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Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, the composer and playwright of “Spring Awakening,” debuted a musical based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, “The Nightingale,” in which the characters are Chinese. Asian-American activists were indignant that the cast featured mostly non-Asian actors _ a similar complaint that erupted two decades ago with “Miss Saigon.”

If “Allegiance” makes it to Broadway, it would be the first Asian-led cast of a musical there in nearly a decade. Salonga, who starred in a Broadway revival of “Flower Drum Song” in 2002, is hopeful the Asian-American ensemble can prove its commercial appeal in New York and elsewhere.

“For us the stakes are very high in that, a lot of people are saying _ especially now with the controversy at the La Jolla Playhouse with regards to `The Nightingale’ _ there are people saying Asians don’t sell,” Salonga said. “For me I’d like to think that that thinking is wrong.”

Telly Leung, a “Glee” star who plays a younger version of Takei’s character, made his debut in “Flower Drum Song” and was on Broadway most recently in “Godspell.” The actor remembers being surprised that more people didn’t flock to the “Flower Drum Song,” which closed after five months. He wonders if Asian-Americans are perhaps not viewed as part of the fabric of America as much as they would like to be.

“When audiences come to see a show and they see a full cast of Asian people on stage, I wonder if it’s difficult for them to connect to that,” he said. “I wonder if there’s a little bit of a disconnect _ `Oh, that person is an Asian and a foreigner.’ I think that’s always still something in our American subconscious that I’m hoping shows like `Flower Drum Song’ and `Allegiance’ can change.”

Takei, who has raised $158,000 in fan donations through an online campaign, is hoping those who know him from “Star Trek” and his trademark saying, “Oh my,” will be open to seeing him in a non-sci-fi role.

At 75, he’s eager to make his Broadway debut. However, the self-described “shower singer” isn’t planning on doing much complicated onstage dancing. “But I can do the Happy Dance,” he said. “That’s contemporary and it doesn’t involve swinging girls around.”




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