an epic vaudeville

based upon the life and times of George Metesky,

the Mad Bomber of New York City

Book and lyrics by Jay Feldman

Music by Fred Sokolow

© Feldman/Sokolow

Before Theodore Kaczynski or Timothy McVeigh, before Osama bin Laden and al Qaida, before the word "terrorism" was part of our daily vocabulary, there was George Metesky, the notorious Mad Bomber who held New York City hostage in the nineteen-fifties with his homemade pipe bombs.

A LOUD NOISE IN A PUBLIC PLACE spans four decades in the life of George Metesky. In this Brechtian-style musical, George is an Everyman figure who takes on the established power structure in a quixotic quest for justice and, despite repeated betrayals, rebuffs and indignities, never gives up in his relentlessly determined though monstrously misguided battle for fair play.

George Metesky's acts were the manifestation of a profound alienation, the desperate last resort of a man powerless in the face of overwhelming and indifferent power. Ultimately, the play poses the question, What is the proper response to, and is there an antidote for the dehumanization and depersonalization of life in industrial/post-industrial society?

A LOUD NOISE IN A PUBLIC PLACE has received readings at the Matrix Theater in L.A. (directed by Joel Zwick, with Andrew Robinson as George, Arman Shimmerman as the Newsie, and Wayne Tippett as the Foreman/Editor/Police Chief), and the New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Miss. (Eudora Welty New Play Series). The play was performed in a staged reading at the River Stage Playwrights Festival in Sacramento, directed by Frank Condon.

You can hear a selection of songs from A LOUD NOISE IN A PUBLIC PLACE by clicking on the titles below. The music parallels the chronology of the action — each song is in a musical style of the era in which it occurs in the story. In this way, the music helps the audience move through four decades, as each song evokes its historical setting.

(mp3 files may take a while to load)

The Ballad of George Metesky (1931) - Newsie

Power (1931) - Foreman, Con Ed Workers
Our Baby Brother (1933) - Anna, Mae
And Just Because He's Human (1935) - George, Con Ed Lawyer
If I Were You (1936) - George, Mrs. Evans
Love in the Automat (1937) - Female Singer, Blind Saxaphone Player
A Man Can Only Take So Much (1940) - George
A Man Can Only Take So Much (reprise) (reprise) - George

Introduction to Act Two - Instrumental
Mad Bomber Boogie (1951) - George
George's Lament (1955) - George
We've Got To Have Him (1956) - Police Chief, Cardinal Spellman, Dr. Brussel
Surrender (1957) - Newspaper Editor, George
Tell Us Why (1957) - Two Reporters, Two Spectators
People Like Us (1965) - George, O'Ryan

Finale - Newsie, Ensemble