Monday, March 7, 2011

Broadway: Just Du-Et

I've just finished watching the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables on PBS and it's put me back in a Broadway mood (again).  Last year ended with me on a Stephen Sondheim kick, again mostly due to the fact that I had just watched his birthday celebration on PBS, and I was hooked on listening to at least four of his musicals (Into the Woods, A Little Night Music, Company, and Sweeney Todd) on a daily basis.  Now for some people that may be a lot to process, for others you might be thinking, why wouldn't you listen to (insert Sondheim musical here) or (insert other Sondheim musical here)?!  The thing is that if we're going with the Breakfast Club's theory of the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions, then, in this world, there are musical theater people and there are non-musical theater people.  I've always been the former.  It could be because I was in dance shoes before I was 4, it could be that my very first memory of my birthday happened when I was 5 and seeing Cats, it could be genetic.  Who really knows?  Once I'm on a kick, there's really no stopping me.  So, as I began scouring Youtube for  performances of Les Miserables songs, it, of course, led me to other songs that I love, and I thought, since I'm here, I might as well make a list of the Broadway duets that I deem to be the best/most entertaining/most important.  I'm also limiting this to shows that I've seen or listened to at least once.  If there is some obscure one out there and you want to suggest it, comment, please!  I'll check it out I promise
It should also be noted that I'm beginning this at 11:45 pm, I'm bound to not mention someone's favorite (please forgive me) and may end up sounding slightly delusional towards the end.  I'm going to attempt to go in chronological order to keep this as fair as possible, so if you have any complaints, suggestions or heinously overlooked duets, please feel free to leave a comment.  This is mostly a list for people who are supremely bored at their work, or during their day, so ultimately, I just hope you find this a bit entertaining.  If you find something you like, or go to Wikipedia to find out a little more about one of the musicals, then my mission is accomplished.  Let's get started:

1930s:
The Musical:  Anything Goes
The Song: It's De-Lovely
The reason for the song: Because love is clearly De-Lovely, and a whole lot of other alliterative descriptions.
The reason it's on the list: Because it's Cole Porter and one of the first great musicals
The Link

1940s:

The Musical: Oklahoma
The Song: People Will Say We're In Love
The Reason for the Song: Again, everyone knows in musicals, the only way to show someone you love them is to sing.  Curly was the best of both worlds, a manly cowboy who sang to his lady
The Reason it's on the list: Because I lived on Rodgers & Hammerstein and when I was little I watched this musical quite often, and had kind of a weird crush on Gordon McRae.  I know, I know, that's not stuff to write on the Internet, but I won't deny it.
The Link

The Musical: Annie Get Your Gun
The Song: They Say It's Wonderful
The Reason for the Song: Because how do you know if falling in love is wonderful, unless you're told so?
The Reason it's On the List: Seeing this musical in person was one of the best surprises I can remember having in the theater.  I wasn't expecting to like it all that much and I really loved it.
The Link

The Musical: Carousel
The Song: If I loved You
The Reason for the Song: See above reason, except instead of Curly being a cowboy, replace Curly with Billy and "cowboy" with "barker"
The Reason It's On The List: Because Carousel is, more often than not, one of the forgotten musicals, and the only reason someone might look it up is if they run across "You'll Never Walk Alone".  To me, it's the darkest of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, but it's also, ultimately the one that I find the most moving.
The Link


1950s:
The Musical: The King and I
The Song: I Have Dreamed
The Reason for the Song: Again, love declarations are always best made when accompanied by an orchestra.  Two people who aren't supposed to be together are getting ready to make a run for it.
The Reason It's On the List: Mainly because, even though this isn't one of my favorites, South Pacific didn't have any duets that weren't a reprise, so I went with the next R & H work
The Link

The Musical: The Sound of Music
The Song: Sixteen Going on Seventeen
The Reason for the Song: Rolf's trying to give Liesl life lessons.  Too bad he turns out to be a Nazi, snuffing out young love and forcing her to run into the mountains with her family.
The Reason it's On the List: Because if there was one musical that defined my childhood, it was this one and if there was one thing I wanted to do more than anything else in life it would have been getting to play Liesl and running around those benches.  Although I still think it's ridiculous when, in the movie she spins around and yells "wheeee!" Chill out Liesl, Rolf's SO not who you think he is.
The Link (song)
The Link (video)-so you can see Liesl run around the covered gazebo like I was explaining, it might make more sense

The Musical:  West Side Story
The Song: Tonight
The reason for the Song: Tony and Maria are falling in love and have to hide it from their racist friends and family.  Singing is clearly the only way around prejudice (duh!)
The Reason It's on the List:  It's one of my all time favorites.  I think everything about it is beautiful.
The Link: CLICK

The Musical: Guys & Dolls
The Song: Guys & Dolls
The Reason For the Song: Because single guys have to find legitimate reasons to be annoyed with their attached friends.
The Reason It's On the List: Again, this is one that I've only seen in movie form, but goodness gracious, if Marlon Brando isn't one of the most beautiful men ever put on screen in this movie.  He's not on this song, but he's a reason to watch.
The Link:  This is kind of a cheat, because in the clip it's as a trio, but in the musical, it was only a duet between Benny and Nicely, so it still counts.  My blog, my rules.

