George Takei and Lea Salonga Conclude Performances on Broadway
This past week, the new musical Allegiance concluded performances at the Longacre Theatre. The show had been playing since it began previews on October 6, 2015, and its official opening night took place on November 8, 2015. At the time of closing, the show had played 37 preview performances and 113 regular performances. Allegiance has a book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione, with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo. It was directed by Stafford Arima, and choreographed by Andrew Palermo. The show was developed in collaboration with its star, George Takei, whose personal family history was the original inspiration for the development of this musical. In fact, Takei and his husband were sitting next to the writers, who are also the producers, at the theatre two nights in a row, when they began talking. Takei was reacting very emotionally to the play they saw, In the Heights, the previous piece by the creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda. When asked why he was reacting so strongly, Takei began talking about his family history being sent to Japanese internment camps in World War II. Takei since has become a very well-known actor, mostly through his appearances in the Star Trek series. In taking on the lead role in Allegiance, Takei appeared alongside actors include Lea Salonga (Flower Drum Song, Miss Saigon), and Telly Leung (“Glee”).
Upon the show’s opening, its reviews were an unfortunate disappointment. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times admired its attempt to illuminate a worthwhile period in American history, and yet remarked that it failed to entertain. Jeremy Gerard from Deadline called the musical somewhat ungainly, although admitting it had impressive complexity and moments of beauty and passion. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter was likewise on the fence, enjoying the powerful sentiments of knowing that Takei himself experienced similar moments, but remaining unconvinced that the show is suitable to the musical genre. Of the major critics, only Robert Kahn of NBC New York was pleased with the show, moved by its message of standing one’s ground in the more difficult moments in life. With this poor critical response, the box office was not inspired to reach great heights. Throughout the run, the highest weekly gross was in fact the first week of previews, when it brought in $608,241, representing 63.36% of its gross potential. However, the average percentage reached of gross potential throughout the whole run was 49.52%, with grosses generally remaining in the $400,000 range.
A National Tour and International Productions Planned
Like any new musical, a failure on Broadway is not the end of the story. Allegiance has plans to implement a national tour in the United States, as well as to take the tale abroad to international venues. While the story did not sit well with critics in New York, it is possible that regional theatres and other cultural demographics might respond more positively. Also, a new production is always an opportunity for certain changes in story and approach, so there is still hope that the show will continue to move and educate audiences around the world. Although the Broadway production closed at a financial loss, these further productions will create opportunities for investors to make back more of their money, even if the show is still a long way off from entering profits.
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