Photo Credit: www.allegiancemusical.com
A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing the world premiere of a new musical at the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park – San Diego. “Allegiance” has been advertised all over the city as a “New American Musical” covering the lives of Japanese-Americans during World War II, with particular emphasis on their life in the internment camps and how it effected their relationships with family, friends, and ultimately their ‘allegiance’ to their country.
Going into this performance I must admit that I didn’t do any further research on the musical but I learned a great deal of the history that inspired it while I was at the park. A community organization erected a temporary exhibit in an adjacent building to the Old Globe that housed various antiques left over from the WWII era. Many of the items came from local areas in San Diego that had Japanese-American residents effected by the government ordinance. What stood out most to me was the map of San Diego’s Gaslamp District from the 1940’s. There were approximately 40 Japanese owned businesses in the downtown area prior to internment and today NONE have survived. I wonder how different life in downtown would be today if even some of those businesses were still standing. The community never really recovered from that time.
(Us standing outside the Old Globe before the musical.)
Review: I don’t want to spoil the story for you, so I won’t go too much into detail. “Allegiance” is the first American musical to have a predominantly asian cast, starring celebrities such as George Takei (best known for his role as Sulu in Star Trek), Lea Solanga (a fantastic actress / singer who provided the singing voices of Disney Princesses Jasmin and Mulan), Telly Leung (part of the Warblers on GLEE) , and Paolo Montalban (played the Prince in ABC’s version of Cinderella). All their characters were well portrayed and you could see the level of commitment they had to telling this story. Lea as Kei Kimura, blew me away with her voice; she sounded exactly like her recordings and really carried the musical as the maternal character. Another favorite character of mine was George as the grandpa of young Sam Kimura; he provided the comic relief with his witty commentary during serious moments. The set design was more modern than I expected with projectors and moving panels but had very smooth transitions from scene to scene. I enjoyed how some the the props were able to be transformed into something else for another scene, such as the netting from the war scene that was made into the garden grid in the internment camp. The songs that were most memorable for me were the ones that starred Lea, there’s just something about her voice and musicality that draws in the audience and makes a lasting impression; overall, all the music was pretty good.
It was interesting to see how “Allegiance” portrayed this dark chapter in American history. The story took you into the lives of people in the internment camps, giving you a different perspective as to how those people felt and perceived their country. Differing opinions tore the bonds of family and friends, and you couldn’t help but sympathize for the characters in their situation. I thoroughly enjoyed this musical and foresee it going to Broadway in the future! 🙂
Tip: Under 30 Deal for $20 — The Old Globe has a special deal on most musicals and plays at their venue for people under the age of 30. Those who qualify my purchase limited tickets for a discounted price, usually $20. Reservations may be made online but calling the box office seems to be more effective. On the day of your event, simply bring your confirmation code and valid ID that clearly states your date of birth to the box office.
Thanks for reading,