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Allegiance Opens on Broadway Starring George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung

Allegiance, the new musical by Marc Acitom with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and which is inspired by stories of Japanese-Americans uprooted from their homes after the Pearl Harbor attack and sent to internment camps, has arrived on Broadway.

In development for seven years, the show has undergone numerous changes since its 2012 San Diego premiere. Shepherding it to the stage is Olivier Award nominee Stafford Arima (London’s Ragtime, Off-Broadway’s Bare, Carrie, Altar Boyz).


The epic show which covers six decades is headlined by George Takei of Star Trek fame, who as a youngster was sent to internment camps with his family and thousands of loyal Japanese-Americans, making his Broadway debut. Co-starring is Olivier, Tony, and Drama Desk winner Lea Salonga, Telly Leung, and Michael K. Lee. The musical focuses on one loyal American family’s extraordinary courage during WWII and the peace time that followed. It’s a story of “love, the taboo of interracial love, memory, loyalty, and identity that can motivate and inspire all.”

Takei was only five when he saw his life dramatically change. “Early one California morning, I awoke and was looking out the window. I saw soldiers with bayonets mounted on their rifles coming up our driveway. They stormed the porch and pounded on the door. I soon realized that something momentous was happening in my family’s life. Overnight we were seen as the enemy, simply because we happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor.”


“I remember how scary it was,” he continues. “It was puzzling. None of us were loyal to the Emperor. We were Americans. My mother was born in Sacramento. There were no charges, no trial. We were rounded up and incarcerated in internment camps behind barbed wire fences in the swamps of Arkansas and later California. We lost everything. My father lost his business. We lost our home, our freedom.”

Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the 442 division of the Army was created. Thousands of young Japanese men volunteered and went to war to prove their loyalty to America. That division saw fierce fighting and some of the highest casualties of the war.

Through the memories of older Sam (Takei), the story is told of how he (Leung plays younger Sam) enlists in the army as his sister Kei (Salonga) and her boyfriend (Lee) protest the wrongful imprisonment and the draft. Divided loyalties threaten to tear the family apart, “but as long-lost memories are unlocked, they discover it’s never too late to forgive and to recognize the redemptive power of love.”

Tomorrow: Part Two


Ellis Nassour is an Ole Miss alum and noted arts journalist and author who recently donated an ever-growing exhibition of performing arts history to the University of Mississippi. He is the author of the best-selling Patsy Cline biography, Honky Tonk Angel, as well as the hit musical revue, Always, Patsy Cline.

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