A few years ago, I had the opportunity to support one of those crowd-funded projects that seem to be ever-more popular these days. Sure, many of them sound cool, but this one in particular caught my eye.
Actor and activist George Takei (you may remember him from the original Star Trek series) was raising funds for a musical. The topic was a bit unconventional for your typical Broadway production – Takei hoped to bring to the stage the story of Japanese-Americans and their internment during World War II. Takei himself was an internee, forced to leave his home at the age of five and join his family in an internment camp for the duration of the war, so the project was a very personal endeavor.
The project was funded and the show was made. I heard it enjoyed a run on Broadway in early 2016 for a few months, but I never expected I’d have the chance to see it.
Then, in a one-night showing in December, the musical was shown at select theaters. It was essentially a film of the musical, though professionally done (not in the “guy secretly videotapes musical to sell on black market” kind of way 🙂 ) and I was thrilled to grab a ticket to a local showing.
The story was riveting – sad, hopeful, angering, uplifting. The actors were impeccable in their roles – Takei himself played an elderly grandfather while younger actors Lea Salonga (famous for lending several Disney princesses her singing voice) and Telly Leung truly shone as two siblings caught between differing ideals. Appropriately, the musical doesn’t just deal with one group’s viewpoint; rather, a host of opinions and emotions are explored throughout the story line. The songs are memorable and there’s even a smattering of Japanese included. At the end – past the credits – there is a documentary section where both Takei and a few of the other actors talk about the historical importance of the show.
Why am I telling you all this? Because there will be one more encore performance on February 19th and I urge you ALL to go see it. History is not always uplifting or easy to bear witness to, but it’s incredibly important that stories like this are told. Check the link here for information on theaters and tickets.