Q&A with ETHAN LE PHONG (“Sammy Kimura”)

What inspired you to work on Allegiance?

ETHAN LE PHONG: I have heard about Allegiance since it debuted in San Diego but finally had the chance to see it in previews on Broadway. I was never available to audition for these productions until EWP’s season was announced. I was drawn to the Kimuras’ storyline that was woven with the history of WWII.

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

ETHAN LE PHONG: I have learned so much from watching and sharing the stage with each and every one of the cast members. There are no weak links, and everyone is so important in this story. I have a richer understanding of this dark period of American history that isn’t talked about much. As an actor, I’m allowed to experience so many emotional highs and tragic lows within this play. We go IN, as they say.

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?

ETHAN LE PHONG: We can only pray that history doesn’t repeat itself. To understand that yes, this happened in American history, but we shouldn’t live with guilt but learn from it. In the end, we hope that love leads to forgiveness.

What was it like working with George Takei?

ETHAN LE PHONG: George is our biggest fan and vice versa. A gentleman in every way, he is truly dedicated in making sure everyone is doing their best. He’s our grandfather!

(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.

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

ETHAN LE PHONG: Food! There is always talk of food. We love to eat and there is always some sort of treat in the green room

[inside the Aratani Theatre] to get us through the show.