For a children’s show on Saturday morning, the number of rising stars has passed Pee-duck Playhouse is a marvel – and a sign of how Paul Reubens has a developed eye for spotting emerging talent. Features Laurence Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis; Phil Hartman as Captain Carl; S. Epatha Merkerson as Reba the Mail Lady; Jimmy Smiths as repairman Johnny Wilson.
And discerning viewers of the 1986 season might also recognize a kid named Opal – who grew up to receive multiple Emmy Award nominations for creating and starring in a completely original sci-fi series. version on Netflix. Opal played by Natasha Lyonne, 6, is again on the Emmy talk for the second season of Russian dolls.
Lyonne didn’t last long on Playhouse – CBS moved production from New York City to Los Angeles in season two and the Playhouse Gang trilogy was replaced with three new child actors (including Alisan Porter, who went on to star in 1991). Curly). Lyonne, meanwhile, continued to look for work, eventually breaking through with memorable turns in 1996 Everyone says I love you1998 Slums in Beverly Hills and in 1999 But I’m a cheerleader.
For Playhouse, The Hollywood Reporter understood immediately, in the rave review that it was “The Gone TV Dada… a sort of irreverent and sometimes unrelated cultural artifact, juxtaposed.”
Lyonne respectfully looks back on her time at Playhouse, stating in a 2018 interview, “Nothing makes me feel more legitimately great than the fact that I was on that show.”
This story first appeared in the June issue of The Hollywood Reporter. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.