HBO to Film Broadway's The Pee-wee Herman Show for Subsequent Broadcast
By Andrew Gans
Nancy Geller, senior vice president of HBO Original Programming, announced Dec. 21 that the cable network will film Broadway's The Pee-wee Herman Show.
Debuting in 2011, the HBO presentation, The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway, will shoot at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre New York in January, immediately following the conclusion of the Broadway engagement, which ends Jan. 2.
In a statement Geller said, "Before his hit series and movies, HBO introduced Paul Reubens’ Pee-wee Herman to a national audience in the ‘Young Comedians’ series, followed by the groundbreaking 1981 special. It’s thrilling to have Paul back on the network, and it will be a blast to return to Pee-wee’s Playhouse."
The Broadway bow of The Pee-wee Herman Show, starring Paul Reubens as Pee-wee, officially opened at the newly rechristened Stephen Sondheim Theatre Nov. 11 following previews that began Oct. 26. The colorful production recently announced a four-week extension to Jan. 2, 2011.
The cast also includes Jesse Garcia (ALMA Award winner for Quinceañera) as Sergio the Handyman and Phil LaMarr as Cowboy Curtis with Josh Meyers, Drew Powell, Lexy Fridell, Lance Roberts and Caesar Samayoa.
The intermissionless 90-minute stage show is based on Reubens' 1981 cult classic stage production, The Pee-wee Herman Show, with new elements from the ground-breaking CBS show "Pee-wee's Playhouse." It's written by Paul Reubens and Bill Steinkellner, with additional material by John Paragon, and direction by Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson).
Reubens, who is making his Main Stem debut, was recently asked by Playbill whether he found the prospect of playing Broadway intimidating? "I wish you hadn't asked that, because now I'm going, 'Oh, my God!' Yes, I'm terrified, but I'm excited and energized more than anything. I never talk like this because I'm very tough on myself, but I feel like a little kid, walking around New York with a big secret: Nobody knows but me just how amazing the show's going to be. And now I'm being interviewed for Playbill? Nothing says Broadway to me more than Playbill, so that's almost the most exciting part about this entire thing!"
The Pee-wee Herman Show features music by Jay Cotton and the work of renowned puppetry artist Basil Twist. The production comes to New York direct from its sold-out run in Los Angeles.
The show, according to the producers, "reunites the one-and-only Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) with many of the original Playhouse cast of characters — including Miss Yvonne, Cowboy Curtis, Pterri the Pterodactyl, Jambi the Genie, and Chairry — for an all new celebration of sophisticated silliness. An eye-popping 90 minutes of subversive humor and childlike wonder, The Pee-wee Herman Show charts a day in the life of our bow-tied hero, one of the most inspired comic personas of our time."
The design team includes David Korins (scenic design), Ann Closs-Farley (costume design), Jeff Croiter (lighting design), M.L. Dogg (sound design) and Jake Pinholster (projection design).
Paul Reubens created Pee-wee Herman while a member of the famed Los Angeles improv group The Groundlings. The Pee-wee Herman Show premiered at The Groundlings Theatre on Feb. 7, 1981, at midnight. It quickly moved to The Roxy on Sunset Strip where it ran for an unprecedented five months. The HBO broadcast of the show introduced Pee-wee to a national audience. Pee-wee was brought to the big screen in the 1985 comedy "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," which he co-wrote and which marked Tim Burton's directorial debut. Reubens went on to create, co-write and direct "Pee-wee's Playhouse" on CBS where the series earned 22 Emmy Awards during its five-year run. Reubens has been nominated for 14 Emmy Awards, winning twice. Pee-wee Herman was made an honorary Muppet, received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame and was made an honorary Marine in conjunction with his work with Toys for Tots. Reubens has starred in a number of diverse film and TV shows, including "30 Rock," "Pushing Daisies," "Reno 911," "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Murphy Brown," which earned him an Emmy nomination. His film credits include "Mystery Men," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Blow," Todd Solondz's "Life During Wartime" and the David O. Russell film "Nailed." He currently can be heard as The Bat-mite on "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" and as the voice of Rex the Robot, the tour guide of George Lucas' Star Tours ride at Disneyland and Disneyworld.
John Paragon, an actor, writer and director, starred in his own Showtime special, "The Paragon of Comedy" and in cult movie classics "Eating Raoul," "Echo Park" and "Weird Al's U.H.F." Other TV guest star appearances include "Cheers," "Star Trek Deep Space 9" and a recurring role on "Seinfeld." Paragon received five Emmy nominations for writing and co-directing "Pee-wee's Playhouse" and co-wrote (with Paul Reubens) the acclaimed "Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special." Paragon is also a creative consultant for Walt Disney Imagineering.
Lynne Marie Stewart played the role of Miss Yvonne on the CBS series "Pee-wee's Playhouse" and in the original Groundlings stage show. For 20 years she performed with The Groundlings comedy troupe. On television, she played "Ellen" on FX's "Son of the Beach" and currently plays Charlie's Mom on "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia." She will be appearing in the upcoming season of Tracy Ullman's "State of the Union." Her films include "American Graffiti," "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" as Mother Superior and "Big Top Pee-wee" as Zelda the Bearded Lady.
The Pee-wee Herman Show is produced by Scott Sanders, Allan Gordon/ Adam Gordon/ Elan McAllister, Roy Miller, Scott Zeilinger Productions/Radio Mouse Entertainment, Carol Fineman.
Stephen Sondheim Theatre is located at 124 West 43rd Street.Tickets, priced $67-$122 (includes $2 facility fee), are available through Telecharge.com or by calling (212) 239-6200.
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