Theater: Carnage at Coney

I Had a Ball is a misaddressed musical mailbag. Buddy Hackett, a droll fellow of manic and mournful mien, should be readdressed to oldtime burlesque, where his earthy urbanisms could blue the air like cigar smoke. The frenetically agitated dances should be restored to the speeded-up silent film. The nondescript music should be sent back to recompose itself. The book has never left its natural state—pulp.

The inanimate star of the evening is Sam, a crystal ball that tells the future incorrectly. Hackett, a Coney Island sharper turned pseudo-Freudian mind-sweeper, has great faith in...

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