And wasting my time with unskilled, pointless rumination. Like, for example, comparing three different peformances of "The Wizard and I" from the musical Wicked (because, as I've discovered, there are a TON of clips from this musical to choose from):
Idina Menzel. Originated the role on Broadway and won a Tony Award. Her voice is youthful and astringent...though it seems a bit untutored. (I mean, what is with that wheezing?!) Her acting is just okay, but her un-"witchy" features are probably working against her to some degree. No stereotypically long face and pointy chin here! I'm inclined to think she became so critically- and popularly-acclaimed less on her own intrinsic merits and more simply because the character of Elphaba herself is so interesting.
Stephanie J. Block. The woman who would have been the first Elphaba--she was the first-choice pick. Mostly, I'm guessing, for her voice, which is truly GORGEOUS. Full, rich, and finely-controlled, she's got the sort of singing voice that makes it all look sound so easy to do. But it's strikes me as almost too mature for the untried, unfinished schoolgirl that Elphaba is in the beginning of the story. Her acting seems about on par with Menzel (although it's a bit harder to tell since her face is bleached out by the lighting). It's really too bad she didn't originate the role. I would've preferred her voice on the original cast album...and, just think!, if she had, she would've gotten the Tony instead. Sucks to be her.
Julia Murney. Currently on Broadway. Her two biggest assets are her witchy look (VERY pointy chin) and awesome acting. (Not necessarily in that order.) Of the three clips, her performance is the only one that made me smile. Whereas Menzel's Elphaba looks like a whipped--if sometimes volatile--puppy half the time in the beginning, Murney goes the 10-inch-thick armor and sardonic self-awareness route. Plus, she's got a well-trained and powerful voice...and if it's not as intrinsically beautiful as Block's, at least she sounds convincingly youthful. I like what she's done with the role, and I wonder how long she'll be doing it. (Not that I can afford to go; the tickets are f*ckin' expensive...but I can wish, right? :P )