33 Contemporary Male/Female Duets for Competition: Part 1

Written by Tiffany Weagly-Wilkie

July 18, 2016

There are so many good female/male duets out there. (It’s probably because the male/female relationship is the most common one in musicals.) It was challenge to narrow the songs down, but I decided to go with numbers I think will do well at competition. The formula is the same as past articles: a strong relationship, full story arc, and performance length. As a bonus, I teamed up with Chris Leavy on this article, so we’ve got 33 numbers for you, split between Part 1 and Part 2. We hope you enjoy!

1. “It Could Totally Happen” from Like You Like It

Characters: Orlando and Rosalind, two high school students in the 1980s.
Relationship: Both are secretly romantically interested in the other.
Story: It’s love at first sight for Orlando and Rosalind.  When they finally meet, they express their true feelings in a pair of inner monologues that belie their haltering small talk.

2. “Girl, You’re Freakin Out” (a standalone duet)

Characters: A boy and a girl. Smitten.
Relationship: Potential boyfriend and girlfriend.
Story: The boy and girl, still smarting from previous relationships gone wrong, have just kissed for the first time.  The sudden realization that they are in love surprises them at first, but they decide to go for it.  Another song performed as a pair of inner monologues rather than a dialogue, but can be performed like the video.

3. “First Date/Last Night” from Dogfight

Characters: Eddie Birdlace, a US Marine just returned from Vietnam, and Rose, a shy waitress.
Relationship: Eddie and Rose have had a disastrous first date, but decide to try again.
Story: Eddie has entered a “Dogfight”, wherein he and two others each ante $50 into a pot and find dates to bring to a party.  The Marine with the ugliest date wins.  Eddie has invited Rose, but is conflicted by his decision.  When he tries to change their plan, Rose thinks he’s embarrassed by her, so he brings her anyway.  She discovers the true nature of the party and leaves, devastated.  Eddie apologies as best he can, and Rose believes he is sincere, so they go on another date, with the stipulation that they never again discuss the Dogfight.

4. “This World Will Remember Us” from Bonnie and Clyde

Characters: Clyde Barrow, a serial outlaw, and Bonnie Parker, a young waitress.
Relationship: Bonnie has fallen in love with Clyde.
Story: While serving a particularly onerous prison sentence, the compounding abuse and sexual assault leads Clyde to murder.  He convinces Bonnie to smuggle a gun into his cell and help him escape.  A deputy is killed during the break out, thus solidifying the relationship between the two as they set off toward their inexorable life of crime and ultimate doom.

5. “Here on This Night” from The Pirate Queen

Characters: Grace O’Malley, daughter of the chieftain of the O’Malley clan, and Tiernan, a sailor.
Relationship: Childhood sweethearts, now entering adulthood.
Story: Following the christening of new ship The Pirate Queen by Grace’s father, he instructs her to leave because women are not allowed to sail.  Instead, Grace disguises herself as a cabin boy and stows away.  After battling a terrible storm, Grace’s secret is revealed.  Her father is both furious at her disobedience and proud of her heroism and skill.  Tiernan is delighted to learn his sweetheart will remain on board, but both agree their relationship must be kept secret.  They swear their troth to each other in a mock marriage ceremony.

6. “The Next Ten Minutes” from The Last Five Years

Characters: Jamie, a writer on the verge of success, and Cathy, an aspiring actress.
Relationship: Cathy and Jamie have been dating for about two years.
Story: The Last Five Years is unique in that while Jamie’s story progresses forward, Cathy’s progresses backward.  This number occurs where their stories intersect, beginning with Jamie “answering” Cathy’s questions about the New York City landmarks they see while rowing on Central Park Lake,  then with their marriage at the centre of the song, and ending with Cathy asking the questions that Jamie “answered” in the beginning of the song.

7. “Fine” from Ordinary Days

Characters: Claire and Jason, a pair of 30-something New Yorkers.
Relationship: After dating for a while, they decide to share an apartment.
Story: Claire and Jason are in love, but the decision to share an apartment with Jason causes Claire to deal with her past (her first husband died on 9/11, their first anniversary, and she struggles with moving on).  Jason’s romanticism and Claire’s neuroticism clash comically even as their relationship moves forward.

