Jay Rogers, who’s lost his battle with cancer, was a wonderfully impish cabaret star, with impeccable comic timing. Totally likeable fellow, on stage and off stage. I was so happy to be able to include him on an album I produced this year, “Chip Deffaa’s My Man.” He’s a total delight, singing an original song by Barry Kleinbort, “Leading Lady Valentine.” I’m so glad he was able to record it for me. No one else could have put over that special material with such great charm. I would not have recorded that song had he been unavailable. And I’d hoped to record him again. I first saw him, several decades ago, in a witty cabaret show at Eighty-Eights, singing songs of George Winters.
I loved his work, too, in two of the best gay musical shows I ever saw, Howard Crabtree’s Whoop-Dee-Doo and When Pigs Fly (for which he received a 1997 Drama Desk Nomination for “Best Featured Actor in a Musical”). He enlivened four other Off-Broadway shows as well, but those two shows really made great use of his gifts.
He won two Bistro Awards for his work as a cabaret performer. He directed cabaret shows for such notables as Carolyn Montgomery, Richard Skipper, Sue Matsuki, and Lypsinka. He directed and performed in various editions of Ricky Ritzel’s Broadway.
He appeared in such films as Home with Amy Sedaris, The Train, and Christmas Eve.
Jay was diagnosed with cancer in January of this year, and was treated with chemo and radiation. But the cancer was very aggressive. Jay was a very well-liked performer and director. And I will miss him.