Flahooley

FlahooleyOriginal Broadway Cast, 1951 (Capitol/DRG) 4 Stars (4 / 5) With a title such as this, could you possibly expect something ordinary? Flahooley was the brainchild of E. Y. Harburg, who wanted to satirize big business, mass production, and workers’ rights. Harburg co-wrote and co-directed with Fred Saidy; Sammy Fain provided the music. Because the show dealt with toy dolls (called Flahooleys), Fain opted for fittingly childlike music. He also provided a spirited march in “The Spirit of Capsulanti,” and a nifty square dance in “Jump, Little Chillin’.” Harburg was still at the top of his wordplay game, rhyming “Nicholas” with “ridic-u-lous” and “psychiatry” with “buy a tree.” This was the first time that Broadway ever encountered Barbara Cook (she was 23), and the first and last time that it heard Peruvian singing sensation Yma Sumac, with her eight-octave range. If Sumac’s three songs seem not to be show tunes, that’s because they weren’t written by Fain but by Sumac’s husband and muse, Moises Vivanco — and they are terrific.  — Peter Filichia