Review: The Pee-Wee Herman Show

What a load of fun! In the late 1970s, comedian Paul Reubens created the Pee-Wee Herman character, a man-child comedian, throwing 1950s-inspired visuals together with equal parts sophisticated adult humor and plain old innocent silly fun. After many years away from the character (and nearly as many years teasingly suggesting he would return to the character), Reubens has weaved together the story of his genuinely risque early 1980s stage production The Pee-Wee Herman Show with elements from the kid-friendly Pee-Wee’s Playhouse TV show from later in that decade, as well as topical 21st century humor.

This retooled Pee-Wee Herman Show is received almost like a rock concert, with Reubens and company doing the equivalent of Pee-Wee’s “Greatest Hits”. The cheering when Pee-Wee first appears goes on for about a minute, and when he launches into his signature dance to “Tequila” by The Champs the crowd goes wild, eating it up.

This is easily the most good-natured fun on all of Broadway, and the fans’ joy is infectious. Reubens “surfs” that energy like the seasoned pro he is, and he and director Alex Timbers have crafted a fast-moving vehicle that looks like a gaudily painted go kart, but purrs like a Lamborghini.

While not as bawdy and occasionally dark as the original Show was, this new version is far more rife with double entendres than the Playhouse. The entendres climax, if you will, when Pee-Wee accidentally causes a blackout by pulling a cable out of the wall. Many of the “blackout” lines are just goofy, aimed right at the kids, but just try explaining all of those things that “aren’t a flashlight” and just how the dancing bear, hunky fireman and magic screen got into that weird position they’re in when the lights come up…

For tickets, click here.

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