Allegiance Sheds Light on Dark US History

Allegiance is an original musical with Broadway ambitions. They even called it Allegiance, A New Broadway Musical in some press releases earlier this year. It's now more humbly subtitled A New American Musical but you just know they want to go to Broadway. Allegiance is a musical about the Japanese interment camps during World War II in the United States. It focuses on one family's story as they're forced to move from California to Wyoming following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The family is torn between loyalty to the United States and disillusionment with their treatment as American citizens.

The creation of the Japanese interment camps is one of the darker chapters in US history and one that isn't explored very often in media. Book writers Jay Kuo (also the composer/lyricist), Lorenzo Thione, and Marc Acito are tackling the history straight on. The family represents the various viewpoints regarding the interment camps and opens up the story to discuss these conflicts in a new way.

The show stars Telly Leung (Flower Drum Song revival, Godspell revival), Lea Salonga (Tony winner for Miss Saigon, singing voice of Princess Jasmine and Mulan), and George Takei (legend, social media superstar).

George's involvement in the project is not insignificant. He actually inspired the musical. He met with the three book writers at an event where they bonded over a love of musical theater. Then they met again at In the Heights, where the subject of George's childhood experiences in the Japanese interment camps came up. His story inspired Allegiance that day.

Here's a highlight reel from the world premiere run of Allegiance at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego.

The show's website says they plan to bring the show to Broadway this season if they can get the right theater. I hope they're successful. Those songs sound very good and the cast is great. If the book finds the right balance between history and narrative, Allegiance could be a must-see show.

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