Joel Grey is the above-the-title star of this elaborate revival of the 1966 musical set in Nazi-era Berlin, but the show’s real strength lies in the performances of its two leading ladies. Alyson Reed, whose talents were buried in the dismal film version of A Chorus Line, is a revelation as Sally Bowles, the determinedly decadent, self-invented cabaret chanteuse; Reed’s delivery of the show’s title song is both thrilling and devastating, a perfectly etched miniature portrait of a talented woman confronting her own fear and spiritual emptiness. And in the role of Fraulein Schneider, the middle-aged landlady who wearily opts for survival over love when she breaks off her engagement to a Jewish man, diva Regina Resnik explores every nuance of the dramatic John Kander-Fred Ebb score with a depth and strength all too rare in contemporary musical theater. This Cabaret is an extraordinary mix of commercial pizzazz and serious artistry, and admirers of the genre should not miss it. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, through March 22. Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, matinees Saturday and Sunday, 2 PM; $10.50-$34.50.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joan Marcus–Bob Marshak.