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For Pee-wee fans, 'worst news ever'

New dates for comic's show leave dashed hopes, cancellation fees and

October 08, 2009|David Ng

They were planning to fly to L.A. from all over the country 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 was 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. In a telephone interview, the Web developer (and part-time comic and producer) said he had purchased an airline ticket and front-row seats for the show for the day after Thanksgiving but now was requesting a refund.

"I'm not over-dramatizing this just because I'm talking to a newspaper reporter. This is 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 that 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."

Other fans were angry about the ticket exchange process. A new price structure for the Club Nokia engagement means that a simple exchange isn't possible for some ticket holders. For instance, those who purchased tickets for $38.50 at the Music Box will either have to downgrade to standing room or spend more money for a seat, according to promoters.

Tickets for Club Nokia range from $29.50 to $125.

Scott Sanders, lead producer of "The Pee-wee Herman Show," said the decision to move the dates and venue was made because the production is growing larger and more technically complex.

"Paul called me and said, 'I think we're outgrowing the space,' " Sanders said. "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."

A spokeswoman for Reubens said the actor intended to meet fans who were inconvenienced by the change of plans after performances. "I want to grovel to them in person," Reubens said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The show is now set to run Jan. 12 to Feb. 7.

--

david.ng@latimes.com

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