(View more pics in the 99-Cent Only Calendar Girl slideshow.)
You know how Project Runway inevitably has the inevitable segment where the aspiring designers are asked to assemble a stylish outfit from stuff purchased at a grocery store–coffee filters, tablecloths, et cetera? Well, the costumes in Ken Roht's musical 99 Cent Only Calendar Girl Competition are kind of like that, if all the designers were gleefully, exuberantly intent on pissing off judges Nina Garcia and Michael Kors. Which is to say, drag queen-esque. Miss July's dress is reminiscent of an Independence Day picnic table (and I think, made of an actual picnic tablecloth). The bustier worn by Miss October (“I'm the one with the orange hair, like a pumpkin,” s/he said) is encrusted with flower-shaped soap petals.
The winner gets to heft a scepter made of a colander, and ascend a dais shaped like a giant cat food tin. (For more photos of the outfits, click here for the slideshow.)
The play itself is a fun, frothy light romp, something you see when you're in the mood to drink and giggle–King Lear it isn't. Like Webber's Cats, there's no hardcore storyline, just plenty of singing and dancing and audience participation including some throwing of ping pong balls and inflatable 99-cent beach balls, and an intermission “vote” for your favorite Calendar Girl. (You can read our reviewer's critique of the show here.)
My favorite part of the musical was a Bollywood number instigated by Miss August. My second favorite part was a robot dance, reminiscent of the best of the They Might Be Giants oeuvre. My third favorite part is probably the neat little Bootleg Theater itself, where the play is currently running ('til Feb. 1). “Oh, you've never seen the show before? You're in for a treat. These actors can really sing,” one woman said to me, as we filled our brown paper baggies with popcorn from the popcorn machine near the bar. She'd seen the show six times.
At some point following the audience vote, the Calendar Girl semi-finalists come out riding shopping carts.
“Well,” said another woman to her husband as we filed out afterward, “that was the craziest show I've ever seen.”