By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor
For one night only, the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall on June 7 will showcase the heroism of World War II Nisei soldiers.
“Defining Courage” is a journey into the legacy of Nisei soldiers who served in the segregated military units of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service, and 522nd Field Artillery Battalion. .
Last October, ABC-7 news anchor David Ono and producer/editor Jeff MacIntyre brought the immersive show to the Aratani Theater in Little Tokyo to a standing ovation. Since then, they have performed three sold-out shows in Hawaii in March before an audience that included former Hawaii Governor David Ige and Rep. Jill Tokuda.
Segerstrom’s performance is a natural next step and will be filmed as a special for Disney ABC with the goal of turning it into a special to be shown on one of their platforms. Kim Goodwin, president of ABC News, praised “Defining Courage” and said the story “sticks forever in your soul.”
A live choir and music accompany and add emotion to the story. Ono noted that for this performance, the team is working on original music to be free of any copyright issues.
“It’s scary because I know that the music is very well known to the audience, it set the tone and they related to the songs, because they knew them. Let’s hope the story takes care of itself,” Ono said in an interview with Rafu Shimpo.
The history of the Nisei soldiers is legendary. Due to its size and duration of service, 100he/442North Dakota it was the most decorated unit in United States military history. With Ono as the narrator, the audience is taken to the sites of some of the most important battles of World War II and sees where Nisei soldiers fought and died.
The two journalists traveled to Europe, touring the towns and forests where the 100he/442North Dakota they made their heroic stand. In Aratani’s performance, veterans were honored on stage at the end of the show.
The story is one that Ono and MacIntyre have been leading up to this point for years. Ono explained that it all started as a keynote address at an Aloha Night gala for the Go For Broke National Education Center.
“Defining Courage” is part of the work and mission of Story Boldly, a nonprofit organization founded by Ono and MacIntyre to tell compelling stories using journalistic practices to educate the public about important chapters in history.
“This is a storytelling concept that we’ve created that we’d like to continue to use in other themes in a similar way to reach students, which is more entertaining, engaging, more immersive,” Ono said.
For the June 7 show, they received crucial support from Jane Fujishige Yada, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. She is the first Asian American to serve as chair of the board.
“Jane Fujishige Yada knew people from the Little Tokyo community and they told her about the program,” Ono recalled. “Jane was the one who set everything in motion.
“It is very expensive to put on the shows. Any money we make will go toward putting together an educational curriculum, all about how to bring this story to Americans. The Southern California community has come together to raise funds and it’s going to happen now.”
Ono said they hope as many veterans attend as possible. Critically, they hope the performance will raise awareness of the service and sacrifices of Japanese American soldiers during World War II.
He said he hopes Segerstrom is packed for an emotional and thoughtful evening.
“It is one of the most dynamic stories in American history. I’ve always thought the goal is to be a great movie. Maybe we’ll get to one theater at a time,” Ono said.
“Defining Courage” will be presented Wednesday, June 7 at 7 pm at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa. Purchase tickets at www.scfta.org/events/2023/story-boldlys-defining-courage. More information: www.DefiningCourageShow.com.