My brothers, my friends, even my parents - they have been gushing to me about "that one musical with that one guy from Star Trek, who also has that one girl whose last name kinda sounds like Salami, and that Asian guy from Glee." Also known as Allegiance.
Reading the description on the site I thought this was going to be a happy-go-lucky story of heroism and family love. What I wasn't expecting was that it was darker and deeper. The story is gripping and a bit controversial - it pokes at the U.S. for this horrific part of history that my history textbook in school chose to avoid. Yeah, we read about Pearl Harbor and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but not the Japanese Internment Camps that were right here in America! Did you know that? I bet you didn't. This is a musical that brings the light and airy feel of a singing and dancing extravaganza but mixes it with a dark part of U.S. history.
Allegiance brought me to see it because of the amazing cast and story, but it left me with a flurry of open-ended big questions. Questions I wouldn’t usually be willing to answer or ponder on a Thursday night walking through the dense crowd in Times Square. But there I was -- 10:30pm, walking through the hustle and bustle of that mega tourist attraction, carrying two heavy shoulder bags, the intense light pollution burning my eyes, in my face are fans of George Takei, Lea Salonga and Telly Leung, and my thoughts are clouded with questions and fragmented answers.
War makes things difficult. Hard decisions must be made and we often forget that it is usually men and women who make them. It’s difficult to wrap my head around the fact that there are a group of people who make the biggest and hardest decisions for us all, for this country. How do you ensure freedom? How do you deal with all of the factors that directly effect it? How do you deal with all the factors that are directly effected by it? It's mind-boggling to think about the numerous answers to these questions and what’s worse, there are no right or wrong answers. There cannot possibly be.
One of the biggest factors that is effected by war is the idea of right and wrong. The biggest question I was faced with through this musical - is it wrong to fight for what YOU believe is right? I felt like in this musical I was ushered to believe that Sam Kimura’s decision to fight for the United States was the right thing to do. But I felt myself switching between Frankie Suzuki’s decision to start a rebel alliance and Sam Kimura’s decision to fight for the U.S. At different parts I chose different sides. While I was watching, I had no clear idea who was right, and right now while I’m writing this I still have no idea.
I felt for Sam Kimura. But I’ll admit, I don’t understand him. I didn’t understand where that patriotism came from, even when things got hard and the country didn’t deserve his overflowing patriotism he seemed to just keep giving. Even when the idea of “doing the right thing” was so clouded he knew that the best way to get through the hardest of times was by fighting for the country he loved, lived and believed in. I like to think that Sam viewed the U.S like a loving parent views a misbehaving and rebellious teenager. He knew what it was doing was wrong but through patience, understanding, love, and time the country reevaluated itself and changed. The strength Sam showed was something I couldn’t even imagine to have, even a small percentage of, for myself.
And then there was Frankie Suzuki. Now this is a man I can understand. Everything was taken from him - from his education, to his reputation, to his home, and even his family. It’s no wonder he has nothing but hate, cynicism, and rebellious blood within him. If I were to be in his shoes I would have reacted the same exact way. Why should I sacrifice my life for a country that doesn’t care for it in the first place? Why should I help those who had once spit on me? In my eyes, Frankie’s path is probably the one a normal man or woman would have taken if they were faced with the same situation. Now that being said, it doesn’t mean Frankie is not strong for choosing to fight against and not with - because he too fought for what he believed was the right thing to do even though the universe was fighting against him.
How do you even begin to dictate which path was the right one to take? Both had their rough moments, both had their wonderful moments and both ended with them in San Francisco. Sam fought a war, saw his men die, achieved fame and respect, and gained the love from people all across the world. Frankie fought a war as well, saw his friends get taken away, achieved fame and respect, and gained the love from his very own family. We can see that even though both paths were very different, they ended relatively the same. But, this is a musical. In real life we won’t have the pleasure to see everything laid out so neatly in front of us. Every day we make decisions and we will never know which will drastically change our lives. What if today I decided to study for my midterms instead of starting a new project? What if I decided to go out instead of stay home today? We miss a world full of opportunities and chance encounters just on the choices we make or choose not to make. I don't know about you but that thought sends shivers down my body.
There are two words that come to mind when I think about this musical and they are thought provoking. I’m the type of person who partakes in a lot of introspection so I love watching something like this unfold before my eyes. As the show was happening, my mind was churning with questions that I can never truly have answers for. So I’m just going to forward some of them and ask you these questions instead.
What does it mean to do the right thing?
How do you know you’re doing the right thing?
What do you do if there is no distinct right or wrong answer?