1970s:
The Musical: Company
The Song: Barcelona
The Reason for the Song: Bobby, the consummate bachelor thinks he's ready to settle down.  He asks April to stay after a one-night stand, to his surprise, she agrees
The Reason It's on the List: Even though it's not my favorite from this musical, Company needs to be on the list.
The Link
The other link (Marry me a Little)

The Musical: A Little Night Music
The Song: Everyday a Little Death
The Reason for the Song: Because sometimes marriage is boring and monotonous and sometimes love turns from wonderful to "what just happened?" over the years
The Reason It's On the List: It's nice to hear a song about marriage being boring and monotonous
The Link


The Musical: Godspell
The Song: All For The Best
The Reason for the Song:  Like all of the other songs in this musical, it's a rhythmic parable
The Reason It's On the List: Because there was no way that I was making a list of musicals and not including Godspell, since most of the best memories I have from being 13 revolve around me being cast and performing in my middle school production of this.  Also, attempting to learn this song is one of the most amusing things I've ever witnessed.
The Link

1980s:

The Musical: The Phantom of the Opera
The Song: All I Ask Of You
The Reason for the Song: Because what better way is there to escape the creepy stalker who teaches you how to sing than falling for your once childhood friend who turned out to be handsome, rich and sensitive to boot?
The Reason It's on the List:  I could have gone with the obvious "Phantom of the Opera" which is all power and resonating organ, but I like this one better.
The Link

The Musical: Miss Saigon
The Song: Last Night of the World
The Reason for the Song: Chris is trying to get Kim out of Vietnam, the problem:he's a soldier, she's a lady of the night, but with a heart of gold (of course!)  During the fall of Saigon, this is, to say the least, inconvenient.
The Reason It's on the List:  Because if I could sound like anyone, I might very well wish to have Lea Solanga's voice.
The Link

The Musical: Les Miserables
The Song: A Little Fall of Rain
The Reason for the Song: Poor Eponine, I always felt sorrier for her than I did for Cosette.  Eponine's about to die in the arms of the man she loves, and he realizes, a little late, why she's been hanging around him so much.  The lesson, boys are stupid and you shouldn't take a bullet for them, unless there's a ring on your finger
The Reason It's on the List: Because of all of the moments that move me to tears in this musical, this one takes the cake, but it does it quietly and with grace and dignity.
The Link

The Musical: Cats
The Song: Gus (The Theater Cat)
The Reason for the Song:  It's a musical based on poems with people dressed as cats who sing and dance; there's rarely a real reason for the songs in this show.  Essentially, Asparagus (Gus) is recounting his fondest memories from one of his previous 8 lives.
The Reason it's on the List: Pure nostalgia.
The Link

1990s

The Musical: Jekyll & Hyde
The Song: In His Eyes
The Reason for the Song: Two women love the same man, it sounds like an old story, but when that man turns out to be two different men, it gets a little more interesting.
The Reason It's On the List:When you have each perspective sung by Linda Eder and Christiane Noll, you end up with a song to which I sang both parts in my room at the top of my lung for roughly 6 month stints. This wins my award for "Musical that was much better than it had any right to Be"
The Link

The Musical: Aida
The Song: Written in the Stars
The Reason for the Song: Based on the opera of the same name, Aida and Radames are forced to lament (is there really anything else to do in a musical?!) their situations in life.  You know the story, Boy enslaves Girl, Girl gives Enslaver what for, Boy realizes he likes being told his place and falls in love with Girl, but the catch is she's still a slave and now Boy pretty much has to give her up or die.
The Reason It's on the List:  Because its Heather Headley and Adam Pascal
The Link

The Musical: Rent
The Song: Another Day
The Reason for the Song:  Mimi really wants to go out.  Roger really needs to get out.  He's the recluse, she's the sex kitten, they'd make the perfect pair, if only she could get him to realize that "now" is the only thing that matters in life.  Get with it Roger.
The Reason It's On the List: You knew it would be, right?  I mean I could have gone with I'll Cover You, or Without You, or Take Me or Leave Me, but this song is what solidified Rent for me.  No day but today...sure, it's on a million affirmation calendars, but it sounds so much better in song version.
The Link

2000s:
The Musical: Wicked
The Song: As Long As You're Mine
The Reason for the Song: Elpheba and Fiyero finally realize they're perfect for each other.
The Reason It's on the List: I just really love to belt this one out.
The Link

The Musical: Tarzan
The Song: For the First Time
The Reason for the Song:  Every Disney musical needs the love song to hang its hat on.
The Reason It's on the List: I'm a sucker for Disney musicals and probably always will be.
The Link


Honorable Mentions:
The Wedding Singer-If I told You
Chess-I know Him So Well



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