PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With George Takei, the "Star Trek" Veteran Now Pledging Allegiance in New Musical

By Robert Simonson
20 Aug 2012

Allegiance co-stars Telly Leung and Allie Trimm
Photo by Henry DiRocco

Did he broach the idea then that you might be involved in the show?
GT: I told him I had written an autobiography and the first third deals with my childhood in the internment camps. He said, "A musical is a much more powerful way of reaching the mind and the heart, and that's the best way to communicate an issue as complex as the internment camps." And being a musical theatre fan, I agreed with him. We began the idea of making a musical with what I shared with them that night in New York.

The story of the musical takes place in your character's mind, yes?
GT: That's correct.

Do you sing in the show?
GT: I have a song with Lea Salonga. An undreamed-of opportunity! We saw Miss Saigon in London at the Drury Lane way back when. We go to London for theatre, as well.

You are a real theatre fan, aren't you? When's the last time you were on stage?
GT: The last time I was on stage was two years ago in Chatham, England. I do a lot of plays in England. I'm the son of an Anglophile. I was born the year of George VI's coronation and so my father decided to name me after English royalty. My brother was, too. When he was born, he was round and fat and roly-poly, as fat at Henry VIII. So guess what his name is? And I went to school in England as well.

Is your Allegiance character on stage all of the time or some of the time?
GT: I play two characters. I'm Sam, a veteran of the 442nd regiment, the all-Japanese-American unit. I book-end the memory that is the story. But within the memory, I play my own grandfather.

Do you draw on your father's experiences for your portrayals?
GT: I use my father's experience and I had other relatives who were imprisoned in camps or fought in the 442nd.