Legendary TV and film star George Takei will make his London stage debut next year in the U.K. premiere of his Broadway musical “George Takei’s Allegiance” at Charing Cross Theatre from Jan. 7 to April 8.
The musical is based on the true childhood experiences of Takei, the original and beloved Mr. Sulu from “Star Trek,” film and television star, activist and social media icon.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, California-born Takei and his family were placed behind the barbed-wire enclosures of U.S. incarceration camps along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans. He spent years of his childhood at Camp Rohwer in the swamps of Arkansas and at wind-swept Camp Tule Lake in Northern California. At the end of the war, Takei’s family returned to their native Los Angeles.
Inspired by this difficult chapter of American history, Takei developed “Allegiance,” an epic story of love and heroism in which he starred alongside Tony Award winner Lea Salonga and Telly Leung in its record-breaking world premiere at the Old Globe
Theatre in San Diego in 2012. The show won multiple awards and was followed by a Broadway run in 2015-2016 at the Longacre Theatre.
After closing on Broadway, the subsequent film of the original Broadway production premiered in movie theatres across North America through Fathom Events, breaking previous records for the highest-grossing performing arts cinema event. The film has received multiple encore cinema events in the U.S. and Canada with additional international theatrical releases in Japan and South Korea.
Now “Allegiance” gets a new and more intimate production for the U.K., conceived specifically for the Off West End space at Charing Cross Theatre, directed and choreographed by Tara Overfield Wilkinson (director, “Little Shop of Horrors” U.K. tour, associate director/choreographer of “Come From Away” U.K.). Joining Takei will be his Broadway co-star Leung.
Best known to U.K. audiences as Wes the Warbler on TV’s “Glee” and to Broadway audiences for he title role in “Aladdin,” Leung has also appeared in Broadway and touring productions of “Flower Drum Song,” “Pacific Overtures,” “Wicked” (original Chicago company) and “Rent” (at the Hollywood Bowl, directed by Neil Patrick Harris).
“George Takei’s Allegiance” tells the moving story of Sam Kimura (Takei) as he is transported back nearly six decades to when his younger self (Leung) and his sister Kei fought to stay connected to their heritage, their family and themselves after Japanese Americans were wrongfully imprisoned during World War II. A powerful story told with great resonance and intimacy, the musical explores the ties that bind us, the struggle to persevere and the overwhelming power of forgiveness and, most especially, love.
“George Takei’s Allegiance” has a book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione with music and lyrics by Kuo.
“‘Allegiance’ is a story from America’s past, but it has great relevance today,” Takei said. “Once again, fascism is on the march, and whole communities are under attack. Again, the freedoms so many take for granted are gravely imperiled. ‘Allegiance’ is my legacy. We must learn the lessons of our past so that we may never repeat them. That’s why we tell our story. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life to ensuring we collectively honor the commitment, ‘Never again.’”
This newly reconceived U.K. production will also feature musical supervision and
orchestrations by Andrew Hilton and Charlie Ingles, lighting design by Nic Farman, sound design by Chris Whybrow and casting by Sarah Leung Casting. Further casting and creative team to be announced. Produced by Sing Out, Louise! Productions. General management by Something For the Weekend.
Tickets range from £20-£80 and may be purchased at AllegianceMusical.com or by calling the Charing Cross Box Office at 0844-493-0650.
Facebook – @allegiancemusical
Twitter/Instagram – @allegiancebway
About George Takei
Takei is best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the acclaimed television and film series “Star Trek.” He is an actor, civil rights activist, social media mega-power, and New York Times bestselling author. He originated the roles of Sam Kimura and Ojii-Chan in “Allegiance” and was the subject of “To Be Takei,” a documentary on his life and career.
Takei’s acting career has spanned more than six decades, with more than 40 feature films and hundreds of TV guest-starring roles to his credit. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Actors’ Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
A community activist, Takei is chairman emeritus and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum. In recognition of his contribution to Japan-U.S. relations, in 2004, he was conferred with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, by the emperor of Japan. Takei formerly served as chair of the Council of Governors of East West Players, the foremost Asian Pacific American theatre in the U.S. He was a member of the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation Board of Directors and served on the board of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission under President Bill Clinton.
