Allegiance at Charing Cross Theatre
George Takei’s Allegiance covers the rarely explored story of the 120,000 Japanese Americans who suffered forced internment during the second world war due to the fear that they might be Japanese spies. The musical covers a lot of ground and, with an emotionally punchy second act and some strong musical numbers, it’s engaging for the duration of its 140-minute runtime. That said, it is largely conservative in its ambition – not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but in this case it doesn’t help to make the production stand out against its competitors.
The plot centres around Sammy Kimura (Telly Leung), who is forced into a camp with his sister, Kei (Aynrand Ferrer), father, Tatsuo (Masashi Fujimoto) and grandfather – whom they lovingly call Ojii-Chan (George Takei) – after the attack on Pearl Harbour. When his father is imprisoned for refusing to swear allegiance to the US, Sammy enlists as a soldier to prove his and his family’s loyalty.
It’s fairly standard stuff, but done well, and in the second act the plot reaches some emotional heights that pay off: the conclusion in particular (in which Takei plays an aged Sammy who receives news from his family) is executed tear-jerkingly well. While Leung’s character is fairly standard hero material, the portrayal is consistent, and he has a smooth voice that conjures the best out of his musical numbers.
The songs themselves are all passable, and several border on ear-worm material. Leung’s duet with Megan Gardiner’s Hannah Campbell – I Oughta Go – is delightfully funny and cute, and Paradise, sung by rebel Frankie Suzuki (Patrick Munday), is thoroughly entertaining.
Tara Overfield Wilkinson’s production is kept simple, with sets and costumes by Mayou Trikerioti. The stage design features just a wooden frame with a few doors, and otherwise a couple of boxes; the costumes are more or less accurately representative of the period. Wilkinson also acts as the choreographer and creates some beautiful sequences when the music calls for them.
As such, Allegiance is certainly strong for an enjoyable night out. While it is fairly run-of-the-mill, sometimes that’s good, and the audience can be sure to find plenty to like about it – especially when it’s also coupled with a neglected episode in US history.
Photos: Danny Kaan and Tristram Kenton
Allegiance is at Charing Cross Theatre from 7th January until 8th April 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: