Q&A with ELENA WANG (“Kei Kimura”)

What inspired you to work on Allegiance?

ELENA WANG: Fate got me aligned with the Broadway production. How it all happened is shown in Episode 2 of George Takei’s ‘Trek to Broadway’. This was also after I decided to leave musical theatre – so this show means everything, as it changed my life. The fact that it is a story that is so relevant today puts into perspective that I was meant to be a part of this history by giving a voice to those that were incarcerated.

What were some of the most rewarding aspects of working on this production?

ELENA WANG: The most rewarding part is when we see audiences absolutely moved by this show. When we see the effects it has on people who were incarcerated or who have relatives that were a part of this history, it reminds me why we tell this story everyday.

(L-R) Scott Watanabe as Tatsuo Kimura, George Takei as Ojii-chan, Jordan Goodsell as Hakujin, Elena Wang as Kei Kimura, and Ethan Le Phong as Sammy Kimura in the Los Angeles premiere of Allegiance starring George Takei at the Aratani Theatre, co-produced by East West Players and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. Photo by Michael Lamont.

Given the recent political climate, Allegiance feels astutely current in its examination of race, discrimination, and patriotism. What do you hope people can take away from watching this musical?

ELENA WANG: I want them to walk away realizing history should not repeat itself. In the end, love, resolve and inclusion prevails. Even if we talk about Japanese Americans and how they felt just as American as any other American, it speaks volumes about other diversities – whether it’s race, or someone with disability or gender – we are ONE FAMILY.

What was it like working with George Takei?

ELENA WANG: George is one of the kindest people I know. He is pure love, and I’ve had the privilege to work with him the last couple of years. He has become a grandfather figure and both him and Brad are family. They are generous and loving and for that I’m so grateful. As an actor he is always 100% committed – it’s like being in a masterclass watching him work. There is no ‘marking’ with George, even in rehearsal. If he is in the scene, he is in the scene. And what a resource it is to have him in this production.

(L-R) Ethan Le Phong as Sammy Kimura, George Takei as Ojii-chan, Scott Watanabe as Tatsuo Kimura, and Elena Wang as Kei Kimura in the Los Angeles premiere of Allegiance starring George Takei at the Aratani Theatre, co-produced by East West Players and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. Photo by Michael Lamont.