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 duet for a concert, you should be all set, right?
Well…sometimes. When you’re singing duets as standalone pieces, 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 male female 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.
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Top image courtesy of Drama League under CC BY 2.0 (cropped, edited background)
1. Contemporary Musical Theatre Duet for a Man and a Woman: “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 runs feel so satisfying. 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 one of those male female duets from Damn Yankees that isn’t usually done in a new world concert setting. We’re not sure why — it’s fun and frothy, with some seriously gorgeous harmonies. 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. As a 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!
3. For a Touch of Cole Porter Sweetness: “Delovely”
And now, for a something totally different! It doesn’t get any sweeter than “Delovely”, one of the bubbly Broadway duets (and love songs) 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 is one of those Broadway duets that’s 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. Touching Musical Theatre 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, the ghost of a young wife and mother is finally able to speak to her (living) husband. It’s a heartbreaking and beautiful moment, and this gorgeous duet is overflowing with emotion.
This is one of those Broadway duets that’s designed specifically to showcase a legit soprano. (The tenor part has some nice notes, but it’s the woman that really shines.) Get your high voice in shape; the soprano line requires some vocal gymnastics that will be brutal if you’re not ready and warm. At the end, the male and female voices come together in glorious harmonies.
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. With its simple piano accompaniment and lovely melody, this song is an all-around joy. (We also love it with two tenors.)
“I See the Light” is one of those Broadway-ish duets that’s 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 is Disney, after all). It’s a delight to sing — the musical line feels natural), and it’s just so pleasing to the ear! When the lines come together, the result is absurdly beautiful.
6. To Show off Your Passion and Intensity: “So in Love”
This one is a classic musical theatre duet. Beautiful and haunting, it works well for a male and a female singer of any age. In most cases, it’s sung by a mezzo and a bass/baritone, but a tenor with a hefty bottom range might be able to make it work. The female line is certainly low enough to be appropriate for a mezzo. The two vocal lines often sing in unison, but it makes those little moments of harmony that much more moving.
“So in Love” is one of the Broadway duets that’s best for a man and a woman with some serious chemistry. In the musical (Kiss Me, Kate), the characters’ relationship is a fraught, creating an potent blend of passion, adoration, hurt and anger. 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 Singers with Excellent Comedic Instincts: “The Song That Goes Like This”
This duet is from the musical Spamalot, and it is an absolute gem. 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. The male and female singers are absolutely ridiculous and melodramatic — and the humor is laugh-out-loud funny.
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. (With a song this intimate, it’s impossible to fake a connection.) The music is 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. Duet for a Strong Soprano and Baritone/Bass: “Sarah Brown Eyes”
First of all: let’s talk about Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell, two of the most spectacular 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. Listen to 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 something similar, 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 the least-produced Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. That’s great news for you, because it means that you can sing “The Next Time It Happens” to surprise your audience. The accompaniment, in particular, has that glorious Golden Age sound. (It’s reminiscent of Cinderella) When you layer the faster vocals on top, it’s just the perfect combination.
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.
11. A Love Song for a Man and a Woman: “More and More”
You know those songs that are a little bit cheesy but so much fun to sing? This one, a duet from the musical Death Takes a Holiday, fits the bill. Melodrama and self-indulgence aside (seriously, listen to that jump just after 2:30), it’s so satisfying.
Just for a bit of context — at this point in the show, the leading lady has fallen in love with Death, who is on Earth in human form. However, if they want to be together, she has to die to be with him. This duet is great for a legit soprano and a tenor (or a baritone with a strong high register). It’s big and dramatic, so it’s a great way to end the first half of a concert and leave the audience wanting more.
12. For Two Singers with Sparky Chemistry: “Everything I’ve Got”
By Jupiter is one of those weird and wonderful old musicals that one one ever performs, even though it’s got some big names attached — the music and lyrics are by Rodgers and Hart! We can practically guarantee that the majority of your audience won’t have heard it before…but once the melody gets going, they’ll feel an instant sense of familiarity. Maybe it’s that vintage Pajama Game-y charm.
This duet loaded with personality. It’s clearly adversarial, which makes the “everything I’ve got belongs to you” even funnier. Plus, with lines like, “It’s wrong essentially when woman yells”, there’s plenty of opportunity to break out your acting skills. (Listen to the lyrics; they are a gold mine.)
13. A Duet for a Legit Soprano and Baritone: “It’s the Going Home Together”
Are you a legit soprano? Want to show off a classic vibrato? This duet is for you. It’s from The Golden Apple (another rando old musical), and the musical line is just gorgeous. Those high, floating melodies and huge notes are the perfect vehicle for legit singers — no room for screlting here, thankyouverymuch! It’s a musical theater duet, but you could certainly pull a 16-bar cut for an audition for Gilbert and Sullivan, Phantom, or an operetta.
This one is an opportunity to showcase individual voices and killer harmonies. It starts off with alternating solo lines, which come together around 1:57 in one of those soaring duet lines that make your listeners breathe in deeply — and then hold that breath so they don’t miss a single note. It’s reminiscent of “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide, but with just two people instead of a full company. Love. These old recordings can make it difficult to see the potential — for a quick clip of a more recent performance, see this video.
14. Unique Golden Age Broadway Duet: “Careless Rhapsody” from By Jupiter
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?