HomeBad Ass Asians'Allegiance' Opens Tonight on Broadway--Helping to Heal Wounds of Past

‘Allegiance’ Opens Tonight on Broadway–Helping to Heal Wounds of Past

George Takei signs autographs at the Longacre Theatre stage door in New York after the first preview of ALLEGIANCE on October 6, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang
George Takei signs autographs at the Longacre Theatre stage door in New York after the first preview of Allegiance on October 6, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

The long road to Broadway finally comes to a triumphant premiere tonight for George Takei and the people behind Allegiance, the new musical about the incarceration camp experience and how it tore apart Japanese American families.

That journey of script and audience development began in 2008 and lead to the world premiere of the musical at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego in 2012. The play attracted record attendance, critical acclaim and numerous awards. Takei vowed he would take the play to Broadway and after a month of previews, the show finally opens tonight with the original San Diego cast of Takei, Lea Salonga and Telly Leung pretty much in tact.

Many may have doubted this day would ever come, but not Takei who launched a strategically brilliant social media campaign to first raise his personal brand. Takei now has 9 million likes to his Facebook page and 1.7 million followers on Twitter. It gave him the perfect platform to promote and advocate for the show.

Takei told PBS his play is sort of a nightly personal apology to his father.

“In one heated discussion with my father, I said ‘Daddy, you led us like sheep[s] to slaughter into the internment camps,’” recalls Takei. “Then he looked at me and said, ‘Well, maybe you’re right,’ and he got up, went into his bedroom and closed the door. And I felt terrible. And I never apologized. I’m apologizing to my dad every night.”

Some including the Japanese American Citizens League have been critical of the play’s historical inaccuracies. JACL is particularly sensitive of the portrayal of Mike Masaoka, the JACL leader who encouraged Japanese Americans to cooperate with the incarceration orders as a way to prove their loyalty to the United States.

In a recent blog in the JACL publication Nichi Bei, former JACL national president Floyd Mori and the current president and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, said while he cringed at some of the historical inaccuracies, the overall message of the play resonates with him.

“We should applaud the writers and actors for telling a story which shows that our government can and did do wrong when prompted by bigotry and war hysteria,” Mori wrote. “I recommend all to see this glimpse into the lives of people who had been violated and stripped of their Constitutional rights during World War II.”

What perhaps struck Mori the most was sitting in the audience with his granddaughter and watching her enjoy the play.

“I came away from the play entertained and recommitted to doing what I can do to make sure that all aspects of the World War II unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans are told.”

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