Whoop-Dee-Doo! – Original Cast Recording (1995)
WHAT IS WHOOP-DEE-DOO! ???
Howard Crabtree’s WHOOP-DEE-DOO! is a revue in the strictest sense of the word. It is, to paraphrase the American Heritage Dictionary, a musical show consisting of songs, skits and dances, often satirizing current events and trends. Although one generally thinks of satire as being darker and more acerbic than the cartoonish gaiety of Whoop-Dee-Doo!, the show is still a satire, albeit a good-natured one. In its absolute abandon and utter willingness to celebrate the gay sensibility, it so trivialized every issue it encounters that it leaves you wondering why any of these gay-related issues are issues at all. (After all, do we not bleed?) Whoop-Dee-doo!, like all satire, is a great leveler, knocking everything down to size. But it does it with such a flamboyant punch that you just can’t resist it.
Howard Crabtree’s WHOOP-DEE-DOO! is the story (if story there can be said to be) of a wide-eyed costume designer from the Midwest and his dream of having his own show in New York. Like any revue, the show opens with a sketch (THE DOCTOR SKETCH) but all does not go well. Howard’s friend and co-star Jay is not pleased with the sketch nor, it seems, with anything about the show. But Howard has faith in his vision (WHOOP-DEE-DOO!). Still, even after a fabulous opening number, Jay is not to be appeased. Not only is the show “amateurish” but the working conditions are deplorable. It seems the shabby little theatre Howard has rented is infested with flies. Since the show is in progress and there is little Howard can do about it right now, he agrees to put up some fly paper. But what fly paper! it is gigantic, large enough to catch six foot flies– which is exactly what it does (STUCK ON YOU). It is time for Howard’s big number. Backed by two bare-chested chorus boys, he appears in a marvelous Carmen Miranda costume with the happiest tutti-frutti hat you’ve ever seen, happy because all the fruit is literally smiling. But Jay is not and ruins the number (HOWARD GOES LATIN). Defeated but undaunted, Howard introduces the next act, an invisible dance troupe (you heard me, invisible!) headed by that great operatic diva Vivian McVanish who, bejeweled and begauzed, leads a troupe of empty tutus through their paces (TEACH IT HOW TO DANCE). The next number is a solo as a young boy sings of his love doe his favorite movie star (ELIZABETH). After that comes a delightful sketch: a backers’ audition for a new musical about one of our most notorious national figures (NANCY: The Unauthorized Musical). This is followed by a scene in a “fairy bar” where real Disney-style pixies trash elves and gnomes over a few beers (TOUGH TO BE A FAIRY). Time for another solo, this time a torch song sung by a moth who’s been burned by love (BLUE FLAME). Howard then makes another valiant attempt at his big number; same song, just a different outlandish costume. Howard may be dressed as Queen Elizabeth I but Jay is not amused (HOWARD GOES ELIZABETHAN). Although Howard has his hands full with Jay, that won’t stop him from presenting the Act One finale of his show, a salute to the armed forces from the point of view of a fruit, a real fruit-one Private Banana (A SOLDIER’S MUSICAL).
After a sprightly Entr’acte, Act Two of Whoop-Dee-Doo! begins with a beautiful Edwardian-style production number, men and women (who are really men) in bowler hats and bustles on an “outing”–in every sense of the word (IT’S A PERFECT DAY). As the curtain closes, a young man enters dressed for his high school reunion and remembers his days as the awkward boy in gym class (LAST ONE PICKED). And then Howard returns, taking one last stab at his big number, this time totally enveloped in a huge Indian (sorry, Native American) costume. Well, not totally enveloped. When he turns around we see his face sticking out as the head of the papoose. Oh, that Howard! Still, Jay is outraged by his shenanigans. (HOWARD GOES WESTERN). Regardless of Jay’s attitude, the show must go on and Howard introduces the next act, Leo Sinefrin, the tap dancing nose and his partner, Tina Tissue (AS PLAIN AS THE NOSE ON MY FACE). This is followed by a man with a huge brain on the top of his head who sings of the recent scientific discovery that there may be something genetic that makes one person different from another (I WAS BORN THIS WAY). Next is a sketch about an isolated tribe of aborigines and what happens to their culture when a crate of show music and movie memorabilia is dropped onto their island from a passing jet. What do you think happens? They become fans! (YOU ARE MY IDOL). But during the ritual where they conjure the gods stage and screen by costuming themselves as primitive versions of their idols–Mae West in sea shells with an octopus for a hat, Barbara Streisand with bamboo finger-nails and a toucan bill for a nose– they inadvertently make contact with the other side and the real Judy Garland appears (THE MAGIC OF ME). It is now time for the finale ultimo, but Jay refuses to do it. The costume, an outlandish spandex creation with bulbs and wires all over it, is too dangerous in his opinion. But one of the bare-chested chorus boys is willing to take his place (MY TURN TO SHINE). When the costume does prove too dangerous, Howard is left without a finale–much to Jay’s delight. But Howard triumphs in the end, proving that as long as there is one artist with talent, ingenuity and a genuine desire to entertain, the show will go on (LESS IS MORE). Using old garbage bags, dirty laundry and newspapers, Howard fashions a sumptuously tacky finale culminating in his grand entrance as a huge picnic table. One look at that and who wouldn’t yell “whoop dee-doo!”
co-author & co-lyricist
Conceived, Created and Developed by
Charles Catanese Howard Crabtree Dick Gallagher
Phillip George Peter Morris Mark Waldrop
Songs and Sketches by
Dick Gallagher Peter Morris Mark Waldrop
Additional Material by
Brad Ellis Jack Feldman David Rambo
Bruce Sussman Eric Schorr
Directed by Phillip George
Original Musical Direction by Fred Barton
Musical Director/ Pianist Matthew Ward
Additional Staging & Tap Choreography David Lowenstein
Howard Crabtree Keith Cromwell Tommy Femia
David Lowenstein Peter Morris Jay Rogers
Ron Skobel Alan Tulin Mark Waldrop