By Playwright Joanne Koch, author of Raunchy Little Musical
I am thrilled to tell you that “Raunchy Little Musical” is a laugh and song fest inspired by bawdy comic
Belle Barth. Nationally – known actor/singer/comedienne Laura Freeman brings Belle back in style, with jokes that still might make you blush and songs inspired by the late, great comic, delivered with Freeman’s celebrated voice.
I first realized Belle’s comic potential when I teamed her up with Sophie Tucker and Totie Fields in our off-Broadway and East Coast hit “Sophie Totie & Belle.”
As New York Times critic Alvin Klein wrote, “Sophie Tucker was the biggest star. Totie Fields came
next. But if Belle—Miami’s answer to Lenny Bruce—is the star of this occasion, blame her defiantly funny, audience winning material.”
I collaborated on the musicals “Soul Sisters,” “Jesting with Danny Kaye,” and “American Klezmer
discovering with the Klezmer musical the remarkable team of Grammy-nominated composer Ilya Levinson an clever lyricist Owen Kalt. As each of these shows was produced and applauded, I also recognized that women comics were breaking new ground. That’s when I drafted “If I embarrass you, tell your friends.” The title was taken from one of Belle’s most popular “party” records.
Back in the fifties, Belle was too blue for Ed Sullivan—or any other TV programs. Her R-rated nightclub
act allowed audiences to laugh about sex as never before. Recorded on so-called “party records,” Belle’s outrageous jokes, comments and ditties provided millions of fans with the joy of laughing out loud about what was then taboo territory.
Songs by Ilya Levinson and Owen Kalt brought out the “Dirty Little Secrets” that audiences for Belle’s
club act and records had savored. When these songs were peppered with Belle’s night club jokes, audiences roared. Yet their ballads were touching. Readings and an early production under the “embarrass” title made it clear that we were on to something.
Meanwhile Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman and the Amazing Mrs. Maisel were revealing that we might
be ready for the return of the daring and defiantly funny Belle Barth.
Enter the dynamic veteran director Jimmy Ferraro. He was just the person to take moments from Belle’s life in the script and make them at once hilarious and touching. (Like the time in court for her 4th divorce when the judge ordered Belle to tell a particularly raunchy joke right then and there. Of course, she obliged. Weak with laughter, the judge adjourned court early that day.)
Our gift to you this holiday season is laughter. Come and enjoy our “Raunchy Little Musical,”
.—Joanne, Ilya, Owen & Jimmy
“Raunchy Little Musical – Belle Barth is Back” plays December 29th and 30th at 7:30PM at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Avenue, downtown Skokie, Il.
Tickets are priced from $28- $34. For tickets Call: 847-677-7761 or Online
NOTE: For Mature Audiences
Belle Barth: 1911-1971
Photos are courtesy of Joanne Koch