The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway Marty Callner

The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway Marty Callner
If you don't get a little misty-eyed seeing the one and only Pee-wee Herman ascend the stage to rapturous applause as the star of his eponymous hit Broadway show then it's highly likely that you didn't spend part of your childhood parked in front of the TV on Saturday mornings watching the kinetic mayhem of Pee-wee's Playhouse unfold. Pee-wee (the bizarre, solipsistic, over 30-year-old creation of comedian, actor, improviser and preternatural performer Paul Reubens) captivated many a child's heart with his giddily surreal TV series for five years, until its untimely end in 1991, and while the show caught on with educators, TV critics and stoners, it occupies a special place in the hearts of those who grew up with it, particularly the misfits and outsiders, who understood Pee-wee on a level that no one else, perhaps not even his creator, did. In 2010, nearly 20 years after his unceremonious retirement, Paul Reubens resurrected Pee-wee Herman for a revival of the early '80s stage show that first brought him fame. While toned-down greatly from his early comedy club days and intended, as the DVD box says, for "kids of all ages," this new revival returns most of the original characters and is modelled on the familiar Playhouse set, adding a slight sprinkling of mischievous wit and double-entendres for Pee-wee's now fully grown fan base. The new Pee-wee Herman show follows a very loosely structured plot about Pee-wee's desire to fly, but mostly stays true to the original Playhouse style of reverse picaresque, where different characters come to visit Pee-wee and interact with him and his anthropomorphic furniture. Yes, fans, Chairy, Terry, Randy, Conky, Globey, Jambi and Magic Screen all make appearances, and Pee-wee's delirious high-camp world is fully intact — there's even a "Penny" cartoon! While Pee-wee's manic man-child can sometimes be a little one-note, Reubens moves things along at a furious pace with remarkable energy for someone approaching 60. The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway is thoroughly entertaining, mostly innocent grade school humour; it's a winsome oddity that adds to the myth of one of pop culture's weirdest and most self-aware creations. (eOne)