Marc Acito, Jay Kuo & Lorenzo Thione (Book); Jay Kuo (Music & Lyrics)
Palo Alto Players
With only the clothes on their backs and one tightly clutched suitcase each, shock-faced people stand shoulder-to-shoulder while riding in a cattle car to a location unknown – a destination surrounded by barbed wire in a desolate area reeking of dust and lacking in basic necessities. As they arrive, families separate as men are sent to the left with women to the right; and all – young and old – are made to strip to their underwear. The year is 1942; but the location is not Nazi-occupied Europe, nor the people, Jews. These are American citizens who have lost all property and freedom, now labeled by their government as “4C Aliens” and all considered as potential enemies. After all, as one soldier tells them, “A Jap is a Jap.”
In the midst of this scene this is almost too difficult to watch, one man sings in a proud, defiant voice: “We are Americans; there is nothing to discuss. Then who will speak for us?”
After a chance meeting with famed actor and gay activist George Takei and hearing of his and his family’s experience at such a Japanese internment camp during World War II, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione decided to join forces with Marc Acito to write a musical that speaks loudly and boldly with both heart and humor of this shameful period in American history that affected over 12,000 Japanese American citizens. Allegiance tells one family’s story as three generations are suddenly uprooted from their comfortable Salinas, California farm and locked up like prisoners in barren, wooden buildings in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. With a mostly Asian cast of twenty exceptionally talented actors, an orchestra of seven, and a creative team extraordinaire, Palo Alto Players presents a flawlessly executed, musically uplifting, and deeply moving Allegiance that is not-to-be-missed.
For the rest of my review, please continue to Talkin’ Broadway.
Rating: 5-E, MUST-SEE
A TheatreEddys Best Bet Production
Allegiance continues in live performances through May 8, 2022 in production by Palo Alto Players at Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Tickets are available online at http://paplayers.org . Virtual, online viewing of a live, filmed performance will be available May 5-May 8.
Photo Credit: Scott Lasky