Show Business: Alive and Well

Youth dies. Life hurts. Love warms.

Understanding heals. The wounds and balms of the human condition are so commonplace that men eventually experience them without noticing. It is only when art magnifies truth that audiences become aware of it—and of themselves. One of the most powerful magnifiers currently in use is a cabaret show with the unwieldy title, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.

Two years ago, when the show opened in Greenwich Village, the logical response to the title might have been: So what? The songs were written by...