Q&A with NATALIE HOLT MACDONALD (“Hannah Campbell”)

What inspired you to work on Allegiance?

Honestly, I had no idea how special this show was going to be until I was already cast. I knew about the Broadway production and that George was still going to be a part of it, but it’s been so much more. Just the way Allegiance speaks to the Japanese American community is enough to inspire me in my work.

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

Oh goodness! Where do I begin? The most obvious, I suppose, is the incredible cast and creative team that I get to work with every day. The day I walked into our first rehearsal, I realized how high the bar was set. Every single person on the stage is so talented and an absolute joy to work with. My favorite part of the production though, is the story we get to tell. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of the Japanese Internment history awareness at a time when some of the people from that generation are still with us. Our cast has had the chance to speak to several people who actually lived in an internment camp. George is also one of those people, and it’s really amazing getting to spend so much time with him just to listen to his stories. The audience feedback is so rewarding as well. I have heard so much about how emotionally moved someone was throughout the show because of the hardships and triumphs and conflicts these people went through.

(L-R) George Takei as Sam Kimura, Miyaki Miyuki Miyagi as Peggy Maruyama (Nisei), Jordan Goodsell as Hakujin, Natalie Holt MacDonald as Hannah Campbell, and Cesar Cipriano as Ben Masaoka (Issei) / Johnny Goto 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 fells astutely current in its examination of race, discrimination, and patriotism. What do you hope people can take away from watching this musical?

I really hope people take away an awareness and acceptance of people who may look different than them or maybe come from a different background. I also really hope this musical encourages people to study our nation’s history: the good, the bad, and all of the sacrifices. So many have lived and died in order to give us what we have. And even with the volatile political climate, we still have so much. The Japanese people in the internment camps found so much to be grateful for despite their terrible circumstances, and they banded together. I feel that’s what our community needs as well.

What was it like working with George Takei?

George is one of the kindest people I’ve met working on a production so far. We have had several dinner dates, where I’ve gotten to know him and hear some of his amazing stories! I think what really sets him apart from other celebrities that I’ve interacted with is that he is incredibly humble and encouraging. He is always asking others about their lives and how they are doing. He has been a huge encouragement to me as well, especially since I am one of the few non-union actors in the show. He has given me so much amazing advice and inspiration.

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

It’s a beautiful piece with a lot of heart. It has come to mean so much to every single person in the cast and crew. Everyone involved in the show has claimed that Allegiance has finally come home. The Los Angeles Area has a huge Japanese American community, and so many here have family members and/or friends who experienced the camps first hand. So, if you’re going to come and see it bring some tissues!