While most people remember Pee-Wee Herman from his film and his Saturday morning kids show from the late ’80s, before the Playhouse hit TV The Pee-Wee Herman Show was a live show as immortalized on the Live at the Roxy DVD. Now Pee-Wee and his gang of puppets and cohorts are back on stage, only this time they’re on Broadway!
Live on Broadway offers many similar story points as the ’80s show with a lot of new material added in and many updated jokes for our modern times. There are three major story lines that carry the show. The first is the budding relationship between Cowboy Curtis (Phil LaMarr) and Miss Yvonne (Lynne Marie Stewart); second is the puppets concern about being replaced by Pee-Wee’s new computer, and third is Pee-Wee’s burning desire to fly. If you’ve seen the Roxy show then some of this will seem familiar, however originally it was Captain Carl (Phil Hartman) who had a crush on Miss Yvonne.
One of the great things about this performance is that outside Cowboy Curtis (who was originally played by Lawrence Fishburne) and The King of Cartoons, almost all the original actors are back. John Moody is back as Mailman Mike, John Paragon is back as Jambi.
The show does a fantastic job of hitting all the classic notes that fans know and love about Pee-Wee including “I know you are but what am I?” and many other favorite lines. All of the puppets have a moment to shine. Chairry, Magic Screen, Pterri, Mr. Window, Globey and many others are all there. Even Randy shows up for one scene. You even get a Penny cartoon and a silly old educational video (that has also appeared on Rifftracks). There are also some great nods to Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure like when all the lights go out and everyone can only be seen on stage by there big cartoon eyes.
There are some new characters as well find themselves a secure place in Pee-Wee’s world straight away. Fireman Phineas (Josh Meyers) and the Bear (Drew Powell) are both very funny. However, it’s Sergio (Jesse Garcia) that really steals the show. He shines the moment he steps on stage and you never second guess his addition to the show. There is also a new puppet, Sham-wow that seems like an odd addition at first, but provides some really great laughs.
The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway is a lot more adult than the TV series; tons of innuendo that gets less and less subtle as the show goes on. I don’t want to give away too much, but let me just say that Magic Screen is a bit of a slut.
This film is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Uncompressed PCM Stereo. This is a really great looking film and it sounds wonderful. It really makes you feel like you’re there watching it live. However some odd camera work every now and then takes you out of that. But that doesn’t distract from the humor.
The lone special feature you get here is commentary with Paul Reubens and the rest of the cast. This is a very entertaining commentary that provides some great behind the stage tidbits and some good laughs as well.
If you’ve always been a fan of Pee-Wee Herman, this show is sure be very nostalgic for you yet seem new at the same time. If you’re new to Pee-Wee’s world than this is a great introduction. Either way you sure to be entertained if not slightly perplexed from time to time.
HBO presents The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway. Starring: Paul Reubens, Jesse Garcia, Phil LaMarr, and Lynne Marie Stewart. Running time: 89 min. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: October 4, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.