NEW YORK, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Pee-wee Herman never completely went away, he just didn't come out of his playhouse as often, officials of a New York theater production company said.
Paul Rubens, who played the character of Pee-wee in the Emmy-winning "Pee-wee's Playhouse," reprises his cinema personage in a play opening Tuesday in New York's Stephen Sondheim theater, The New York Post reported.
Rubens' Saturday-morning children's program wasn't renewed when its four-year run ended in 1990 because of an "indecent exposure" charge against him in 1991, the newspaper said.
Now, following a 20-year hiatus, the 58-year-old Ruben and his Pee-wee persona are starring in a big-budget live version of his comedy act. The play is a combined version of the children's show and an earlier, adult-oriented Home Box Office special, "The Pee-wee Herman Show," the report said.
"Pee-wee represents pure joy," said Alex Timbers, director of the Broadway production, on the character's enduring appeal.
Paul Rust, who is co-writing a new Pee-wee movie with Rubens, saw a preview of the play during a limited run in Los Angeles last year and said Rubens hasn't lost his touch.
"When the lights went down, everybody just went crazy," said Rust. "It felt like people were grateful that he was back."
Rubens gave birth to the "kidult" genre of entertainment, which spawned shows such as "SpongeBob SquarePants," and "Yo Gabba Gabba!" the newspaper said.