The Belles of Bedlam began as an idea, much like the gleam in a father’s eye. In the year 2000, the then entertainment director, Gerald Zepeda, noted a lack of musical entertainment in comparison to the Faire in years past, as well as in comparison to other fairs and festivals. Imagining that a women’s bawdy singing group would be just what was needed, Gerald chose Amethyst Mariani to organize and direct the project. Amethyst was a veteran performer of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. Her most recent roles had been as a theme character, the Mistress of Misrule, and as the director of the Court of Misrule. She eagerly took up the challenge of creating this new ensemble of sultry songstresses.
Gerald, Amethyst, and a couple of others came up with the name of this new group in a brainstorming session. And thus, the Belles of Bedlam were born.
A name chosen, Amethyst knew that she wanted more than just a group of singers. She wanted to use elements of Music Hall and Vaudeville, elements which would distinguish the Belles and their performances. Amethyst chose the premise of a group of sisters, half English and half Irish (all of whom had names beginning with the letter “M”), who ran the family inn & tavern. Amethyst asked Ruth E Daughters to be her assistant director, and Wes Wright to be her musical director. With that, the Belles distinguished themselves once more – this time as a women’s singing group with a male element. This touch of testosterone would add a whole new dynamic to Belles of Bedlam shows.
The Belles first season, Northern 2000, they performed within the environmental area of the Faire’s inn. In their second season, Northern 2001, the Belles of Bedlam took to the stage for the first time. Yet in neither year were they able to realize their full bawdy potential, due to the political climate of the time. That did not come about ‘til their third season and first Southern, in 2002. The Belles quickly gained popularity with their naughty songs and ribald antics.
Tragically, the Belles of Bedlam lost their beloved director and founder in the autumn of 2003 to a rare blood disease. Amethyst’s passing was a very personal loss for the group, as well as for its individual members.
After several seasons of re-discovering their path, Catherine Campbell and Ruth E Daughters emerged as co-directors of the group. In the years that followed, the Belles of Bedlam honed their skills in harmonies and musicality. Yet they never lost touch with their vaudevillian roots, which had made them such a favorite with their fans. In 2011 the band decided to refine and are now a strictly female group. Now led by Ruth and powered by each member taking on a share of the responsibilities, the Belles of Bedlam are striving to reach even greater levels of excellence, always with an eye to giving the best possible entertainment experience for their fans.
“I still cry every time I see them perform, they bring emotional joy I can't contain inside!” – Crystal Ojeda