Twofer Star Trek and gay icon George Takei opened on Broadway last week, 50 years after Sulu, and 70 since World War II and racism swept Takei and his family into a wartime relocation center and unimaginable hardship.
The occasion was Allegiance, a heroic new musical Takei stars in and developed with composer Jay Kuo and writer Lorenzo Thione. The heart wrenching story, about a brother and sister whose divided allegiances tear a family apart, isn’t autobiographical, but is informed by Takei’s own childhood spent at Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas, and another at Tule Lake in California.
Takei was one of 120,000 Japanese Americans locked up in camps across the West, where boys of age were asked to pledge allegiance to the United States by committing to serve in the U.S. armed forces. AKA going to war for your jailer.
Some did. The 442nd Regiment, made up almost entirely of war camp enlistees, was the most decorated unit of its kind, and kick-ass; 4,000 troops were replaced nearly two-and-half times.
Others didn’t. At Heart Mountain, where Allegiance is set, nearly a hundred young Japanese Americans were sentenced and imprisoned for Selective Service Act violations.
That’s the drama at the heart of the show, and the setting for a triumph of spirit in song.
Allegiance is also a chance for Takei to do some Trekkian time-travel between World War II and today, as family patriarch then and hot WWII grunt Telly Leung now. Gene would have loved it.
Following, make it Takei time with some favorite looks and locations on George’s journey to Broadway, where The New York Times says he’s “warmly touching.” Oh my.
1. Takei was about this age, and in this town, when he was packed off from Salinas, CA to relocation centers for the duration of World War II.
2. Heart Mountain in Wyoming.
3. A dance in the gym.
4. More than a few hotties among the 442nd.
5. Takei played with John Wayne in The Green Berets around the same time Star Trek started.
6. Then it was all Sulu, all the time.
7. Sulu had more than his share of I’m crazy! moments, which led to ripping off clothes, which was not.
8. The classically-trained actor gave us lots of looks from the helm: Intense.
11. I’m not buying it.
12. In the ’70s, Sulu was animated.
13. Or attending Trekkie events.
14. Or playing a Falcon model on the original Hawaii 5-0.
15. He played a bootlegger on the update with handsome and rippling Daniel Dae Kim.
16. After Takei came out in 2005, he got a second wind and an Archie comics cover with GBF Kevin Keller.
17. Also a documentary called To Be Takei.
18. In Allegiance, he’s grandfatherly with Lea Solanga.
19. And the older version of Telly Leung, pictured center with the original Old Globe cast in San Diego.
20. Telly was a Warbler on Glee.
21. And is dressed historically accurately under the uniform.
22. Congratulations, George, and welcome to Broadway.
23. Everyone’s rooting for you!
Learn more about the history behind Allegiance here.