Almost every musical has one — a musical theater duet for a male and female. Broadway shows are littered with beautiful duets! So, when you’re choosing a male-female musical duet for a concert, you should be all set, right?
Well…sometimes. When you’re singing a duet as a standalone piece, you need a few things:
- The lyrics should make sense outside of the musical
- The melody should be compelling enough to keep people listening
- The vocal lines must suit the man and the woman who are singing
When you start to look at different Broadway duets, you’ll find that a lot of them don’t fit the bill. So, we’ve done the work for you! These are 10 of our favorite musical theater duets for a male and a female; each one is strong enough to stand on its own during a performance.
1. When You Want a Contemporary Musical Duet for a Male and Female: “Flight”
“Flight” might be one of the most versatile songs in the musical theatre canon right now. (Although since it’s not technically from a Broadway musical, maybe it doesn’t actually count as theatre?) It’s by Craig Carnelia, and it works for absolutely everyone — it can be a solo, a duet for two women, a male/male duet, or for our purposes, a male female musical duet.
We can’t say enough about this piece! It’s got some delicious harmonies, and those long, luxurious, slow runs feel so good. It’s like a Pilates workout for your voice! Check out the original Sutton Foster version here. This one definitely isn’t easy, but if you can get the right blend, it’s so gorgeous. Everything we could find used a seriously high tenor, but we’d also love to hear it with the male part dropped an octave.
2. A Fun, Energetic Friend Duet: “Two Lost Souls”
“Two Lost Souls” is a male/female duet from Damn Yankees that isn’t usually done in a concert setting. We’re not sure why! It’s fun and frothy, with some seriously gorgeous harmonies, to boot. Plus, it’s nice and short, which makes it a great palette cleanser between more serious or dramatic songs. This duet is a great option for a man and woman with personality and a sense of fun. The more fun you have onstage, the more your audience will love it. An extra bonus? This is one of those Broadway duets for a male and a female that’s not a love song!
As you can see from the video below, this is a great option for a mezzo belter and a baritone. However, it’s also an easy sing if you’re not a belter, and it still sounds gorgeous. (In fact, the harmonies actually resonate better with a more Golden Age of Broadway tone.) We especially love it as a nice vocal rest for a soprano during a long concert. The notes are fairly low, but don’t be fooled — those harmonies are deceptively difficult! If you’re right on pitch, it’s stunning.
3. For a Touch of Cole Porter Sweetness: “Delovely”
And now, for a something totally different! It doesn’t get any sweeter than “Delovely”, a bubbly love song from the musical Anything Goes. It’s super easy to sing — not to mention, flat-out adorable. When it comes to musical theatre duets for a male and female, this is one of the classics.
This duet has that classic Cole Porter flair that audiences adore. It’s fast-paced, which is a (de)lovely change of pace from the big ballads. The melody is bouncy, just a little bit jazzy, and absolutely delightful to sing. The range is easy, so it’s pretty accessible for most voice types. The real star, though, is the lyrics. This is Cole Porter at his best, making up funny words and delicious rhymes that are nonsensical…but somehow, they still make sense. Go ahead — embrace the ridiculousness! This song is all about characters who are so giddy in love that they’re inventing words together in a charming game. Get this song right, and your audience won’t be able to stop smiling.
4. A Male-Female Musical Theater Duet for Legit Singers: “How Could I Ever Know”
Want to break your listeners’ hearts? This duet, which is from the Broadway musical The Secret Garden, will do the trick. When it happens in the show, a ghost is finally able to see and talk to her (live) husband. It’s a heartbreaking and beautiful moment, and this gorgeous duet is just brimming with emotion. It doesn’t require much staging, but if you can really use the lyrics and bring the love and longing, you can leave the audience near tears.
We’ll be honest — this duet is designed to showcase a legit soprano. The tenor part has some nice notes, but it’s the woman that really shines. At the end, the male and female voices come together in some absolutely stunning harmonies. Get your high voice in shape for this one, because it requires a bit of vocal gymnastics that will be brutal if you’re not ready and warm.
5. A Duet for Disney Lovers: “I See the Light”
Okay, so this duet isn’t technically a musical theater duet for a man and a woman, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. Don’t write it off just because it was first sung by cartoons. Or because it’s Mandy Moore. (We know.) With its simple piano accompaniment and lovely melody, this song is a joy to sing and listen to.
We were skeptical too, but turns out, it’s a huge crowd pleaser — even when you’re singing for die-hard theater purists. In fact, if you don’t announce that it’s from the Disney musical Tangled, we’re willing to bet most of your audience won’t even realize.
