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Theatre / Allegiance

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Allegiance is a musical with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Kuo and Lorenzo Thione. It's most famous for involving George Takei, who stars in the original Broadway production, and whose stories of being a child during the WWII Japanese-American interment inspired the play. Its other two leads are Lea Salonga, whose Broadway return broke the Asian-American and Broadway-fan sides of the Internet, and Telly Leung of Glee, Godspell, and RENT.

The plot follows the Kimura family in the weeks and years following the attack on Pearl Harbor, as they are forced to leave their farm in Salinas, California and relocated to the Heart Mountain internment camp in rural Wyoming.

Has no affiliation with the TV show, video game, or Star Wars novel of the same name.


Allegiance contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: When Frankie gets into a scuffle with an armed soldier, the latter accidentally fires his gun and unintentionally shoots Hannah, killing her. This is what pushes Sam to become estranged from his family in the end.
  • Audience Surrogate: The presence of white characters is often used to justify explaining some Japanese word or practice that may also be unfamiliar to the audience. In one case, it's the very Americanized Sam who is unfamiliar with a Japanese word. He is promptly chastised for not studying enough.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Most of the Japanese used in the show is also explained, but there are still moments where Japanese is used without translation.
  • Bittersweet Ending: While Sam grows up to be a bitter old man, the rest of his family dies over time, and the last time he ever saw them was when he coldly left them behind. However, he finally rekindles his love for his family after finding his father's copy of Time Magazine (which covered Sam's achievements during the war), as well as his old Purple Heart, both of which are given to him by Kei's now-adult daughter, Hanako.
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  • The B Grade: Kei was not an "A Student". It was an A minus. Both she and her father find this distinction very important.
  • Christmas Cake: Implied, Kei tells Ojii-san why she's not at the dance is because she sees herself as an Old Maid. The only clues to her age is that she raised Sam following their mother's death and still remembers what their mother was like in life.
  • Coming of Age Story: For both Sam and Kay, in different ways. Sam's trying to reconcile what his strongly Japanese father wants for him versus what he thinks is right, trying to find a way to forge his own path without dishonoring the family. Kay essentially raised Sam after their mother died in childbirth, and now that he's grown up and seeking his own path, she has no idea what she's supposed to be.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Kei and Frankie name their daughter after Hannah.
  • Death of a Child: A young couple's sick baby dies due to the camp's poor medical care. This is actually Truth in Television, as many Japanese-Americans, children included, were left without proper medical attention in the camp, and a good number of them ended up suffering from fatal diseases.
  • Education Mama: Sam's father wants him to study hard and go to law school. When he finds out that Sam's application was rejected, he is not happy.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: The neighboring farmer turns out to be this. Despite years of friendship, he still gives the Kimura's a raw deal when buying their farm.
  • Foregone Conclusion: From the opening scene, we already know that Sam will join the army, survive the war, and become estranged from his sister.
  • Framing Device: The story starts when Sam, now an old veteran, gets the news that his sister has died.
  • A Good Way to Die: Ojii-san dies of a heart attack in his garden. However, this is the kind of death he had hoped for, as he wished to buried in the garden so that his body could "fertilize the ground". In the play, George Takei's brilliant performance makes it clear he knows he's dying, he's dying exactly the way he wanted to, and he's ready to move on.
  • Identical Grandfather: Old Sam looks exactly like his grandfather. Because they're both played by George Takei.
  • Ironic Juxtaposition: In the background, Mike Masaoka is saying that those in internment camps should focus on the goal of proving the loyalty of Japanese-Americans in general rather than focusing on individual suffering. In the foreground, a spotlight is literally being shone on a couple weeping over their infant who just died due to exposure and lack of medical care in the camp.
  • The Quisling: Mike Masaoka, at least from the perspective of the detainees, although the play makes it clear he didn't have many good options.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mike Masaoka tries to be one of these. Unfortunately he has basically no power and no one will listen to him, and his constant encouragement for the Japanese to just play along makes him come across (especially to some of the more rebellious intern-ees) as The Quisling.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Sam and Hannah. Discarding the prejudice against Japanese Americans during World War II, interracial marriage was not an acceptable thing at the time.