Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Show Tunes: The Duets

Well I leave for New York a week from tomorrow, so here is the final edition of Show Tunes! Okay, so, Broadway shows are full of big show-stopper numbers, but they are usually solos or ensemble pieces. Every once in a while though, as if a Broadway ballad wasn't already powerful enough with just one clear incredible voice, the story calls for the harmony of a duet. When I started compiling a list of these I had like forty on it and, sigh, with much difficulty, I cut it back to my Top 15. These aren't all classic romantic duets, and all of them aren't necessarily the most well-known Broadway duets of all time, but for various reasons they are my personal favorites. It's a countdown, though only roughly in order of my least to most favorite, because that would be impossible to decide as it changes frequently ;)

15- Aaah, classic. The smitten and confused young man and the older woman with the hindsight to explain it to him:

You're Just in Love (Call Me Madam- Donald O'Connor & Ethel Merman)

14- If I didn't know the context of this story and the song placement in the show I might find some of these lyrics childish, but as a fanciful farewell to a dying sister, its touching and wonderful:

Some Things Are Meant To Be (Little Women- Sutton Foster & Meg McGinnis)

13- I grew up watching a lot of old movies but I distinctly remember watching this one more than others (though always fast forwarding through the long dream sequence scene- nice on stage, boring on screen) This is fun and flirtatious and the lyrics and the scene are light and charming:

People Will Say We're In Love (Oklahoma- Gordon MacRae & Shirly Jones)

12- I don't think an explanation is necessary. I can't imagine a childhood without running around singing this song running across benches:

Sixteen Going on Seventeen (The Sound of Music- Charmian Carr & Daniel Truhitte)

11- I'm a woman. Of course I enjoy a man singing about his passionate love. This one is two men singing about their passion for the same woman. Also, said woman has passed away so the song is even more infused with frustrated regret and the elevated ardor of haunting memories, all inspired by something as simple as seeing a pair of eyes like hers. 'Nuff said:

Lily's Eyes (The Secret Garden- Mandy Patinkin & Robert Westenberg)

10- This is the lesser-known musical version of the story of the Phantom of the Opera. This one came out around the same time as the Andrew Lloyd Webber version but was sort of ignored I guess because Webber was so huge at the time, coming off of Cats and Evita and such. If I absolutely had to pick a favorite it would be Webber's- I grew up with it and it has such a bittersweet mysteriousness about it, but this Maury Yeston version has some fabulous songs. Like this one:

Home (Phantom- Robert Cuccioli & Laura Benanti)

9- This song is two men inspiring and comforting a woman that it will be alright as they plan to assist her to flee the kingdom- in a TV version they did a few years ago they turned this into a love duet (which you can watch in my Zooey D. post) which I actually prefer since its such a pretty song, but I couldn't track down a recording of that version. I think I like this song so much because I love to travel and I love the dream of adventure and escape and that is what 'Normandy' represents in this song:

Normandy (Once Upon a Mattress- Harry Snow & Matt Maddox)

8- Such a great contemporary show. I love the originality of the bilingual lyrics and the sweetness of the characters dialogue:

Sunrise (In the Heights- Christopher Jackson & Mandy Gonzalez)

7- Anything with these two singing together would be on my list by default, but even without them this is such a hopeful and inspiring tune:

The Wheels of a Dream (Ragtime- Brian Stokes Mitchell & Audra McDonald)

6- This isn't the only musical duet between two women about the same man (I Still Believe from Miss Saigon, In His Eyes from Jekyll & Hyde...) but what I like about this one is that it isn't, 'I'm nothing without you,' or, 'choose me not her.' It's simply reflective that things didn't go perfectly but not necessarily in a regretful way, just in a retrospective way:

I Know Him So Well (Chess- Idina Menzel & Kerry Ellis)

5- Jennifer is awesome- she replaced Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda in Wicked so she is who I saw with Idina Menzel. More trivia- Hunter is brother to Sutton Foster. If you aren't aware of the synopsis of this show, well, it's kind of a dark satire. This song is a fabulous combination of goofy and tender:

Follow Your Heart (Urinetown- Hunter Foster & Jennifer Laura Thompson)

4- This show jumps around to different emotional moments in a five year relationship. I love the sincere, conversational tone of this song, set in the joy of the beginnings of love:

The Next Ten Minutes (The Last Five Years- Leo Norbert Butz & Sherie Rene Scott)

3- This is a twisted love song that start out very humble and ardent and then the lyrics get quite dramatic. This whole play is from the point of view of people who have attempted (and sometimes succeeded) to assassinate US Presidents throughout history. In this songs case, these two were both obsessively 'in love' with someone leading them to their drastic deed. Leave it to Stephen Sondheim to make sinister passion into something beautiful. (Sweeney Todd anyone?):

Unworthy of Your Love (Assassins- Alexander Gemignani & Mary Catherine Garrison)

2- If you haven't seen it, this show really is as great as everyone says. The enigmatic 'everyone' has it right. Also, with the many themes that this story includes- love, confidence, faith, independence, peer pressure, prejudice... when you break it down it is really a story about friendship, and this song wraps it up perfectly:

For Good (Wicked- Idina Menzel & Kristin Chenoweth)

1- This will forever be, to me, the most sweepingly romantic song ever written:

All I Ask of You (The Phantom of the Opera- Steve Barton & Sarah Brightman)


Jasmyn said...

Ooh - nice posts, Hayls! We always fast-forwarded the dream part of Oklahoma too...what was the point of that again? How fun - have a great time in New York!

SisterPresidentMann said...

Have you actually seen every one of these shows? What a nice set of songs- I'll have to make some new cds!

Elisabeth (and Tyler) said...

I can't WAIT to read this again at home.. When I can actually listen to the selections :) I can't WAIT to see you!!!!!!

Bre said...

gahhh! LOVE it. all SO SO good! You're going to have so much fun in nyc!!