Naturally, this duet is a love song. It’s an absolute joy to sing — the musical line feels natural (except maybe for the “and at last” on the chorus, which seems to have been written specifically for Moore’s style), and it’s just so pleasing to the ear! When the lines come together, the result is so, so beautiful. Bonus points if you have some chemistry, because your audience won’t be able to stop themselves from going “awwww.”
Skip to 1:10 for the singing!
6. To Show off Your Passion and Intensity: “So in Love”
This one is a classic musical theatre duet for a reason — it’s beautiful and so haunting. We love that it works for a male and a female singer of any age. In most cases, it’s sung by a soprano and a bass/baritone, but a tenor with a hefty bottom range might be able to make it work. Also, it’s certainly low enough to be appropriate for a mezzo. The two vocal lines often sing in unison, but it works — and it makes those little moments of harmony that much more affecting.
This duet is best for a man and a woman with some serious chemistry. In the musical (Kiss Me, Kate), the characters’ relationship is a bit fraught, which gives you the chance to infuse a bit of hurt and anger in there with the obvious passion and adoration. The real challenge on this one is finding decent sheet music for a duet; in many versions, it’s offered as a soprano solo.
7. For a Man and a Woman with Excellent Comedic Instincts: “The Song That Goes Like This”
This duet is from the musical Spamalot, and it is an absolute gem. You must have a sense of humor to do this one! Have you ever heard the acting advice that says that actors in comedies don’t know they’re in a comedy? If you can capture that sense in this song, you’re golden. These male and female singers are absolutely ridiculous and melodramatic — and the humor is laugh-out-loud funny if you can take them seriously.
If you have two legit singers with big personalities, this duet is a huge crowd pleaser. The lyrics are absurd, and you have lots of freedom for fun staging. The piece also benefits from a bit of intentional overacting, which audiences love. The trick? Have courage and commit to the ridiculousness. When it’s working, the singers have fun, the audience has fun, and everyone is smiling to the last note. When it comes to musical theatre, it doesn’t get much better than that.
8. When You Need a Quiet, Intimate Moment in a Concert: “They Were You”
Sweet and simple, “They Were You” is ideal for two singers with excellent chemistry. After all, it’s easy to fake chemistry when you’re singing a big, passionate ballad — but with a song that’s this intimate, it is impossible to fake a connection. It’s from the Broadway musical The Fantasticks, and it’s sung by two characters who have found their way back to each other after a long separation. They’re baring their souls, but not dramatically; this is a duet for a man and a woman with some life experience and hard-earned wisdom. They know who they are, and they know they’re meant to be together.
The key here is love. If you can capture the simplicity of the emotion that runs between the characters, you’ll have audiences holding their breath at the end so as not to miss a single word. We love that this musical theatre duet shows off the voices of the man and woman, and then comes together in a harmony that’s perfect in its simplicity.
9. A Musical Duet that Shows off a Strong Soprano and Baritone/Bass: “Sarah Brown Eyes”
First of all: how ridiculous are Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell? They’re two of the most perfect voices in the contemporary musical theatre. If you’re like the rest of us mortals, this duet is a fun challenge for a male and a female! It’s loaded with opportunities to flex your vocal chords. The key is to add just enough jazz into it so it’s true to your voice without being a carbon copy of the stage version of Ragtime.
The real challenge in this song is the number of times that “Sarah Brown Eyes” is repeated. If you’ve studied voice or choral singing at all, you know that repeated phrases can never sound the same. We love, love love the way Audra and Brian differentiate each one — especially when they’re singing in unison! They’re remarkably in tune with each other, both pitch-wise and in the characterization/emotion/style they put into the words. If you can achieve the same thing, it really adds depth to the story of this Broadway duet.
10. “The Next Time It Happens” Duet from Pipe Dream the Musical
So chances are, you’ve never seen Pipe Dream — it’s one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s least-known shows. That’s great news for you, because it means that you can sing “The Next Time It Happens” to get the classic R&H sound and still surprise your audience with something new. The accompaniment, in particular, has that glorious Golden Age sound that’s so appealing. (It’s a bit reminiscent of Cinderella) Then, when you layer the faster vocals on top, it’s just the perfect combination. (Also, how much do we love Laura Osnes and Will Chase?)
We love that the range of this song is really versatile, particularly for the female part. It’s pretty low, so it’s great for sopranos and mezzos. The male part is pretty solidly baritone, but a tenor with a strong low range could also handle it easily. This duet is just overflowing with charm, so it’s an adorable addition to a concert.
We repeat: is there anything more gorgeous than a duet between and male and a female? So beautiful!. What other male-female musical theater duets are you loving lately?