It was recently announced that Allegiance will be shown in cinemas. I got very excited and looked at my archives to find the post I had written when we saw Allegiance in December, so I could tweet it out. And I found no such post. So I’m trying to write about it now.
Allegiance is the only Broadway show I ever dragged the Kid to. She’s seen others, of course, but this one was different. She had no desire of her own to see it, but I felt it was important and necessary.
It’s a beautiful piece based on the real experiences of George Takei, who was imprisoned with his family in a Japanese Internment Camp as a child. The story is not about him, but about young adults facing romance, military service, and the realities of being second-class citizens during war time. George Takei kept a seat open at every show in the hopes that Donald Trump would come to see it to understand the impact of racist rhetoric. Trump never showed up.
But we did, and I was moved. The show is uneven–the choreography isn’t great and the songs are inconsistent. But Takei and Lea Salonga are tremendous, and there are some really great numbers that are worth your time.
On the way out of the theater, I overheard a young woman saying that she had never learned about Japanese internment when she was in high school. For many people, Allegiance is the first and only exposure people get to this dark time in American history. For others, it’s a way in to the emotional side of a historical event. Art makes you see events through someone else’s eyes, and seeing this one through Takei’s eyes brought me a perspective I’d never had before.
I don’t know what impact, if any, it had on the Kid. She was in her anti-Broadway phase at the time and didn’t want to talk about it. But at least she’ll never say she had no idea that Japanese people were interned in the US during WWII.
I’m really excited that more and more Broadway shows are being shown on movie screens. It’s not the same as live theater, but it’s a chance to see something at an affordable price and in a lot more places. It’s also preserving these performances for the future, which is a great thing for our culture as a whole.
If you get a chance, check it out.