Flahooley was a failed Broadway musical that ended up being remembered for various elements, most of them musical, so that the original Broadway cast album became a treasured keepsake for theater buffs. In particular, it marked the Broadway debut of Barbara Cook, who would go on to much greater success in The Music Man, among other shows. Also, it featured a score written by composer Sammy Fain and lyricist E.Y. Harburg that combined their chief attributes: the music was tuneful and the words were witty and clever. Harburg was also the co-librettist with Fred Saidy, the same team that had written the much more successful Finian's Rainbow. As in that show, they combined a fascination with fantasy (here there was a genie in a magic lamp instead of a leprechaun) and an interest in left-leaning social commentary (here there was a critique of capitalism instead of racism). All that was to the good, but the story, concerning a toy factory making a laughing doll (Flahooley, of course) that gets mixed up with a bunch of people from Arabia (apparently as an excuse to introduce the multi-octave exotic singer Yma Sumac), was too complicated to follow. The show opened on May 14, 1951, and closed only a month later. Happily, that was enough to justify the cast recording, which demonstrates the charm of Fain's score (even if the influence of Richard Rodgers is apparent) and Cook's early talent, notably in the songs "Here's to Your Illusions" and "He's Only Wonderful." Sumac, whose special material was written by Moises Vivanco, wordlessly wails from a high soprano to a very low alto, her appearances seeming random and irrelevant. The album has been reissued periodically, demonstrating its long-term appeal to collectors.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann