After an almost two-decade hiatus, actor-comedian Paul Reubens (BFA Theater 73) has brought the iconic character of Pee-wee back—this time from the little screen to the stage at Club Nokia @ L.A. LIVE for a limited 4-week engagement, through Feb. 7. Nostalgic audiences–and critics–have welcomed their Saturday morning hero with open arms.
From Variety’s review:
Today’s secret word is … delight — especially for fans of Paul Reubens’ iconic man-child, Pee-wee Herman, who has reemerged in an adaptation of the stage show that started it all almost 30 years ago. It’s a trip down memory lane for many and an introduction for a new generation to the multilevel style of humor the ersatz kiddie show provided in the CBS series that sprang from the original production of “The Pee-wee Herman Show” at the Groundlings Theater in 1981.
The audience for Wednesday’s official opening night reacted to every bit of nostalgia on display, cheering wildly as the curtain opened on the familiar playhouse that is home to Pee-wee’s collection of puppet friends, faithfully re-created by the design team. When Reubens strides onto the stage in his Pee-wee guise, it seems as if no time has passed at all since the character’s retreat from the limelight.
The basic story is the same: Pee-wee wishes he could fly like his friend Pterri the pterodactyl. When given the opportunity for his wish to be granted, though, he decides to use it for his friend, Miss Yvonne (original cast member Lynne Marie Stewart), instead. Along the way, the audience is treated to classic Pee-wee lines such as “I know you are, but what am I?” and “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” and double-entendre humor.
Directed by Alex Timbers, The Pee-wee Herman Show features familiar faces from the TV show Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986-1991).
The cast includes Lynne Marie Stewart as Miss Yvonne, Phil LaMarr as Cowboy Curtis, Jesse Garcia as Sergio, a new character, Josh Meyers as Firefighter, John Moody as Mailman Mike, John Paragon as Jambi, Drew Powell as Bear, Lance Roberts as King of Cartoons, and Lori Alan and Maceo Oliver as voices. The talking chair Chairry, Pterri the pterodactyl, Conky the robot, Magic Screen, and Randy, will also be on stage at Club Nokia.
Pee-wee’s taken over the LA airwaves lately to promote the live show, but one of the funniest bits we’ve seen is his explanation of the Conan O’Brien/NBC rift on one of the host’s last nights with The Tonight Show. We’ve posted the video above (after the intro commercial).
The Pee-wee Herman Show
Through Sunday, Feb. 7