George Takei’s Allegiance ★★★★★

George Takei’s Allegiance is an emotion-packed musical which follows the struggles of the Kimura family in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbour.

Shining light on a little known and shameful period of American history, George Takei’s Allegiance at London’s Charing Cross Theatre is a beautiful yet devastating piece of musical theatre.

Based loosely on the Star Trek legend’s family story, it charts the treatment of Japanese Americans living in the shadow of the World War II and their internment, classed as enemy aliens, after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour, in 1941. Allegiance explores the experience of three generations of the Kimura family as they find themselves stripped of their business, land and property as, along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans, they are banished into one of ten long-term camps across seven US states.

It’s a stoic tale of honour, love and survival and one that cannot fail to touch the heart. More so, it’s a story not just of then, but of today.

Photo by Danny Kaan

As Sammy Kimura, a captivating Telly Leung captures the bewilderment and anger of a young man robbed of not just his liberty but also his identity and future. His is a nuanced, intelligent performance that drives the production. 

On stage throughout the two-hour piece, George Takei, however, is supreme as the older Sam, now a man in his eighties, looking back on a life shattered by his enforced imprisonment all those years before. It’s a noble, heartfelt, and quietly powerful performance that is simply mesmerising.

At 85 years old, Takei also plays the Kimura family grand-father, Ojji-Chan, crafting with innate skill two distinct but wholly believable family members from very different worlds.

They are ably supported by a 14-strong, excellently-drilled company that breathes unexpected depth and honour into Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione’s book while also ensuring the lyrics of Jay Kuo never fail to hit home.

Watch for stand out performances from Aynrand Ferrer as Kei Kimura, Sammy’s wonderfully maternal older sister, who is a delight, and Masashi Fujimoto, whose portrayal of Kimura patriarch, Tatsuo, is another anchor of the piece.

From Wishes On The Wind, to With You, and the joyous Stronger Than Before, not forgetting the glorious Our Time Now, Andrew Hilton and Charlie Ingles’ orchestrations flow and soar under musical director Beth Jerem, while Tara Overfield Wilkinson’s dynamic and considered direction ensures the action never falters.

In his programme notes, Takei voices his desire that we all ‘overcome our prejudices, fears’ and ‘allegiances’ to ‘discover our common humanity’. That is the legacy he hopes Allegiance will leave in the hearts and minds of all who see it, and as the musical builds to its stunning denouement, only the hardest of souls and coldest of spirits will remain untouched by this heart-wrenching but ultimately magnificent celebration of the resilience of the humanity.

This exciting production deserves to sell and be seen. It will. And remember, bring a handkerchief. It’s emotional. 

Review by Recs’ guest reviewer Liam Rudden

George Takei’s Allegiance receives ★★★★★ (5 stars) from The Recs for its UK premiere. 

George Takei's Allegiance Tickets

George Takei's Allegiance runs at the Charing Cross Theatre until Saturday 8 April 2023

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