Entertainment » Music

Allegiance - Original Broadway Cast Recording

by Kitty Drexel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Feb 3, 2016
Allegiance - Original Broadway Cast Recording

"Allegiance" is the original cast recording of the George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung driven musical by the same name. The music and lyrics are by Jay Kuo. The book is by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione. It is the same production at which Takei held a nightly seat for known bigot Donald Trump when Trump called for a halt of all immigration of Muslims to the US. Sadly, Trump did not take advantage of Takei's offer.

"Allegiance" is a musical about the people torn by war between their identities and the country they love. The Kimura family is living in California when Pearl Harbor is attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. Just as in American history, all Japanese people are forced from their homes and incarcerated in internment camps. America is thrust into a civil war with its own citizens.

"Allegiance" follows the Kimura family as they attempt to fight for their civil liberties and move forward with their lives. It is based on the true accounts of George Takei's experiences in an internment camp. Notable deviations include Hollywood-type effects and heterosexual love stories.

The influence of traditional Japanese music is unmistakable. It is combined with modern musical theatre and big band styles to create a uniquely styled production. Unlike other Asian experience-focused musicals such as "Miss Saigon" and "South Pacific," "Allegiance" allows its characters to tell their stories relatively free from the white-gaze. This freedom is immediately apparent in the lyrics of Jay Kuo, Marc Acito, and Lorenzo Thione. We hear historical accounts of the marginalized American-Japanese community unfettered by guilt. It's refreshing.

It is the same production at which Takei held a nightly seat for known bigot Donald Trump when Trump called for a halt of all immigration of Muslims to the US. Sadly, Trump did not take advantage of Takei's offer.

Takei is earnest as elder Sam Kimura, and Ojii-chan. He isn't a great singer but what he lacks in technique he triples in charm. He is featured on only one track, "Ishi Kara Ishi," (translated: stone by stone) a duet with the golden throated Lea Salonga. Though this track is mostly spoken, Takei's signature precociousness is well employed.

If Takei is the draw to this musical then Lea Salonga is the reason to listen repeatedly... And then seek out her other recordings. Her voice is sweet like berries. She sounds like a Disney princess emancipated from her PG film limitations. "Higher" is a radio-friendly pop ballad ready for the mainstream. "Still A Chance" is a lovely, heartbreaking insight into wistful reflection.

Telly Leung was vastly underutilized as a vocalist on "Glee." He delivers a courageous performance on this cast recording. His voice is widely expressive on solo song "What Makes A Man." It is clear that his vocal talent equals that of his dancing.

The CD booklet has rich images from the Broadway production, a synopsis, song transcriptions and a personal note/mission statement from George Takei. Takei's note is heartwarming and inspiring. It is right that this musical comes at a time when the US so desperately needs a reminder that all its citizens deserve equal rights. It's too bad that Trump missed it.


Allegiance - Original Broadway Cast Recording
Broadway Records
$12.99, for download
http://www.broadwayrecords.com/

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