At least one review of Pee-wee Herman's Broadway run this winter complained that his show was, in essence, preaching to a choir of lifelong fans. If you loved Pee-wee then, you'd love him now.
But any critic who didn't love "The Pee-wee Herman Show" on Broadway simply had no love to give. The joy of seeing Pee-wee wasn't predicated upon seeing the rest of the original gang back together again — although, to be certain, audience members cheered upon seeing the original Miss Yvonne (Lynne Marie Stewart), Mailman Mike (John Moody) and Jambi (John Paragon) take the stage. Anyone could have a blast at this show. All you had to do was remember the child-like wonder and exuberance you felt when you were a child. I know that was true for myself last night at Pee-wee's Broadway finale, because I didn't grow up watching Pee-wee. I didn't watch Saturday morning TV when his show was on. I didn't watch his movies in the cinema. My experience with Pee-wee was seeing him make late-night appearances on talk shows, or even on HBO with occasional rebroadcasts of his original 1981 stage production.
Three decades later, "The Pee-Herman Show" is an ambitious and creatively inspired update to the original play, incorporating multiple characters and topical jokes for boys and girls of all ages to enjoy.
HBO taped last night's Broadway finale and will air it sometime in March, Pee-wee told the audience.
Some other things you may not see on HBO, as the taping process afforded Pee-wee close to two hours of bonus time to chat with the audience and goof around. Since you likely won't see much of this, they aren't spoilers, right?
1. Pee-wee said that in elementary school, a female classmate of his refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance for fourth, fifth and sixth grades because she was Canadian.
2. Pee-wee said that at one of the Broadway performances, a six-year-old girl sitting in the front row provided two additional moments of hilarity by not entirely understanding jokes early and late in the show. Unless she did understand them all too well. Hmmm.
3. At the curtain call, that young hottie you don't recognize is Lexy Fridell. She provided the voices for Chairry, Magic Screen, Ginger, Fish and Flowers.
4. You'll also see Lexy Fridell in a separate scene alongside Caesar Samayoa (who was the understudy for several characters), and in it, everyone in the audience is only pretending to clap and cheer. Pee-wee said we could all have great careers as extras in film and TV.
5. There's a guy inside Conky 3000?!? When they needed to go back later and film a pickup for one key shot, it took a few minutes getting the guy into the robot suit.
6. During the wait for the reshoot, a puppeteer controlling Pterri taunted other characters with some naughty dance moves.
7. Pee-wee brought up a stagehand who had a ring much similar to Pee-wee's abstinence ring, only not quite as plastic.
8. Pee-wee bantered with several audience members and told us his favorite joke currently involves his response to many fans.
9. A middle-aged man did get Pee-wee's attention, however, by boasting that if Pee-wee would lend him another abstinence ring, that he'd propose to his girlfriend. Pee-wee did. He did. And she said yes.
10. Pee-wee polled the audience to find out how they followed him via social media. Twitter got the loudest response, followed by Foursquare, with Facebook trailing well behind.
11. But if you've unlocked Pee-wee's badge on Foursquare and are in NYC on Sunday, well, then you're going to be in for a treat.
12. Pee-wee let fans know that if they stuck around, they could wait for him in the breezeway outside the theater near the Stage Door. True to his word, Pee-wee emerged and talked to fans until close to midnight (see above photo taken by one fan). He talked about the importance of art. He thanked fans for supporting him so much in his comeback. And he asked fans to be kind to one another. Who knew that you could have met Pee-wee outside the Stage Door every night this winter?
13. Me. You may not see me. But if you look at row J on the aisle in the orchestra, then you may just see me!