Two is almost always better than one! While most show stopping numbers that come to mind are the work of a single powerhouse performer, our favorite songs feature two singers working together. Duets feature rich harmonies and contrast that only two skilled singers can provide. Here are a few of our favorite duets in all of musical theater.
If there’s one thing that princes from fairytales don’t need to hear more of it is how handsome or perfect they are. This classic from Into the Woods showcases that princely vanity in this great duet between Rapunzel’s Prince and Cinderella’s Prince. After all, wouldn’t you be in agony if you were, “sensitive, clever, well mannered, considerate, passionate, charming,” and the princess still didn’t want to be with you for some reason?
The princes’ agony over why they can’t get the one thing they want tortures them. This has made this song one of the most popular amongst fans of Into the Woods. The point raised by this song is reinforced when the two princes get bored of the marriages that they wanted more than anything else and sing the same song about two new fairy tale princesses.
2. “What You Own”-
No one said doing something like creating a great film or being a songwriter was easy, and that is exactly what Mark and Roger are fighting against in this song from Rent. These two characters learn during this musical that lesson the hard way. Their struggle eventually leads Mark to take a corporate job and Roger to break up with Mimi effectively putting their dreams on hold.
“What You Own” explains all their frustration with their lives, and then shows them not letting it sink their hopes. Plus, it delivers a great rock tune that fits perfectly with the rest of the musical. For all those who are struggling to work on a film, song, or any dream that’s more important than simply having enough money to pay rent, this song will remind you that you’re more than what you own.
3. “The Confrontation”-
Les Miserables is one of the most epic musicals around, and this duet bottles up all the energy and passion from this incredible musical and delivers it in one short but powerful song. “The Confrontation” becomes something far more engaging than your usual conflict due to the long history between Javert and Valjean and their competing wills.
This duet is not only powerful because of the dueling lyrics and growing tension which escalates with the score, but it’s also the moment that Javert and Valjean reveal the heart of their characters. Valjean has taken on a moral and successful life far from his criminal past, even proving himself honest by not letting another man go to prison for him. This doesn’t convince Javert though, who believes that a man is what he is no matter how much he changes on the outside. This incredible duet will grab your attention as you witness a monumental clash of wills taking place on stage.
4. “Where Did We Go Right?”
The name of this duet alone should tell you why it’s memorable. Still, if you know The Producers, then you know that this comical duet perfectly sums up this wacky musical. Max and Leo aptly sum up their arc, “It was so crass and crude even Goebbels would’ve booed. Where did we go right?”
Of course putting on a musical with “spastic” dancers and singers with coughs is a risky move. Making that musical a love letter to Hitler with those performers is even riskier. That’s why the surprise and dismay that Max and Leo express that their creation was a success is hilarious. If there’s one lesson to be learned from this male duet, it’s not to underestimate the power of satire.
5. “Lilly’s Eyes”-
In direct contrast to the two princes from Into the Woods, brothers Archibald and Neville reflect on their true love for the deceased Lilly that reignited due to Mary’s physical resemblance to Lilly in this Secret Garden duet.
For their own reasons, both Neville and Archibald have grieved over Lilly’s death for years, and their grief is expressed beautifully in every word of this number. Whether it’s the fact that Archibald is living in loneliness or that Neville’s unrequited love, both men share a great love for Lilly, and this song expresses it perfectly.