BWW Interview: Lorenzo Thione Opens Up About His 7-Year Journey with Broadway-Bound ALLEGIANCE
Allegiance, a new musical inspired by a true-life story, starring George Takei, is coming to Broadway, also staring Lea Salonga and Telly Leung. Previews begin on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 with opening night set for Sunday, November 8, 2015 at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street). The company is busy getting ready to bring the show to Broadway, and producer/co-book writer Lorenzo Thione recently chatted with BroadwayWorld about the process.
Thione told BroadwayWorld's Richard Ridge:
I'm incredibly excited to be bringing Allegiance to Broadway. It's one of those things that I have dedicated seven years of my life to the idea and vision and story that emerged from a completely random encounter between me and George Takei seven years ago. Everything from that moment has taken us to where we are today. Through readings, workshops, through our world premiere out in San Diego a couple of years ago to the pain staking process of finding a home on Broadway, which seemed like it was never going to happen, but it really did and we are coming to Broadway October 6th.
And to have Lea Salonga! She has become a true part of our family, of my family, just like George. She has blessed us with deciding to work on this show from day one. She was part of our very first reading at The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles in 2009 and through every single change and every single rewrite. Her character has changed names, has changed families, all of her songs are different. She has one song left from the original score that she sang back then to today but she stuck with it. She fell in love with the people, she fell in love with the story, she fell in love with the importance of how this story that we are telling It falls into the larger context of where we are as a nation, as where we are as an industry- Broadway and everything else, and I think she blessed us with the decision of coming back to Broadway in her highly anticipated return after 14 - 15 years since 'Flower Drum Song' and originating a new role on Broadway since Miss. Saigon. It's very, very exciting. And I know she is to0.What has kept me going through the ups and downs of "Is this ever going to happen?'" is how the show has touched people. I have met literally so many people that have attended our early readings, who have encouraged us to keep going forward. But most importantly, the thousands of people that have seen the show in San Diego in it's world premiere... I really didn't understand how much it would touch people. I remember people walking up to me, and these were not Japanese people, but white Caucasians who were telling me, 'Thank you for telling the story of my family," and I didn't really understand that the story we were telling might be about this specific group of people, but it's such a universal story about family, about love and about forgiveness.
This one woman came to me and said, "I haven't spoken to my sister in 35 years and tonight after seeing this show I'm calling her" That is the kind of impact of touching people that I am so incredibly emotionally excited about being able to bring to Broadway and beyond.
As previously announced, Allegiance has a book by Marc Acito with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo. Helming the production is Olivier Award nominee Stafford Arima (London's Ragtime, Off-Broadway's Bare, Carrie, Altar Boyz).
The cast is as follows: George Takei as Sam Kimura/Ojii San; Lea Salonga as Kei Kimura; Telly Leung as Sammy Kimura; Christopheren Nomura as Tatsuo Kimura; Michael K. Lee as Frankie Suzuki; Katie Rose Clarke as Hannah Campbell and Greg Watanabe as Mike Masaoka. The ensemble will feature Aaron J. Albano, Belinda Allyn, Marcus Choi, Janelle Dote, Dan Horn, Owen Johnston, Darren Lee, Manna Nichols, Autumn Ogawa, Rumi Oyama, Momoko Sugai, Cary Tedder, Elena Wang , Scott Watanabe and Scott Wise.
Allegiance is inspired by Takei's true-life story. Traversing the lush California heartland, the windswept prairies of Wyoming and the battlefields of war-torn Europe, Allegiance tells the multi-generational tale of deep family loyalty, romance, humor, optimism and unparalleled heroism in the face of fear and prejudice against Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Photo Credit: Lia Chang