Recommended by Rich Smith
I liked everything about the idea of Howl's Moving Castle, A New Musical,. Sara Porkalob is the star. She's a quadruple threat who can carry a show on her own, but in this production she has the help of Michael Feldman, Randall Scott Carpenter, Kate Jaeger, and Opal Peachey. How could anything go wrong? > Hayao Miyazaki transformed Diana Wynne Jones's 1986 novel into a beloved and mesmerizing anime with a celebrated soundtrack, and there's no reason why director/adapter/Book-It co-founder Myra Platt and composer/lyricist/actor/musician Justin Huertas couldn't turn the same source material into a magical musical. Huertas's humor and Platt's experience boded well, and there seemed to be plenty of opportunity to buck the conventions of generic musical theater and run with something a little wilder. I liked the poster. But, though the performances were generally fantastic, this production couldn't overcome the big problem presented by the story of Howl's Moving Castle. It's boring. ALL THAT SAID: Platt does retain a lot of the gender and age fluidity that makes Jones's novel interesting to think about for more than 15 minutes, and that combined with her decision to scrap Sophie's happily-ever-after ending ingeniously (if indirectly) made room for characters and designers to make choices they wouldn't have been able to make.