Fans of Pee-wee Herman angry over show's postponement
They were planning to fly to L.A. from all over the country just to see one of their beloved pop-culture heroes. But now many of them are left with dashed hopes and airline cancellation fees -- and they are not happy, to say the least.
On Tuesday, actor Paul Reubens announced that he is pushing back the opening of "The Pee-wee Herman Show" to January from November. He also said that the stage show would be moving to Club Nokia in downtown L.A. from the original venue at the Music Box @ Fonda in Hollywood.
"Man, this is the worst news ever," said Steve Gadlin, a lifelong Pee-wee fan who lives in Chicago. Speaking on the phone Tuesday, Gadlin said he had purchased an airplane ticket and front-row seats for the show for the day after Thanksgiving. This morning, the Web developer (and part-time comic and producer) said he requested a refund on his tickets to the show.
"I'm not over-dramatizing this just because I'm talking to a newspaper reporter. This the biggest bummer on the planet. For me, I had such a connection to Pee-wee growing up. But, you know, I'll live."
Lynn Margaret of Atlanta said in an e-mail that she and a friend had purchased tickets for two nights in November and had booked four nights in a hotel.
She said she had to pay a $75 cancellation fee on her flight and that her friend from Boston had to pay a $150 cancellation fee.
"But it's really not the money," said Margaret. "We're just so sad and disappointed. It feels like being stood up by someone who was one of your very favorite people, to find out they blew you off to hang out with people that are fancier and prettier and richer or something."
Fans -- or maybe one should say former fans -- of Pee-wee Herman have been leaving angry comments on Culture Monster since the news broke yesterday.
One commenter who identified himself as Kevin (and who did not leave contact information) wrote that he already spent $1,500 in travel expenses to see the show and that he may have to pay $300 in cancellation fees.
"It is [apparent] that the only reason the venue has changed is because PEEWEE has become a money grubbing jerk," he wrote.
Scott Sanders, lead producer of "The Pee-wee Herman Show," said the decision to move the dates and venue was because the production is growing larger and more technically complex.
"Paul called me and said, 'I think we're outgrowing the space,' " said Sanders. "As a producer, it felt clearer to me that it would be difficult if not impossible to make it work there. It was a creative and artistic decision that evolved organically."
"The Pee-wee Herman Show" is a reconceived version of Reubens' hit '80s stage show of the same name that launched him into stardom. The new version of the show is set to run Jan. 12 to Feb. 7, pushed back from its original Nov. 19-29 engagement.
To disappointed fans, the producer said: "I'm sorry and, really, it was not a decision that was taken without a great deal of thought."
-- David Ng
Photo: Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) in a scene from "Pee-Wee's Playhouse Marathon." Credit: Fox Family Channel