As is my wont we continued our annual tradition of seeing a Broadway show while in New York City for Thanksgiving. In past years I’ve known exactly what I wanted to see, but this year there wasn’t anything I was super excited about that I hadn’t already seen. There’s a bunch of stuff opening in the spring that I’m looking forward to, but this winter felt like slim pickings on new shows.
I finally debating between seeing Something Rotten and Allegiance. I love me some Christian Borle, who is starring in Something Rotten but this show strikes me as something I’ll eventually see when it tours and I won’t feel like I missed out on anything not seeing it on Broadway. Eventually though it really came down to being able to get better seats for the same price to Allegiance.
Allegiance is inspired by the life of George Takei’s family, who were sent to Japanese internment camps during World War II. He stars in the show as the grandfather and the older version of Sam (his grandson). Lea Salonga stars as Sam’s sister Kei who he eventually becomes estranged from during their time in the camps. You may know Salonga as the singing voice of Jasmine in the Disney movie Aladdin. The chance to see her was also one of the things that was tipping me towards seeing Allegiance over Something Rotten.
The show itself was okay. There was a love story between Sam and a white nurse working in the camp named Hannah that felt kind of forced and all the songs revolving around it pulled me out of what felt like the real story. I get the desire to want to add some levity to a show that is about a difficult subject, but they had some lighter, more amusing songs that seemed to fit better with the major thrust of the show than I felt the love songs did.
Although it wasn’t one of my favorite Broadways shows I agree with my husband in that I’m glad it’s something that was made. There were far more Asian people in the audience than I have ever seen at a Broadway show before. I think it’s great that it is drawing an audience that might not normally go to a Broadway show, and that there is a show appealing to a more diverse audience.
It’s also obviously about an important part of our country’s history that I don’t think a lot of people even know about. I’m a well educated person and I’m not entirely sure that I ever learned about Japanese internment camps prior to being in college. In light of recent events I’m not entirely sure we’ve learned from our history and I fear that we aren’t as far from repeating it as I would like to think. Getting this story out there hopefully will make some people stop and think.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year for Broadway and the theatre had more empty seats than I’ve ever seen, so I fear this show may not have a long run. Hopefully it impacts the people who do get the chance to see it while it’s running and perhaps even more if it eventually tours.