8. “Crazier Than You” from The Addam’s Family

Characters: Wednesday Addams, the original “goth girl”, and Lucas Beineke, a “normal” boy
Relationship: Against all odds, the two have fallen in love.
Story: Wednesday has invited Lucas’ family over to dinner, which turns out to be disastrous.  Chaos erupts and a terrible storm traps everyone in the Addams mansion overnight.  Wednesday worries that she and Lucas are just too different, but Lucas tries to convince her otherwise.

9. “When the Sun Goes Down” from In the Heights

Characters: Nina, a college student, and Benny, a cab dispatcher.
Relationship: Benny works for Nina’s parents, and they have fallen in love.
Story: On a searing hot July 4th weekend, Nina has come home from Stanford to tell her parents she’s lost her scholarship and had to drop out.  After spending a night together, Nina’s father discovers their relationship and vows Benny will never be part of the family because he is not Latino.  Nina resolves to return to Stanford, and the two watch the sun set, uncertain of their future.

10. “More Than I Am” from Little Women

Characters: Meg, a teenage girl, and Mr. Brooke, a tutor.
Relationship: Meg and Mr. Brooke meet at a party and are instantly smitten.
Story: After meeting and falling in love at a party, Mr. Brooke enlists in the army.  Before he goes, he visits Meg and begs her hand in marriage.

11. “I Think I Got You Beat” from Shrek

Characters: Shrek, an ogre, and Fiona, a princess.
Relationship: Shrek has rescued Fiona from a tower, much to Fiona’s chagrin.
Story: Shrek’s attempt to protect Fiona by warning her about Lord Farquaad ends with him mocking her tragic childhood.  The two argue, trying to best each other, but discover they have more in common than not.

12. “Little Mysteries” from The Boy Detective Fails 

Characters: Billy, former boy detective, and Penny, a pickpocket.
Relationship: Friends.
Story: Ten years after the death of his sister and crime-solving partner Caroline, Billy returns from an extended stay at a sanatorium to find the world has changed.  He meets Penny, and the two fall in love as they work together to solve the mystery of his sister’s death.

13. “Our Children” from Ragtime

Characters: Mother, a society wife, and Tateh, filmmaker and single parent.
Relationship: Mother and Tateh meet randomly at the Atlantic City boardwalk.
Story: When their children become fast friends in Atlantic City, Mother and Tateh also become friends.  Tateh confesses his humble immigrant origins, and the two marvel at how their children’s lives are so much simpler and more profound.

14. “You Matter to Me” from Waitress

Characters: Jenna, a waitress, and Dr. Pomatter, her physician.
Relationship: Jenna meets Dr. Pomatter when fills in for her usual doctor, and he cares for her through her pregnancy.
Story: Trapped in an unhappy marriage, Jenna looks to a pie-baking contest as her way out, only to become unexpectedly pregnant.  Over the course of her pre-natal appointments with Dr. Pomatter, their attraction grows.

15. “I’d Give it All For You” from Songs For a New World

Characters: A man and a woman.
Relationship: Former lovers.
Story: The pair reunite after attempting to live apart.

16. “Seventeen” from Heathers

Characters: J.D. and Veronica, high school students.
Relationship: Students at the same high school.
Story: Outsider Veronica has fallen for bad boy J. D., attracted to his “danger”.  After a pair of practical jokes turn deadly, Veronica realises J. D.’s deadly intentions and begs him to stop.

17. “What You Mean to Me” from Finding Neverland

Characters: J. M. Barrie, an author, and Sylvia Davies, a widow with children.
Relationship: Barrie is Davies’ good friend, and a surrogate father figure to her boys.
Story: Barrie and Davies acknowledge the depth of their friendship.

Tiffany Weagly-Wilkie is the Director of Theatricals for PerformerStuff.com. She also serves as the Casting Director for The Imagination House.
Christopher Leavy is a music director, accompanist, vocal coach, actor and musical theatre historian whose professional career spans over 40 years and more than 100 shows.  When not immersed in musical theatre, Chris enjoys travel, cooking, world history and the Eurovision Song Contest.  He lives in Orlando, FL with his husband and their cat.
Thumbnail: Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash