Whoop Dee Doo brings joyful enthusiasm to Interlochen Arts Academy

Known for their boundary-bending performances, the troupe worked with Interlochen students to devise a piece of original theatre, which featured fantastical costumes and colorful art installations.

A student dressed as a bar of soap stands in front of a pretend washer and dryer.

A few weeks ago, a whirlwind of creative energy known as Whoop Dee Doo descended upon Interlochen’s campus. Are you scratching your head and asking, "What on earth is Whoop Dee Doo?" That’s completely understandable. Here’s the inside scoop.

In the words of Clyde Sheets, Director of Interdisciplinary Arts, the answer is pretty straightforward: "Whoop Dee Doo is a performance-devising group that has been around for 17 years." But it's not your typical performance group. Whoop Dee Doo is all about breaking boundaries, transcending age limits, and connecting communities through the magic of collaborative art and live performance. The group is known for the high-energy, colorful art installations and variety shows that they present around the world.

So why did Whoop Dee Doo come to Interlochen, and what remarkable creations did they unleash there?

Together with students in the Interdisciplinary Arts major, Whoop Dee Doo members spent the week devising an original show.

“We figured out what we wanted to do based on the gifts and talents that people have, plus what they wanted to do,” says Steven Speciale, Instructor of Interdisciplinary Arts. “Everyone was involved. So it wasn’t a top-down show—it was built from the ground up.”

All of Whoop Dee Doo’s performances have an aesthetic based on 1980s public-access television, and their Interlochen show was no different. Students created outlandish costumes which allowed the cast to dress up as everything from a bottle of soap to a lint monster. They built a set from materials like paper, plastic, tape, recycled cardboard, and papier-mâché. Prominent set pieces included an oversized sink and a washer and dryer, which were used in unexpected ways during the show. 

“We had a Singer-Songwriter major singing out of the dryer and a rock band doing a cover of a Nirvana song in the washing machine,” says Speciale. 

A student dances in front of a large pretend washer and dryer.
Several students play a song inside of a pretend dryer.
Students, including one dressed as a lint monster. clap in front of a pretend washer and dryer.

The project came together with astonishing rapidity. Everything the audience saw on the show’s October 4th premiere was the result of three days of set work and two days of rehearsals.

“We were trying to make the most ambitious and polished show that we could in just a few days,” says Speciale. “I was thrilled to see our students dig in so willingly. It can be intimidating when there’s no plan and it’s just a blank piece of paper, so you have to come up with what you’re going to do next. To see them all embrace that discomfort was incredible. I’m really proud of them.”

Sheets says he was delighted to welcome Whoop Dee Doo’s unique energy to Interlochen Arts Academy.

“Whoop Dee Doo tells honest stories about real people and their lives,” he says. “There's a whimsy to it, and there's a sense of joy in their creative process.”

In the past, Whoop Dee Doo has collaborated with universities, festivals, arts organizations, non-profit groups, and museums. Participants and audiences have ranged from ages 4-80, and the group welcomes individuals of all backgrounds and abilities. They have been recognized for their work with a Franklin Furnace Grant and an Abrons Arts Center Fellowship. 

Whoop Dee Doo tells honest stories about real people and their lives. There's a whimsy to it, and there's a sense of joy in their creative process.

Clyde Sheets, Director of Interdisciplinary Arts

Students in Interlochen’s Interdisciplinary Arts major have the opportunity to study a variety of artistic disciplines including creative writing, music, film & new media, visual arts, theatre, and dance. They learn to apply practical skills in arts leadership and management while designing and devising original creative work.

Interlochen Arts Academy is the nation’s premier boarding arts high school, where emerging artists transform passion and potential into purpose. Students pursue pre-professional arts training alongside a robust academic curriculum, preparing them to excel in the arts and beyond.

Learn more about Interdisciplinary Arts at Interlochen Arts Academy.