegiance thanks in large part to Takei’s own vision and perseverance.
Over the course of World War II, these people were forced to live under the harshest of conditions, in camps based in such places as the swamps of Arkansas to the most desolate areas of Utah and Wyoming. They were imprisoned without charge and without trial, having had their homes, businesses and property taken from them.
Still, others in the internment camps resisted the military draft, and a requirement to swear allegiance to the U.S. and forswear loyalty to the Emperor of Japan (since they were already American citizens and had no loyalty to the Emperor, many found the requirement grossly offensive). These resistors found themselves imprisoned, often in federal penitentiaries.
Upon their release, the internees—homeless and penniless—were each given $25 and a bus ticket to the destination of their choice.
It’s this story that plays out eight times a week on the stage of Broadway’s Longacre Theatre. The tale is based on events from Takei’s childhood, when he and his family were relocated to an internment camp, and is told from the point of view of one Japanese-American family that finds itself torn apart by this imprisonment during World War II. Takei—a driving force behind the creation and production of Allegiance—appears in two roles, alongside Tony-Award winner and Disney star Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, Aladdin) and Broadway and TV star Telly Leung (Rent, Glee).
Allegiance is a story of hardship and resilience, of desperation and hope, and yes, of patriotism. It’s a story of family and betrayal, and ultimately, a story of love and redemption. With music and lyrics by Kuo and book by Marc Acito, Kuo, and Thione, Allegiance never forgets that it’s a Broadway musical (it comes complete with big, splashy productions numbers that are set in a U.S. internment camp). But the show is also a unique stage experience—and a work of a lifetime for Takei, who steps out from behind the helm of the U.S.S. Enterprise and launches himself as a major artist into the brilliant lights of the Great White Way. May this production live long and prosper.