Howard Crabtree, the off-Broadway costume designer whose 1993 musical Whoop-Dee-Doo!, with its colossal and campy headdresses, became a cult hit, died June 28 in Pennsylvania. The 41-year-old reportedly died of AIDS.
Born in Missouri, Crabtree started in show business as a dancer, then turned to costume design, then, and most notably, to writing high-spirited, campy musicals. Early works, Howard and Drew Meet the Invisible Man and Whatnot (written with Mark Waldrop and Dick Gallagher), led to Whoop-Dee-Doo!, a.k.a. Howard Crabtree's Whoop-Dee-Doo!, in which Crabtree starred and designed distinctive costumes.
Crabtree's and Waldrop's latest musical, Howard Crabtree's When Pigs Fly, is scheduled to begin off-Broadway previews Aug. 1 at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre in New York.