This was a upper end purchase of $5.00. A friend of mine asked me why I had not posted any Yma Sumac. Mainly because her stuff falls in the range of collectibles and not typically under $5.00. So when I found this, I jumped on it, despite knowing little about the production it came from.
Yma Sumac (1922-2008), was a Peruvian queen of exotica music. Known for her five octave voice, she appeared on radio and made records in Argentina before moving to New York City in 1946 where she performed with her husband. She also made numerous records as well as concert appearances around the world. She started in a handful of movies, including Secret of the Incas, the film the inspired the Indiana Jones series. Her work has also been featured in advertising as well as in movies, such as one I always like referencing, The Big Lebowski. The song below was used in the trampoline scene at Jackie Treehorns.
A better bio on Sumac from her Website
There is a rumor that Sumac is actually one Amy Camus, a housewife from New Jersey. I do not believe this as I feel there would be more conclusive evidence on the net at this point.
An article with a link to another article on the subject of Amy Camus
Which leads us to this production, Flahooley by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy with music by Sammy Fain. Harburg, who wrote several US standards as well as the songs for The Wizard of Oz, had recently found himself on the wrong end of House Un-American Activities Committee and as a result, blacklisted in Hollywood, despite not being a Communist. Not a stranger to political satire as his work, Finian’s Rainbow shows, he wrote this play based on Joe McCarthy and the Communist witch hunt. Adjustments were made and several references were toned down, but still, from what I am told, the play was still very relevant to the current political climate.
Entry on the Broadway Database
As far as what I can piece together, the story focuses on a toy factory. One inventor is about to reveal a talking doll to the company’s board of directors (in early scripts, the dolls said “Dirty Red” when turned around until Harburg toned that part down). A delegation of Saudis interrupt and ask the toy maker for help repairing their genie lamp. It would seem if I am reading this right, that Saudi Arabia has run out of oil and need the genie to return to bring back prosperity.
The CEO is charmed by the Arabian princess and gives the task to the inventor, who hopes to use the genie to become rich enough to marry his sweetheart. However, the genie, who is unclear on capitalism, starts to give the talking dolls away, causing panic and a witch hunt. I am not sure how it resolves. I do believe puppets and marionettes were used pretty extensively, however.
Flahooley premiered on Broadway on May 14, 1951 and closed a few months later after 40 performances. Even though some parts were watered down, the theater going public at the time was not ready for anti-communist satire as both the Cold War and McCarthyism were in full swing. It should be noted that the original production marked the Broadway debut of Barbara Cook, best known for originating the role of Marion Peroo in The Music Man. A revival production was done in the US in 1998. Two productions were also done in London, one in 1997 and one in 2012 as seen below.
Getting back to Sumac, she landed the role of the Arabian princess and has three songs on the album. They were all written by her husband, Moises Vivanco and all pretty much demonstrate her beautiful range. As far as the rest of the album goes, it is ok. There are some decent songs including ” Who Says There Ain’t No Santa Claus” and “Springtime Cometh”.
For a sample, I went with the opening number which was a pretty good poke at McCarthy’s stooges, “You Too Can Be A Puppet”. As far as Sumac’s songs go, after some thought and listening, I settled on “Najala’s Lament”. I felt this best showed her range both high and low although I almost went with “Birds”.
Despite the three songs by Sumac, this is really meh for me. It seems like a lot to pick at for three Sumac tunes. Perhaps if I paid a dollar for this, my opinion would be different.