Fringe 2017 Review: Am I Pretty Now?19 July 2017 / by Karen Young (author)
Am I Pretty Now? is part of this year’s musical lineup at the Toronto Fringe Festival. For a sixty minute show, Am I Pretty Now? covers a variety topics while keeping a fair balance between its comedic and heartfelt moments. The show is based on the life of Stephanie Herrera, who created and stars in this musical. In the show, we learn about Herrera’s life: her childhood dreams about becoming an actress and her struggle with her body image as a kid and as a woman.
The show begins with the song, "Vogue" by Madonna and the audience sees a recovering Herrera. She’s just been through several plastic surgery procedures and she’s happy about her new appearance. We then jump back in time to Herrera’s childhood. She talks about being a first generation Canadian with a Mexican and Ukrainian background and growing up with a mother who was a topless dancer. Herrera reveals her personal battle with her body image: going through puberty and comparing herself with other girls, including her sister.
She later shares a sweet story about how she met her husband at the Phoenix, sparking a connection with him after reciting a line from his favourite movie. After having four kids with him, her body changed again and her battle with her body image continued. She took a break from acting and after her kids grew up, she started looking for acting roles again. Her physical appearance after becoming a mother meant she was “too fat” to play a lead role, but she wasn’t “fat enough” to play the “fat and funny” friend. Herrera shares how she didn’t feel happy about her new body and later she got several plastic surgery procedures. At one point, she wanted to do even more surgeries, but her doctor insisted that they would not be healthy for her.
Herrera reveals a vulnerable moment when she shares that sometimes she’s happy with herself, sometimes she’s not and that’s okay. To close the musical, Herrera finishes with a hilarious song before playing "Scars To Your Beautiful" by Alessia Cara as she leaves the stage.
Plastic surgery isn’t something that is typically covered in the media, but Herrera discusses it in a personal, touching and even comedic way. Some funny highlights of this show include a recurring appearance of her spirit animal (who happens to be Liza Minelli) and Siri. The show balances heartfelt and reflective moments with quirky songs performed by Herrera herself. If the show comes back to Toronto again, it’s definitely one to check out!