REVIEW: George Takei’s Allegiance

Brian Butler February 17, 2023

From the opening moments when the aged US war veteran shuffles onstage, his voice gravelly, but stubbornly determined, you know you’re watching something special in the theatre.

Star Trek legend and LGBTQ+ activist George Takei is the inspiration for this musical based on a true and horrifying chapter in his life and American history.

And he’s centre stage when it matters, playing both the central character Sam Kimura in old age and also Sam’s grandfather in 1940’s Wyoming. George Takei’s Allegiance uncovers a shameful episode in US history – the internment of 120,000 loyal Japanese/Americans – many born in the USA – as a response to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour.

They were all rounded up and put behind barbed wire, treated like animals not patriots. George was 5 at the time when he and his family were put in the camps. The show, with book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione, and music and lyrics by Jay Kuo, covers life in the 1940’s camp but also two controversial love stories.

The young Sam (Telly Leung), tries to enlist in the US army but is rejected. His growing love for the camp’s nurse Hannah (Megan Gardiner), is balanced by the love entanglement of rebel Frankie Suzuki (Patrick Munday), for Sam’s sister Kei (Aynrand Ferrer).

There’s pain, anguish and death in this show but its overwhelming theme is love – love of family, love of country. And there are inter-generational and inter-cultural conflicts too. It’s a complex mix. The two central pair of lovers are all brilliantly played. Telly’s strong melodic line and exciting vocal range is matched by a visceral physicality. Close your eyes – and I mean this as a compliment – and Aynrand could be Broadway legend Lea Salonga who originated the part a few years ago. She has a soaring, pure but gutsy quality – this is a show of strong women. Megan Gardiner as the nurse equally pulls no punches and has a forthright and dramatic vocal range.

George has his cameos and tugs at our heartstrings in the show’s closing moments – you will have a tear to shed, there is no doubt. Musical director Beth Jerem manages a tightly knit band which puts across a mix of musical styles from swing to familiar Broadway sounds and a touch of the East.

The traverse staging, dividing the raked audience into two halves is managed well by director and choreographer Tara Overfield Wilkinson and the movement is both flowing and stylistically appealing.

It’s a show not to be missed – a 5 star triumph.

The show plays at the Charing Cross Theatre until 8 April. Tickets –