On Sunday, February 19th, Allegiance will be broadcast in theaters for a second time. The one night only event last December broke records for Fathom Event sales. “The premiere was its highest-grossing one-night Broadway musical event to date, the 14-year-old company said, bringing in more than $1 million in ticket sales in about 600 theaters.” The filmed Broadway musical focuses on the experiences of Japanese-American citizens in internment camps during WWII. The musical stars George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung, and partially draws from Takei’s own experiences.
In the wake of executive orders trying to protect the country from interior and exterior threats, this story feels all too familiar. There are those Americans rallying against the “Muslim Ban” and those who either don’t see a problem with it or don’t feel it’s their place to speak up. Allegiance is technically a look at the past, but it’s also a frightening possibility for our future.
Allegiance is told as a flashback when aged Japanese-American veteran Sam Kimura (George Takei) receives a message regarding his estranged sister, Kei. This sparks bittersweet memories, and takes the audience into the past. Cut to 1941, a young Sam played by Telly Leung lives on a farm with his sister Kei (Lea Salonga), his father Tatsuo, and his Ojii-san (grandfather, also Takei). Their peaceful existence is disrupted by the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, when they are forced to sell their farm and relocate to an internment camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. As the war continues and they face racism at every corner, Sam and Kei embark on different paths driving them apart. Both want to make a change in the world, but while Sam devotes himself to extreme American patriotism, the once straight-laced Kei becomes more radical in her desire to protect her Japanese heritage. As their storylines take the forefront, the audience also sees the supporting characters affected, weaving historical accounts into the main story and giving a comprehensive view of an event most Americans know little about.
February 19th is the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt issuing Order 9066, which paved the way for the internment camps. FDR gave the Secretary of War the ability to determine specific military zones and authorized the forced removal of any people from those areas “as deemed necessary or desirable.” This displaced 110,000 Japanese Americans from the west coast—the fact that many were American-born meant nothing in the eyes of the government. They were relocated to camps across the U.S., many of which were poorly constructed or incomplete, creating inhumane conditions. Widespread irrational fear was cloaked in “military necessity” and national security.
Several Daily Geekette writers were able to see Allegiance either on Broadway, or at the first Fathom Events viewing in December. We were very moved by the show, and feel that its powerful story and relevancy will hit home with our readers. We urge you to attend the February 19th Day of Remembrance event at a theater near you. Tickets can be purchased here.
written by Brianna Murch and Kayla Farber