You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Pee-wee Herman Show

Fans of the art of Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman) will have a nostalgic field-day at the Broadway incarnation of "The Pee-wee Herman Show."

Pee-wee Herman - Paul Reubens Mailman Mike - John Moody Sergio - Jesse Garcia Cowboy Curtis - Phil LaMarr Miss Yvonne - Lynne Marie Stewart

Fans of the art of Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman) will have a nostalgic field-day at the Broadway incarnation of “The Pee-wee Herman Show.” Non-initiates will simply scratch their heads, look at their watches, and stare in wonder as the seemingly rational adults surrounding them scream out with joy when anyone says the secret word of the day, which — no surprise here — is “fun.” Pee-wee fans will have plenty of that at the newly monikered Stephen Sondheim Theater (formerly the Henry Miller); newcomers are unlikely to be converted, and might just as well stay home.

Nearly 30 years after Reubens debuted his alter ego on the L.A. stage in 1981, performer is approaching sixty but his creation seems to be timeless. Even so, Pee-wee can be hard to take. The youngster is something of a combination of Jerry Lewis, Eloise, and Lily Tomlin’s Edith Ann, only with an aggressive edge and plenty of double entendres.

The new show, which preemed in LA earlier this year, is set in what seems to be a loving recreation of the set of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” the culty CBS Saturday morning skein that ran in the late 1980s. Reubens is accompanied by three members of his original TV cast (although Laurence Fishburne, was presumably too busy to recreate his role of Cowboy Curtis). Pee-wee faithful not only cheer the familiar characters, songs, and phrases; they offer loud and energetic entrance hands to the props.

Show has been slickly staged by director Alex Timbers, who after a long career in the downtown theater made a dynamic Broadway debut four weeks ago as author/director of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” Actors, voices, and video are well integrated; the last include a very funny mock-authentic film on lunchroom manners, featuring a humongous slice of chocolate cake, and a stop-motion clay animation cartoon from Nick Park of “Wallace and Gromit” fame. However, there are moments — like when, after almost an hour, Reubens spends two minutes blowing up and deflating a balloon — when the ninety-minute show seems like it will never end.

The preteen fans of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” are now card-carrying thirty- and forty-somethings — credit card-carrying, that is, and presumably happy to relive their youth with Pee-wee, Chairry the talking chair, Pterri the pterodactyl, and Miss Yvonne-the-most-beautiful-woman-in-Puppetland. Probably there are more than enough Pee-wee-ites to fill the Sondheim for this eight-week holiday booking; potential playgoers in doubt, though, are well-advised to follow their instincts.

Popular on Variety

The Pee-wee Herman Show

Sondheim; 1,055 seats; $122 top

Production: A Scott Sanders Prods., Adam S. Gordon, Allan S. Gordon, Elan V. McAllister, Roy Miller, Carol Fineman, Scott Zeilinger Prods./Radio Mouse Ent./ StylesFour Prods./Randy Donaldson/Tim Laczynski presentation of a play in one act by Paul Reubens and Bill Steinkellner. Additional material by John Paragon. Music by Jay Cotton. Created and conceived by Reubens. Directed by Alex Timbers.

Creative: Set, David Korins; costumes, Ann Closs-Farley; lighting, Jeff Croiter; sound, M.L. Dogg; puppetry, Basil Twist; projections, Jake Pinholster; makeup/hair/wig, Ve Neill; production stage manager, Lois L. Griffing. Opened Nov. 11. 2010, reviewed Nov. 6. Runs through Jan. 2, 2011. Running time: 1 HOUR, 30 MIN.

Cast: Pee-wee Herman - Paul Reubens Mailman Mike - John Moody Sergio - Jesse Garcia Cowboy Curtis - Phil LaMarr Miss Yvonne - Lynne Marie StewartWith: Drew Powell, John Paragon, Lance Roberts, Josh Meyers.

More Legit

  • Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies' in the Works

    Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies' in the Works as a Movie From Heyday, BBC Films

    David Heyman’s Heyday Films, whose credits include “Gravity,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Marriage Story” and the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises, and BBC Films have secured the film rights to Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s musical “Follies.” “Follies” will be adapted for the screen and directed by Dominic Cooke, a four-time Olivier [...]

  • Tina Turner The Musical

    How 'Tina: The Tina Turner Musical' Tells the Icon's Traumatic Story

    It wasn’t the response Tali Pelman had hoped to receive. The group creative managing director of Stage Entertainment had traveled to Küsnacht, Switzerland, with one goal in mind: Convince Tina Turner that her life could be the stuff of a successful stage musical. “We walked in the door,” Pelman remembers. “Tina was already there, and she greeted [...]

  • Ben McKenzie

    'Gotham' Star Ben McKenzie to Make Broadway Debut in 'Grand Horizons'

    “Gotham” star Ben McKenzie will make his Broadway debut in Bess Wohl’s “Grand Horizons.” He joins a cast that includes Oscar nominees Jane Alexander (“Kramer vs. Kramer,” “The Great White Hope”) and James Cromwell (“Babe,” “L.A. Confidential”). The show has a strictly limited 10-week run and begins previews on Dec. 23, 2019, before officially opening [...]

  • The Great Society review

    Listen: Brian Cox on 'Succession,' Shakespeare, and the Crisis We're In

    Brian Cox is having a pop-culture moment with “Succession,” the buzzy HBO series in which he stars. But he’s also an accomplished theater actor with plenty of experience doing Shakespeare — and it serves him well in both “Succession” and in his current Broadway show, “The Great Society.” Listen to this week’s podcast below: Cox [...]

  • Scooby Doo Ella Louise Allaire Martin

    Scooby-Doo Live Theater Tour Is Goofy Dane's Latest Adventure

    From its 1969 start as a Saturday morning kids mystery cartoon series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” starring its titular, talking Great Dane and his four teenaged friends, has made adventure its staple. Once Hanna-Barbera’s successor, Warner Bros. Animation, took the leash, Scooby and company became a comic book, a board game, a series of video [...]

  • Tootsie Santino Fontana

    'Tootsie' Ending Broadway Run in January

    “Tootsie,” the critically acclaimed musical adaptation of the 1982 classic film comedy, will play its final Broadway performance on Jan. 5, 2020. When it wraps up its run, the show will have logged 293 regular and 25 preview performances at the cavernous Marquis Theatre, where it sometimes labored to draw big crowds. Last week, “Tootsie” [...]

  • Laurel Griggs

    Laurel Griggs, Broadway and 'SNL' Actress, Dies at 13

    Laurel Griggs, who starred in Broadway’s “ONCE the Musical” as Ivanka, has died. She was 13. An obituary posted to Dignity Memorial indicates she died on Nov. 5, and Griggs’ grandfather wrote on Facebook that her death was due to a massive asthma attack. Griggs made her Broadway debut when she was six years old [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content