New Musical in Manhattan Flahooley (music by Sammy Fain; book & lyrics by E. Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy; produced by Cheryl Crawford in association with Harburg & Saidy) is a lavish attempt by the creators of Finian's Rainbow to repeat their success. They fail, in part perhaps from too laboriously repeating their formula. Once again they have mingled the tinkling sheep bells of fantasy with the braying loudspeakers of satire, this time robbing the Arabian Nights while ribbing American Big Business. What results is all the hurly-burly of a carnival with very little of the gaiety.
The story tells of a young man in a huge toy factory who invents a laughing doll called a flahooley. Then, by rubbing a magic lamp, he conjures up a genie who can turn out flahooleys at will. The genie soon gluts the market and becomes the object of an inflamed and rabid genie hunt, with everybody vainly trying to send him back to his native lamp.
This is more or less Flahooley's own difficulty. Its magic lamp gets to seem more like a Pandora's box; its story grows as cluttered as a playroom on Christmas night; and a show that should strive for lightness seems to be selling itself by weight. Much of Sammy Fain's music has genuine bounce and swing. But under the handicap of its surroundings, it often suggests the playroom with the radio going. A so-so cast includes Singer Yma Sumac, whose voice spans four octaves. It is Bil & Cora Baird's puppets that are much the gayest, most stylish, least wooden things in the show.