Thursday, January 21, 2010
Pee Wee Herman, 2010
Remember my Bestest Gurlfren', Eddie Spaghetti? (AKA Edwina Bettina). Yes, the same "Eddie of the Eighties" as in the post right before this one. Well, he got tickets to the live stage show revival of "The Pee Wee Herman Show," and he invited me to come with him!
I'm the luckiest boy in the world, as Pee Wee would say!
I absolutely loved it. The show was fabulous and I laughed my ass off. The set itself, which closely resembled the T.V. series' version, was candy-colored and overly detailed enough to make me kind of wish I smoked pot. All of the classic puppets that die hard Pee Wee fans would expect were on stage: Globey the talking globe, Ptery the pterodactyl, the aquarium fish, the Greek chorus of windowsill flowers, and the talking window who repeatedly announces "Someone's coming." And of course, holding genteel court almost center stage, like a pastel plush throne, was Chairy, batting her eyelashes and waving her arms. It looked like she was sweetly hugging Pee Wee every time he sat down.
As for the non-puppet characters, a few of the original cast members, both from the early eighties stage show and the ensuing T.V. series, reprised their roles, including Miss Yvonne, Mailman Mike, and Jambi the Genie! Miss Yvonne, "the prettiest girl in Puppet Land," must be as old as my retired aunt by now, but she looked great (under the lights)!
One conspicuously absent cast member from the T.V. series was Laurence Fishburne, who had originated the T.V. role of Cowboy Curtis. Phil LaMarr (of Mad TV fame) was an apt replacement, especially in the budding romance scenes with Miss Yvonne. I was mesmerized by Cowboy Curtis's costume, all Barbie pinks and grape Kool-Aid purples. His horse, Ginger, even had a matching pink mane.
The original cast had included Phil Hartman's character, Kap'n Karl, a barnacle-crusty sailor who was Miss Yvonne's original crush. It seemed to be a deliberate choice not to cast a replacement for Kap'n Karl, out of respect for the late Mr. Hartman. It is bittersweet, even if just for Pee Wee's fans, that he is not around for this revival.
And what about Pee Wee, AKA Paul Reubens, himself? He looked amazing! Yes, he probably spackles on about eighteen layers of pancake before going on stage. And yes, the stage lights were practically bright enough to require SPF protection, but I was still impressed with how young the actor looks - how original-Pee-Wee-Herman he still looks - not like Bob Denver still dressed up as Gilligan in the last decade or so. I was particularly impressed with how pencil-geek-thin the actor looked in costume. According to a recent interview in Details magazine, Mr. Reubens is closer to age 60 than he is 55!
And Pee Wee still maintains his childlike innocence and energy. The show, as fans remember, is still fast-paced and ever-changing, as Pee Wee runs from talking on his tin can phones, to answering the door to welcome various guests, to adding to his tin foil ball - which has grown to the size of that boulder in the Indiana Jones movie!
The show's audience consisted exclusively of adults, which surprised me a little. I looked around and I couldn't find any kids in the theater seats. As if to make up for it, though, there were quite a few celebrity sightings, presumably because we had attended on a press night. I got to meet Monica Horan from 'Everybody Loves Raymond' and tell her I thought she made the character Amy very funny. I was thrilled to recognize Toni Basil sitting in front of us, who was kind enough to confirm that she is still choreographing for Bette Midler's live stage shows (I had to bite my tongue from singing a refrain of 'Oh, Mickey, your so fine you blow my mind HEY, MICKEY!' - how many times must she have heard that from complete strangers in the last twenty-seven years?).
We saw actress Debi Mazar, whose beauty is as fierce in real life as it is on screen. Most surprising of all was seeing David Hasselhoff in attendance. He looked handsome and healthy. Age has not deteriorated him (a friend suggested that a recent stint in rehab may have something to do with Mr. Hasselhoff's current healthy glow).
But the cherry on top of an already fabulous evening for me was getting to meet my idol (one of), comedienne Judy Tenuta. Yes, the self-proclaimed Petite Flower, Giver Goddess, Fashion Plate Saint. She even offered to autograph my Pee Wee program. Above her signature she wrote one of her trademark lines: "It could happen!" And it really did, it truly happened! I have written proof.
Eddie always takes me to the best shows. Because of him, I also worship the goddess Varla Jean Merman. It is because of Eddie and his connections that we had excellent seats to "Edward Scissorhands" the ballet, Matthew Bourne's adaptation. True, most of the shows we attend together consist of very campy humor - which makes the Pee Wee Herman Show such a perfect shared experience to add to our ever growing list.
And - as I always remind Edwina Bettina - if it weren't for him I would never get out as much, here in the Los Angeles area, and I wouldn't never get no cultcha'.