Q&A with EYMARD CABLING (“Frankie Suzuki”)

What inspired you to work on Allegiance?

EYMARD CABLING: Being in a piece of theater that depicts a moment in history inspires me to be as truthful as I can be.

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

EYMARD CABLING: It is nice to know that Allegiance is now an added show to the repertoire of musical theater.  The reward doesn’t come with any prize or recognition. The reward is merely knowing that we have contributed to the story of Asian Americans and that we can hold our heads high knowing that we are a part of theater history.

(L-R) Miyuki Miyagi, Chad Takeda, Janelle Dote, Eymard Cabling (center) as Frankie Suzuki, Sharline Liu, Cesar Cipriano, and Grace Yoo performing “Paradise” 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?

EYMARD CABLING: I hope that people take away a sense of love and acceptance. That by learning from our past we can better our future. I hope Allegiance teaches people about our history. That no matter how dark it can be, there is still a light and a desire to move forward with dignity. There are many racial stereotypes out there, and I would hope that people tear down those walls and prejudices. That way, we can begin to accept each other as individuals.

What was it like working with George Takei?

EYMARD CABLING: Working with George Takei is truly a dream come true. His passion for Allegiance is what makes me want to do my best. His will and determination to tell his story comes across in rehearsals and on stage. His personal accounts of being interred in the relocation camps helps us transport ourselves to a time of hardship. And yet, he manages to stay so gracious and humble throughout the whole process. His conviction to make a difference in this world is so admirable, and his sincere curiosity about others makes it so gratifying to be in his presence every day.

(L-R) Eymard Cabling as Franki Suzuki and George Takei as Ojii-chan 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.

Allegiance is notable for being one of the few Asian American ensemble musical productions. What other stories from Asian American history would you like to see covered in future Broadway shows?

EYMARD CABLING: There have been the past hit Broadway shows like The King and I, Miss Saigon, Flower Drum Song, and Allegiance.  Just recently, having seen Vietgone at San Diego Rep, I am very hopeful that more Asian American stories will be told on stages of American theater. Here Lies Love was a wonderful hit off-Broadway and eventually moved to Seattle. I was a part of a show called The Romance of Magno Rubio about the migrant stoop laborers in California. There are so many ideas and historical events that are so moving and deal with crossing oceans to provide a better life for one’s family. Bombay Dreams is another musical where I think the music is so beautiful. Waterfall was another musical that I had the pleasure of being in that dealt with the status quo of Thailand during WWII. I would certainly love to see that musical go to Broadway with its score and orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, and book and lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire. More stories that I would love to see on the stage are that of the Chinese immigrants that helped construct a huge portion of the railroad system in the United States. Or any story that involves immigration policies and sacrifices that are endured by millions of families. The possibilities are endless.

Is there is anything people might not know about the show, its cast and crew that you’d like to share?

EYMARD CABLING: Food, revelry, camaraderie, laughter, tears, and support for one another have made this cast and crew so wonderful to work for. We hold energy circles right before the show begins, and when we are called to places, those who want to meet hold hands and say whatever they would like to get us revved up for the show. The amount of support and love with this cast is so special and something that I know I will already miss so much.