The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings










See links at top of our Main Page







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review

Nothing That We Can Do
The World Is Not As We Knew!
So Keep Your Head Down
'Til The Storm Passes Through...
— Tatsuo, the patriarch of the musical's family at the heart of this musical's fictionized loook at how the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, robbed them of their freedom, homes and livelihoods and how their divergent views on how to respond to this unjust situation disrupted family solidarity.
Lea Salonga and George Takei (Matthew Murphy)
World War II was the first time Americans experienced the horror of being bombed in their homeland. The resulting panic led to the relocation of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps, forcing them to abandon homes and businesses. An increased awareness of this too little talked about miscarriage of justice is certainly warranted. So kudos to George Takei for inspiring Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Throne to turn his family's history into an original musical.

Kudos again to Takei for using his renown as Star Trek's Mr. Sulu to promote the project, and actually be part of it as the Kimura family's endearing grandpa Oji-chah as well as the character who bookends the story's sixty year time span. Takei's name on the marquee isn't just a ticket selling casting gimmick. His debut, though in a minor role, contributes charm and humor and his family's own internment experience adds poignancy to his presence on stage.

Though it does have its joyous and fun moments, Allegiance is not a forget-your-troubles song and dance show. Unlike Les Miz and Cabaret, it's an American story though it does take us to three countries. Since the blatant post-Pearl Harbor racism that robbed so many American citizens of their rights strictly because they looked like the enemy has been kept pretty much under wraps, you could view Allegiance as an exposé.

Given the high risk of launching a new Broadway show you can't blame the creative team for opting for a conventional, emotion-grabbing way into the narrative. — even though the focus on the romances and familial strife the relocations generated tends to weaken the well deserved indictment of those who relegated more than a hundred thousand fellow Americans to enemy alien status.

The often used framing device to lead into a story with a flashback works. It has Mr. Takei portray the key Kimura family member as an old man and also become part of the main story. The writers are also reasonably true to their fictionalized history of actual events. As for Jay Kuos's score, it's aptly rousing and operatic though somehow not as thrilling as it should be. Though there are no instant stick-to-the-ear breakout numbers with further listening the emotional first act finale "Our Time Now" does have more than a touch of Les Miz's "One Day More."

The lyrics aren't especially clever or memorable, but the vocally strong cast sings the heck out of them. The deep, classical baritone of Christopheren Nomura's Tatsuo Kimura had me wondering if this story might not have been more suitable as an opera. However, that would mean we wouldn't have this outstanding group of musical theater veterans.

Lea Salonga as Sammy's sister Kei is in better voice than ever. Telly Leung radiates Sammy's passionate idealism, as does Michael K. Lee as Frankie Suzuki, who like Sammy's father, sees Sammy's willingness to fight for the country that's rejected them as being untrue to themselves.

The love affair between Kei and Frankie provide the show with its musical highlights as well as the life-long family rift. The second love affair involves Sammy with a Nellie Forbush-like volunteer nurse (another standout performance by Katie Rose Clarke).

The show's one real life character is Mike Masaoka who was spokesperson to the government for the Japanese American Citizens League. Though well-played by Greg Wantanabe, his presence in the story does tend to further soft pedal the American leadership's abysmal actions. The Masaoka related political elements simply aren't as convincing and nuanced as the personal stories.

Allegiance could be but isn't as edgy a super crowd pleaser as Hamilton. That said, it does add to the welcome increased diversity of Broadway casts. Besides the seven main characters, the large Allegiance ensemble is dominated by Asian-American actors. This ensemble also helps put the Kimuras into the larger context of horror of what happened to so many of their fellow Japanese-Americans.

Director Stafford Arima (also an Asian-American whose own family suffered the same fate as the Takeis-cum-Kimuras in Canada) has ably steered the actors from the prologue, to the internment center, the Italian and French war scenes, and back to post-war California. Scenic designer Donyale Werle's shoji-like panels accommodate fluid scene shifts. Howard Binkley's lighting and Darrel Maloney's projection design allow for a not particularly pertinent but stunning Hiroshima explosion. Aleji Vietti's costumes, especially for the women, are true to period.

While this isn't much of a dance musical, Andrew Palermo does make the most of the internment camp's dance for the young diversion-starved young internees and a post-victory celebration ("442 Victory Swing"). The multiple instrument playing 12-piece orchestra is not over amplified.

Though the audience at the press preview I attended was packed with Asians of all ages, this is not a show aimed at a limited audiences but neither is it a four-ticket selling family musical like Wicked. But it's refreshing to have a new musical not based on a movie, a novel or an existing musical catalogue. And it does have George Takei who even gets to sing a delighful little ditty called "Ishi Kari Ishi."

Book by Marc Acito
Music and lyrics by Jay Kuo
Directed by Stafford Arima
Cast: George Takei (Sam Kimura/Ojii San); Lea Salonga ( Kei Kimura); Telly Leung (Sammy Kimura); Katie Rose Clarke (Hannah Campbell); Michael K. Lee (Frankie Suzuki); Christopher Nomura (Tatsuo Kimura); Greg Watanabe (Mike Masaoka).
Ensemble: Aaron J. Albano, Belinda Allyn, Marcus Choi, Janelle Dote, Dan Horn,Owen Johnston, Darren Lee, Nichols, Autumn Ogawa, Catherine Ricafort, Rumi Oyama, Momoko Sugai, Cary Tedder, Elena Wang, Scott Watanabe and Scott Wise.
Choreography: Andrew Palermo
Music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations: Lynne Shankel
Muscical Director: Laura Bergquist
Sets: Donyale Werle
Costumes: Alejo Vietti
Lighting: Howell Binkley
Sound: Kai Harada
Hair and Wigs: Charles G. LaPointe
Projections: Darrel Maloney
Stage Manager:
Running Time: 2 1/2 hours with intermission.
Longacre Theatre 220 West 48th Street
From 10/06/15; opening 11/08/15
Closing 2/14/16
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer at November 7th press preview
Musical Numbers
Act One
    "Prologue/Kei, Company
    "Do Not Fight The Storm"/Company
    "Gaman(endure With Dignity)"/Kei, Tatsuo, Company
    "What Makes A Man"/Sammy
    "I Oughta Go"/Hannah, Sammy
    "Get In The Game"/Sammy,Kei, Company
    "Should I?"/Hannah
    "Allegiance"/Tatsuo, Sammy, Kei, Company
    "Ishi Kara Ishi (stone By Stone)"/Oji-chan, Kei
    "With You"/Big Band Singer,Sammy, Hannah
    "Paradise"/Frankie, Company
    "Our Time Now"/Sammy, Frankie, Kei, Hannah, Company
Act Two
    "Resist"/Frankie, Company
    "This Is Not Over"/Kei, Frankie
    " Higher/Resist" (reprise)/ Kei, Company
    "Stronger Than Before"/Kei, Hannah
    "With You" (reprise)/Sammy, Hannah
    "Nothing In Our Way"/Frankie, Kei
    "Itetsuita "/Company
    "442 Victory Swing"/ USO Pilots/Company
    "Higher" "Ishi Kara Ishy" Rreprise)/Kei, Tatsuo
    "How Can You Go?"/ Kei, Sammy
    "Still A Chance"/ Kei, Company
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Allegiance
  • I disagree with the review of Allegiance
  • The review made me eager to see Allegiance
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2015, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from