- OnStage St. Louis Critic
On December 13th across the country fans gathered to see the cinematic release of the Broadway musical “Allegiance”. I was fortunate enough to see this show during the Broadway run at the Longacre Theatre. The story is set in the 1940s in an internment camp at Heart Mountain. George Takei (Sam Kimura/Ojii-san) began this passion project wanting to share the stories of over 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were forced to relocate after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Takei and his family spent four years interned in a camp. Many history books gloss over this part of America’s war plan. As it mentioned a few times in the opening welcome speech and wonderful behind the scenes video that we need to learn from our past so we do not make the same mistakes. With recent political movements the interment of American citizens was brought up again. This story is timely and important to hear. The interned characters in “Allegiance” sing so beautifully we must ‘Gaman’ and carry on as a community.
The cast is phenomenal. Telly Leung (Sam Kimura 1940s) is a strong leading man who showed the pain of trying to figure how to remain loyal to two very different sides. Lea Salonga (Kei Kimura) solos parts were show stoppers. It is amazing to see such a powerful female lead. Michael K. Lee (Frankie Suzuki) is so charming and funny who has the audience laughing and rooting for his character. George Takei making his Broadway debut steals many scenes has the funny Ojii-san, and breaks hearts has the modern day Sam.
The set is perfectly minimalist, lighting and backdrops doing a lot of the work to change the scenes. Frames that look exactly like the ones that would make the cabins the interned families were held in fold and roll off to show what camp life was entailed. The camera work filming the live production was great. The close up reactions they captured on film could never be seen from even the front row of the best theatre. I am very happy I got to see it live first and then this professional closer look.
Recently “She Loves Me” had a similar release, after an on-line stream from BroadwayHD.com. “Newsies” is planning a wide cinematic release in February through Fathom Events, for ticket information visit fathomevents.com. I must also add that ‘Hamilton’ was professionally filmed although Lin-Manuel will not say if there will be a wide release soon.
I hope this momentum continues. Having these amazing pieces of art preserved is a great way to allow people who cannot afford or physical make a trip to New York to be a part of something bigger. It will also allow us to pass on these important stories to the next generation.