George Takei’s Allegiance Reviews ★★★

Reviews are in for George Takei’s Allegiance at the Charing Cross Theatre in London.

The show stars Star Trek legend, activist and Broadway star George Takei, who makes his West End debut in the production, which is inspired by his own WW2 experience in a US concentration camp.

Alongside Takei, the cast includes Telly Leung (Broadway’s Aladdin and TV’s ‘Glee’) and Aynrand Ferrer, who has just played the alternate Kim in ‘Miss Saigon’ in Vienna, plus Iroy Abesamis, Mark Anderson, Masashi Fujimoto, Megan Gardiner, Raiko Gohara, Eu Jin Hwang, Hana Ichijo, Misa Koide, Patrick Munday, Rachel Jayne Picar, Sario Solomon, Joy Tan, and Iverson Yabut.

Directed and choreographed by Tara Overfield Wilkinson (Little Shop of Horrors, Come From Away), George Takei’s Allegiance has a book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo. Musical supervision and orchestrations will be by Andrew Hilton and Charlie Ingles, set and costume design by Mayou Trikerioti, lighting design by Nic Farman, sound design by Chris Whybrow and casting by Sarah Leung Casting. The Musical director is Amy Hsu, associate director Kirsty Malpass, associate choreographer Misa Koide and assistant musical director Beth Jerem.

George Takei’s Allegiance runs at Charing Cross Theatre London until 8 April 2023.

Read reviews below from the Telegraph, Evening Standard, TimeOut and more.

More reviews to follow

Book tickets to George Takei’s Allegiance at Charing Cross Theatre in London

George Takei's Allegiance reviews

The Evening Standard

"It’s great to see the Star Trek icon in London"

"The show throws light on a slice of neglected history"

"Allegiance has a pleasing score and lyrics by Jay Kuo, its generic balladry enlivened with the odd comic or swing-inflected number, but without a single tune you might recall on the tube home. Kuo, Marc Acito and producer Lorenzo Thione also provide the by-the-numbers plot, stitching twin love stories and a skimpy exploration of masculinity into the historical issues."

"Leung and Gardiner are fine singers but Ferrer’s rich, tensile voice is the standout. It’s great that Kei is given as much weight in the story as Sam, but none of the characters has much of a personality."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Telegraph

"The Star Trek legend lights up the stage, but the child’s-eye view is missing"

"Inspired by his bitter wartime experience of Japanese-American camps, this musical sees the star shine yet has a crucial piece missing"

"It’s not just Takei’s celebrity that captivates; there’s a dignity and rare benign aura about him that means even when he’s shuffling about here and there, the picture of frailty (compounded by a plotline that sees Ojii-Chan needing medical treatment), he lights up the space around him... But his stellar presence oddly draws attention to what’s lacking. The whole affair is slickly directed and choreographed by Tara Overfield Wilkinson, and the many serviceable (if a touch overblown and overstated) numbers are well served by a cast that includes Telly Leung, who played Sam on Broadway. Yet the crucial kernel of Takei’s life-changing experience – being a child in a world turned upside down – is missing in action. And that feels like a major omission"

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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"‘Star Trek’ legend Takei stars in this sadly underpowered musical inspired by his own childhood experiences of a Japanese internment camp"

"George Takei was only five years old when the US government forced him, his family, and 120,000 other Japanese Americans into internment. His wartime experiences are the inspiration for what he calls his ‘legacy project’, the 2015 musical ‘Allegiance’, by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione. It is a dark and tragic story that needs teaching. But this overlong UK premiere production is limp and lacking in heart."

"Helmed by the Broadway star Telly Leung as Sam, the cast is left to carry a half-baked book. Aynrand Ferrer as Kei has a singing voice so seismic she manages to suffuse feeling into her underwritten role."

Anya Ryan, TimeOut
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The Stage

"Intense, busy production"

"Earnest if unbalanced musical illuminates a dark period of American history"

"The book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione fleshes out an engaging and often unexpectedly witty story that incorporates universal themes of generational conflict, loyalty and love."

"What the score lacks, however, is intimacy. There are big, punchy numbers throughout, delivered by a highly accomplished cast, but there’s barely a moment of reflection or self-doubt. Overfield Wilkinson matches the music with a restless traverse staging."

Paul Vale, The Stage
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The Times

"George Takei brings the spark to a sentimental journey"

"We first meet Sammy as an old man looking back six decades to those wartime years when the question of allegiance tore his family apart. He’s played with dignity and an angry spark by the 85-year-old Takei, dressed in uniform because it’s National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."

"The book, written by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione, is not particularly sophisticated, and neither are Kuo’s rousing Broadway-style ballads. But in the end it’s hard to resist the show’s heart-on-sleeve sentiment and the power of the real-life drama in its tale."

Debra Craine, The Times
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The Guardian

"Shocking history given musical uplift"

"The Star Trek actor appears in an epic story of Japanese Americans interned after Pearl Harbor but there is never enough emotional force"

"Given the importance of this appalling moment in US history and its resonance with the debates on immigration, identity and nationhood today, this production should carry enormous weight. That it does not is frustrating."

"Takei is charming in his part but these characters do not become individual or full-bodied enough. The show throws out song after song (music and lyrics by Kuo) and too many of them are unmemorable."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Financial Times

"A gripping musical about Japanese internment — review"

"It is a joy to see the Star Trek icon George Takei on the London stage. But the story he’s here to tell is a shameful one."

"The story is gripping and bowls along in Tara Overfield Wilkinson’s compact, pacy production on Mayou Trikerioti’s simple wooden set, evocative of a camp hut. The show is best when at its most acerbic. There are some witty lines — “I’m from Nebraska: dust is a food group” — and one of the standout songs, led by Patrick Munday’s excellent Frankie, is “Paradise”, a sarcastic number extolling the “virtues” of the camp. Telly Leung makes a strong, impassioned Sammy and Aynrand Ferrer is terrific as Kei, bringing the show to a stop with her superb solo “Higher”."

"But the piece is held back by its dual purposes. It’s telling a dark political story — and one that has broader resonance today, given the divisive use of patriotism and national identity. But it also conforms to many of the norms of the Broadway musical..."

Sarah Hemming, The Financial Times
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Daily Express

"The suffering of Japanese Americans after WWII"

"The dreadful treatment of Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor is well documented. But it still comes as a shock to hear stories from those who lived through the internment as "enemy aliens" at the time."

"Stuffed with generic show ballads and swing jazz numbers, plus two Japanese-influenced folk songs, the show wears its heart conspicuously on its sleeve. Snatches of humour balance tragic events but it never reaches deep enough inside the heart and soul of the characters to move us as it should. Takei is a substantial presence, however, and the performances of the largely Japanese cast are engaging throughout."

"Ultimately, it is an expiation of guilt arising from blind allegiance to his birth country and the effect on his family as well as a history lesson on the injustice of white Americans who leapt too quickly to bigotry and blame."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Daily Mail

"Oh my, Mr Sulu!"

"Allegiance is a wholesome musical about an unwholesome subject: the internment of Japanese-Americans in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor during World War II."

"Above all, it's a real treat to see Mr Sulu in the flesh: encased in a sort of Ready-Brek glow even after all these years. His show may be a belated and soft-centred reproof of war crimes, but it pulls off the unusual feat of mixing anger with schmaltz. Captain Kirk would be proud."

Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail
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📷 Main photo: George Takei's Allegiance at Charing Cross Theatre. Photo by Danny Kaan

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