Broadway production (2015)
Allegiance The Musical - Synopsis
An aged World War II veteran, Sam Kimura, prepares for a Pearl Harbor anniversary ceremony. A woman arrives to inform him that his estranged sister Kei has died, and that she is Kei's executor. She gives Sam an envelope and tells him that the funeral is to be held later that afternoon. Angered by the opening of his old family wounds after nearly 60 years of estrangement, he berates his once-beloved sister for not leaving him in peace. Kei's ghost informs Sam that she couldn't rest in peace without making one last attempt to reconnect with him.
It is 1941, and Sammy is a newly elected class president who dreams of "Going Places", like college and high political office. His widower father Tatsuo, and grandfather Ojii-chan, own a farm in Salinas, California. Sammy adores his older sister Kei, who has postponed her own dreams to help raise him. Tatsuo is always pushing Sammy to be better and reach his potential. Sammy believes that Tatsuo blames Sammy for his wife's death in childbirth. After the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in December, the US government fears that Japanese-Americans might be loyal to the Empire of Japan. Nearly all of the Japanese-Americans in the Western US are incarcerated in internment camps. Sammy's family is forced to sell their beautiful farm for a small price and sent to the bleak Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.
While in this camp, and against his father's wishes, Sammy joins with Mike Masaoka, head of the Japanese American Citizens League, which cooperates with the authorities to identify "disloyal" Japanese. When his grandfather, Ojii-chan, becomes sick, Sammy goes to see the white Quaker volunteer nurse at the camp, Hannah, for some cough syrup. She tells him it is only for the staff, but Sammy is persuasive, and she gives him the medication. The two begin a relationship that causes additional tensions, because interracial marriage with Hannah would be illegal. Tatsuo is not inclined to cooperate. He is sent to a brutal prison for refusing to swear his allegiance by answering "yes" on an unjustly-worded loyalty questionnaire. Sammy's sister Kei falls in love with a draft resistance leader, Frankie Suzuki, and she also joins the resisters advocating for the rights of her people.
Masaoka manages to obtain Washington's permission for the Japanese-Americans to enlist in US armed forces, but only if they take on the most dangerous assignments in the war in Italy. Eager to prove his loyalty, Sammy enlists in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a US Army unit consisting of American-born sons of Japanese immigrants, and he fights bravely in Europe. He leads fellow Nisei on a suicide mission, in which the majority of the soldiers are killed. While in prison, Tatsuo is given a copy of Life magazine that trumpets Sammy's bravery in combat, and is told that he was only let out of his cell because of his son's actions.
Meanwhile, Kei and Frankie, who are still in love, help lead the resistance. Eventually, Frankie's scuffles with a military policeman lead to Hannah's accidental and fatal shooting. Grandpa Ojii-chan, who has managed to grow a crop of vegetables in the mountain's rough terrain, dies peacefully while in his garden. After the war, Sammy learns that Frankie and Kei, now married, have a daughter named Hanako (after nurse Hannah). Aghast at this, he confronts Tatsuo, saying that Frankie was the son he always wanted. Already furious at Kei and Frankie, he learns of Hannah's death at Heart Mountain and blames Kei and Frankie. He then walks away from his family for a job in Washington that Masaoka had offered him after discharge. Kei argues with Sammy, calling him a coward for leaving his family. She tries to stop him, but only manages to tear the Purple Heart off of his uniform.
Back in the present day, Sam attends Kei's funeral, and Kei's executor thanks him for attending. Sam opens the envelope and finds a posthumous bequest from Kei: the Life magazine featuring Sammy's exploits that Tatsuo had kept since his release from prison. The executor then says that her mother wanted to give Sam something else, and she hands him his old Purple Heart medal. He then realizes that the executor is his niece Hanako. He breaks down, aware that he has a chance to forgive and to share in the love and compassion of his family.
Read more: Allegiance the Musical Lyrics