Paul Reubens Brings Pee-Wee Herman To Broadway

In case you haven’t heard, “The Pee-wee Herman Show” opened on Broadway this week and it is offering up all the playhouse shenanigans you can handle. Tucked into the realm of nostalgia, this play is essentially a 90-minute version of Paul Reubens’ TV show that “Playhouse” fans have been missing for decades. All the originals are back, including Magic Screen, Mailman Mike, Pterri, and furniture favorite Chairy. To keep up with modern times, the play also introduces a few new elements, including a talking ShamWow! and sly mentions of Reubens indecent exposure arrest. While the secret word of “The Pee-wee Herman Show” might be “fun,” not all the critics agree. See what some of them have to say after the jump. New York’s Culture Vulture said:

“Best not to overthink it: You’re not going to Pee-wee for a wistful seminar in the disposability of popular culture. You’re here for the foil ball, the Penny cartoon, for Cowboy Curtis (Phil Lamarr, taking over for Laurence Fishburne) and Miss Yvonne (still played by Lynne Stewart). Well, they’re all here, and more besides. From the moment the light hits that Skittles-hued set, you know you’re either with Pee-wee or indifferent to him, a condition largely governed by age, attitude, and blood-sugar level. Is Pee-wee still “the luckiest boy in the world”? Or just a pop anomaly come round again, like some kandy korn comet, for another pass? Does it matter? Chillax. Pull up a Chairy. It’s all good.” [Vulture]

Entertainment Weekly’s take:

“In a liberating wink, Reubens doesn’t stint on giddy new jokes at the expense of e-mail, ShamWow! pads, and the gossip-page knowledge of his own notorious history. Mailman Mike (John Moody from the original stage show) delivers a letter from a prison friend, and Pee-wee even shows off the abstinence ring he proudly wears (take that, Jonas Brothers!). Thus do the centuries past and present collide while the host cooks deep-fried onion rings for his buddies and wishes his deepest wish: to be able to fly. What he’s really cooking up, though, is a knowing Proustian reflection on time passing and innocence lost — both Reubens’ and our own.” [EW]

And The New York Times opines:

“The Pee-wee-ignorant or the Pee-wee-averse are definitely not invited to the party. At times I felt a bit like a wallflower myself. I knew Pee-wee primarily from his debut movie, ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,’ Tim Burton’s breakthrough film, and was disappointed that the stage show featured little in the way of adventure, which is to say plot. The production is just a merry jumble of beloved bits designed to push the audience’s buttons with their familiarity. (Some date all the way back to the original ‘Pee-wee Herman Show,’ staged in Los Angeles in 1981.) A string of unrelated diversions can be perfectly pleasing in a half-hour dose, but after 90 minutes I began to feel like a fidgety kid in need of an Adderall fix.” [NY Times]

Will you be going to see this one?