The 2014 – 2015 theater season was apparently the one which finally brought forward new musicals inspired by personal experiences. First George Takei opened Allegiance and then Sting opened The Last Ship. Allegiance did, however, preview in San Diego at The Old Globe during 2012 before planning to head to the big white way while The Last Ship previewed in Chicago and then headed to Broadway all in 2014. Despite a possible difference in their approach, both shows share the commonality of being based upon life experiences of those that have starred in them.
Allegiance sprang forth from George Takei’s recount of personal experiences as a child in the internment camp of America. Set during the Japanese American internment period during World War II, it follows the story of the Kimura family over the weeks and years post Pearl Harbor. The family is relocated from their farm in Salinas, California to rural Wyoming as they are sequestered in the Heart Mountain internment camp. Historically gut wrenching and emotionally consuming, Allegiance might have found their initial ticket sales to be just as much of a struggle as The Last Ship experienced.
Telling the story of the dedicated community encased in the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend and their change of fate with the closure of the town’s shipyard, Sting coupled inspiration from his 1991 album The Soul Cages and his own childhood experiences to bring the story to life on stage in The Last Ship. Being a diehard fan of Sting’s music, I was drawn to Chicago to see the show while it was in previews and found myself immediately emotionally involved in the storyline of the show. It’s a shame to see the show struggled with ticket sales as audiences who actually did see it raved about it.
It used to not be often that the curtain opened on new show and so I had hoped to see both shows succeed as we headed into 2015. Amercian Idiot and Avenue Q are shows that proved to have a dedicated following and successful ticket sales, but struggled getting up off the ground when they debuted as well so I crossed my fingers and hoped that both Allegiance and The Last Ship would find themselves in the same category. Unfortunately, The Last Ship closed before the season was over much to my dismay. Sting did step into a secondary role in hopes of increasing ticket sales, but it wasn’t enough to keep it afloat.
I don’t regret us making the trip to Chicago to see it The Last Ship in previews, but I will regret not making the trip to New York to see how it had changed by the time it hit Broadway. Now that it’s closed I won’t have the opportunity to once again be transported to Wallsend and engulfed in music that has become such a big part of my life. I highly urge you to take a chance on new shows when they premiere otherwise I’ll guarantee you’ll miss out on a priceless memory.