If someone asked you to go with them to see a musical about plastic surgery, you’d be forgiven for thinking “Huh?! Sounds pretty weird but what the heck, it’s Fringe, I’ll go.” And that would be the right decision! “Am I Pretty Now?”: A musical romp through plastic surgery (Stephanie Herrera), playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, is wonderful. At the end of the show the man sitting next to me turned to the woman he was with and said “Wow! That was great.” which pretty much summed up what I was thinking.
Stephanie Herrera wrote and performs the one-person autobiographical show and she’s a talent powerhouse.
Although she’s telling the story of her surgeries and why she had them the show doesn’t feel like a story show. It really does feel like a musical – even though there really aren’t that many songs.
Her presentation reminded me of the way that the dancers in A Chorus Line told their stories. It’s very polished, theatrical rather than intimate. It needs to be to hold the whole musical theme together. It’s certainly the best performance I’ve seen so far at Fringe.
The show is funny. Liza Minnelli makes a couple of appearances as Herrera’s “spirit animal”. One of the songs includes the line “Why do I pee every time I cough, laugh, or sneeze?” which has potential to become an anthem for women who’ve delivered babies.
The thing that raises it above a fluffy fun show is Herrera’s honesty about realizing why she had all the surgery; of having to explore the feeling of not fitting in culturally, physically, or emotionally. I could feel her pain when she talked about discovering that having all the surgery didn’t change anything, the world was the same after the surgeries as it was before.
“Am I Pretty Now?” feels more developed than most Fringe shows. I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely one to add to your ‘must see’ list.
- “Am I Pretty Now?”: A musical romp through plastic surgery! plays at the Al Green Theatre. (750 Spadina Ave.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warnings: Unsuitable for Minors, Sexual Content, Mature Language.
- This venue is barrier-free. Note that only certain building entrances are wheelchair-accessible. Accessible seating is in front of the front row, and may have poor sightlines for certain productions.
- Friday July 7th, 01:15 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 08:45 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 10:15 pm
- Monday July 10th, 06:45 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 07:00 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 03:30 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 09:45 pm
Photo of Stephanie Herrera by Giancarlo Osaben