Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Broadway Theater Review: Allegiance

Lea Salonga and George Takei in a scene from "Allegiance" (c) Matthew Murphy

A Trek Through the Years to Tell Story of Life in the Japanese Internment Camps
By Lauren Yarger
Inspired by the true-life experience of its star George Takei (“Star Trek,” “Heroes”), Allegiance follows one family’s journey in this rarely explored part of American history on stage – life in the Japanese internments camps during World War II.

In this play, a mysterious envelope leads Sam Kimura (Takei) back 60 years to when he and his sister Kei (Lea Salonga of Miss Saigon fame making a long-awaited return to Broadway) try to survive after their family is transported to an internment camp. Young Sam is played by Telly Leung.

Sam enlists in the army to prove the family’s loyalty, but Kei, dealing day-to-day with government efforts to humiliate and indoctrinate the camp residents as well as with the shame of her father, Tatsuo Kimura (Christopheren Nomura), takes a different path. She becomes part of a resistance movement while finding romance -- and some difficult consequences-- with Frankie Suzuki (Michael K. Lee), who feels Sam’s decision to fight is a betrayal of his people.

A secondary romance flares between Sam and white nurse Hannah Campbell (Katie Rose Clarke), who changes her views about the camps as she gets to know the people living in them. Friend Mike Masaoka (Greg Watanabe) never stops fighting for the rights of the Japanese-Americans forced to give up their homes, businesses and lives. Family, perseverance and forgiveness are consistent themes.

The story is important, but the telling of it in the book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione falls flat. Music and Lyrics by Kuo are unimpressive (and very American-musical sounding with only a hint of the Japanese culture reflected), even if some impressive voices sing them (while it is wonderful to hear Solonga’s beautiful voice again, some of the songs seems composed just to give the singers an opportunity to belt). Choreography by Andrew Palermo is awkward and seems completely out of place.

Scenic Designer Donyale Werle and Costume Designer Alejo Vietti provide some of the creative highlights with color fading as the family’s situation turns bleak. Newsprint projected onto the set (design by Darrel Maloney) give a sense of the times. War scenes, directed by Stafford Arima, make us feel that we’re at the front. A number of scenes, totally unnecessary, could be cut, however, and trim the two-hour, 30-minute run time.

Allegiance runs through Feb. 14 at the Longacre Theatre,  220 West 48th St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Wednesday and Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $65 - $149: (800) 432-7250; allegiancemusical.com.

Ensemble:
Aaron J. Albano, Belinda Allyn, Marcus Choi, Janelle Dote, Dan Horn, Owen Johnston, Darren Lee, Kevin Munhall, Manna Nichols, Autumn Ogawa, Rumi Oyama, Momoko Sugai, Sam Tanabe, Elena Wang , Scott Watanabe and Scott Wise…. Ensemble

Creatives:
Music and Lyrics by Jay Kuo; Book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione; Direction by Stafford Arima; Choreography by Andrew Palermo, Music Supervision, Arrangements and Orchestrations by Lynne Shankel, Musical Direction by Laura Bergquist., Scenic Design by Donyale Werle, Costume Design by Alejo Vietti, Hair and Wig Design by Charles G. LaPointe; Lighting Design by Howell Binkley, Sound Design by Kai Harada, Projection Design is by Darrel Maloney. 

Christians might like to know:
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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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