With Takei’s expansion into social media, interest in his personal life grew. In January 2014, “To Be Takei,” a documentary by Jennifer M. Kroot, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival that January, and was later released in select cinemas across North America.
Among his many accomplishments is a Grammy nomination Takei shared with Leonard Nimoy, in 1987, in the Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Recording category. He received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1986. And in 1991, Takei left his signature and hand print, in cement, in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
In addition to “Allegiance,” Takei’s theatrical credits include “Undertow,” winner of the Scotsman First Award at the Edinburgh Festival, and “The Wash,” written by Philip Kan Gotanda and presented in New York at the Manhattan Theater Club and in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum. He performed in “Year of the Dragon” at the American Place Theater in New York and in “Fly Blackbird” at the Billy Rose Theater in New York and the Metro Theater in Los Angeles.
In the U.K., Takei performed in a musical version of “Snow White” at the Dome Theatre, Brighton; he was the genie in “Aladdin” at the Hexagon Theatre, Reading; and he was the Emperor of China in “Aladdin” at the Central Theatre, Chatham. In 2017, Takei starred in a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures,” directed by John Doyle, at Classic Stage Company in New York City.
Takei is well known to longtime fans of ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” He participated in the eighth season of the series, entering camp on the 16th of November 2008 and coming out 21 days later in third place, losing to runner-up Martina Navratilova and winner Joe Swash.
As an author, Takei’s autobiography, “To the Stars,” was published in 1994; and in 2012 and 2013 he published “Oh Myyy! There Goes the Internet” and its sequel, “Lions and Tigers and Bears: The Internet Strikes Back.” The latter two books explored his forays on social media and the Internet, earning placement on the Amazon e-book and paperback best-seller lists in 2012 and 2013, respectively. His Eisner Award-winning and New York Times bestselling graphic memoir “They Called Us Enemy” was released in July 2019.
Takei’s social media dominance is best denoted by his numerous awards. Mashable.com in 2012 named him a “social media superstar” on Facebook, where he currently has over 19.6 million combined fans. In 2013, Takei won the Shorty Award for Distinguished Achievement in Internet Culture. He has 3.4 million followers on Twitter, and posts on various social media platforms. He expanded his Internet presence with the 2015 YouTube series “It Takeis Two,” starring with husband Brad Takei. In 2015, Cosmopolitan magazine named Takei “One of the Internet’s 50 Most Fascinating People.”
Takei and his husband were married at the Japanese American National Museum on Sept. 14, 2008. The Takeis reside in Los Angeles.
Takei received both bachelor and master of arts degrees from UCLA (’60, ’64). In June 2019, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award in Theater from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT). In June 2016, California State University, Los Angeles, presented Takei with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
About Telly Leung
Leung is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. His credits include Broadway’s “Godspell,” “Rent” (final Broadway company), Boq in “Wicked,” “Pacific Overtures” and “Flower Drum Song.” TV audiences know him as Wes, a member of the Dalton Academy Warblers, in Fox’s hit show “Glee.”
Off-Broadway, he played Pete/Ran Feng in Manhattan Theater Club’s “World of Extreme Happiness.” Regionally, he starred alongside Takei and Lea Salonga in the world premiere of “Allegiance” at the Old Globe Theater. He has also appeared at Pittsburgh CLO, the MUNY, and Philadelphia Theater Company.
In concert, he has performed to sold-out houses all over the U.S. at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Hollywood Bowl, The Magic Castle, San Francisco’s Feinstein’s at The Nikko Hotel, NYC’s 54 Below and San Diego’s Diversionary Theater, as well as London’s Hippodrome Casino and Tokyo’s La Donna.
His first solo CD, “I’ll Cover You,” is available on The Yellow sound label. He is also the producer of a musical short film, “Grind,” starring Anthony Rapp (www.grindshortfilm.com). He holds a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University.
For more information, check out www.tellyleung.com.