By HOO SOOK HWANG
AAP staff writer
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Public Radio will air the sold-out Wits program performance with George Takei on Sunday, March 8, 2015, at 1 p.m., and on The Current 89.3 again at 9 p.m. The show was taped live at the Minneapolis Guthrie Theater on March 6, 2015. Wits airs weekly in Minnesota on MPR News as an American Public Media.
Takei is best known as a pioneer in one of the earliest Asian American males actors to co-star in a repeat regular role at Hikara Sulu, helmsman on the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek television series that aired in the late 1960s. He joined Wits and MPR host John Moe as the two engaged in conversation, comedy, sketches and songs and more.
The Wurtele Theater was a perfect and intimate setting to experience the live version of MPR’s radio show known as Wits. The broadcast was filled with an array of delightful and humor-filled dialogue, light-spirited comedy and eclectic rap music by Mid-North rapper, David “Serengeti” Cohn.
Moe started the evening with a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock alongside George Takei on Star Trek. Moe asked Takei to share one small story about Nimoy. Takei shared that Leonard Nimoy spoke up to ensure that people of color remained in primary roles on Star Trek’s television series and in fact said that he would not continue if the series’ theme of diversity was not honored. Takei further added that very few celebrities used their leverage as stars to elevate and maintain people of color on screen, but Nimoy did so with integrity and conviction.
Inspired by the story about Leonard Nimoy, Takei courageously transitioned into another short story about the opening on Broadway of the musical titled, “Allegiance -A New American Musical.” The popular musical, written and co-produced by George Takei, grossed over 12 million dollars in ticket sales in 2007 when it opened in San Diego. The show openly addresses the story of the Japanese Internment Camps, which were created in 1942 under the executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Takei’s California-born family were taken into captivity, along with a over 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent, who were also United States citizens. The musical gives voice to Takei’s account of what it was like to be a part of a historical atrocity, which has too often been overlooked. Takei underscored that the constitutional rights to due process were completely abandoned by the United States. Takei is determined that this episode in US history will not be forgotten.
Throughout the evening, woven into funny skits, game show-like dialogues and amusing songs, Takei narrated autobiographical accounts of his life that highlighted his challenges, both personal and professional. Takei, when asked about his success, immediately credited his father with admiration and gratitude. In cooperation with MPR talent, the show boldly conveyed that the strength of ethnic/racial diversity on stage was another reason why tickets were sold out. The people of the Twin Cities continue to crave an inclusive ethos, which respects human rights and celebrates all ethnic communities.