Duets: tunes & snappy patter
The Metropolitan Room
November 3, 2014
Musical Direction by Bobby Peaco
Recently married on the first full moon in January (so they could remember the date), performers Jay Rogers and Aaron Morishita threw caution to the wind and decided to put their relationship to the ultimate test: could they do a cabaret show together without killing each other? Based on Duets, their terrifically entertaining evening of tunes and snappy patter, the answer is a resounding yes!
Both established performers in their own right, Rogers in shows like Whoop-Dee-Doo!, When Pigs Fly and Yes, This Is My Real Voice! and Morishita as a member of the infamous ‘Lounge-O-Leers’ with Ricky Ritzel, the two form an unlikely and persuasive on-stage partnership. Rogers is a true vaudevillian with a character voice that sounds like a cross between Beatrice Lillie, Elsa Maxwell and a bassoon! He’s quick with a snappy one-liner, but can turn around and break your heart the next second with an obscure ballad. Morishita, on the other hand, has a light, lyric tenor which is quite beautiful, and assumes the role of straight man (if you will…) to Rogers’ comic with a mixture of shock and awe. Together, they are hilariously funny and have an innate sense of how far to push their collective envelope in terms of ‘working blue’ and giving their audience what they want.
Since they’re both veterans who know their way around a selling a song, their material – both obscure and well-known – is first-rate and they perform it all with style and class. From comedy numbers like Dames At Sea‘s “The Beguine” and Cabaret‘s “It Couldn’t Please Me More,” to a silly ditty like “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” (performed with ukelele and a banjo-lele, no less), Rogers & Morishita’s ability to get laughs is never in doubt. What’s a surprise is the intensity of devotion and heart evidenced in serious fare like Annie Get Your Gun‘s “They Say It’s Wonderful,” Pippin’s “Love Song” and a sumptuously romantic “One Kiss” (with arrangement courtesy of musical director Bobby Peaco) from Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant Follies.
The centerpieces of Rogers & Morishita’s Duets are two of the greatest Broadway duets ever written: “I Don’t Know His Name” from Bock & Harnick’s jewel-box masterpiece, She Loves Me; and “A Little Priest” from Sondheim’s epic masterpiece, Sweeney Todd. Both are performed as tour-de-forces of showmanship and chutzpah, not to mention memorization, and you never for a second doubt Rogers & Morishita’s commitment to the material or the spirit of the characters they’re playing. So, after all that, what could they possibly do as an encore? What else but “The Stepsister’s Lament” from Cinderella. Whoever said a couple of gay boys couldn’t have an axe to grind never met Jay Rogers and Aaron Morishita. Could a bus & truck tour of Mame be far off?