Anyone following Star Trek’s very own George Takei on social media will know he has been committed to the musical Allegiance, with shows on Broadway and a cast recording. His own personal experiences in the Japanese Interment Camps were recently seen on TV with The Terror: Infamy.
The dark side of the US during WWII has gone uncounted for most people, this awful chapter would only be fully recognised by Regan in the late 80s.
The idea of doing a musical for this chapter of living memory could be spurious. The tone is just about right for most of the show, the music and lyrics of Jay Kuo might not be the most brilliant ever, but I found myself lost in a few of the songs toe taping snap and stirring urgency. The Charing Cross Theatre might not have been the best choice for the staging, sat in the middle of the raised seats there were moments I could hardly see, the other island of seats suggesting the segregation the show proves. Director and choreographer Tara Overfield Wilkinson is soberingly faithful to the project, having been around for the earlier versions.
Takei plays both Sam Kimura and Ojii-chan, the former present day and the latter during the time of the camps. There are sweet moments with this esteemed actor and whilst it’s not the most varied of roles, Takei is bringing us back to a very personal time for him, as he found himself sent to these camps at an early age. As Sam’s younger self, Telly Leung had big musical chops, if a little nasal. His decision to join the US army is the major impact, a decision which the name of the show holds up a mirror to, as other characters are stuck between their heritage and their country of citizenship. His song with nurse Hannah Campbell played by a zesty Megan Gardiner get a jolly, silly song together remains a highlight.
This expectedly diverse group of an ensemble make the most of some decent songs and get to dance about the space which is not the biggest surface.
The show should be seen for its openness to discuss just what happened and why.
It runs until Saturday 8th April 2023.
Review: James Ellis Photos: Tristram Kenton