Ahhhh, it's Defying Gravity, probably the most famous song from the show and Elphaba's show-stopping number at the end of Act One. As I'm sure you're aware, it's also my favorite song of all time, so picking my favorite versions of it was definitely tough. :)
Basically my criteria for favorite versions are if they properly "do" my favorite lines in the song -
Something has changed within me, something is not the same.
I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game.
Too late for second guessing, too late to go back to sleep...
I'm through accepting limits cuz someone says they're so.
Some things I cannot change, but till I try, I'll never know.
Too long I've been afraid of losing love I guess I've lost...
Well, if that's love, it comes at much too high a cost!
And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free!
Which narrowed them down to these five. Without further ado...
Idina Menzel - the original Elphaba, Defying Gravity is "her song" and as such, there is definitely a special quality to it. I'm not saying that as a rule, the originating actor/actress is the best, but it tends to work well most of the time (Michael Crawford's Phantom? Colm Wilkinson's Valjean? Lea Salonga's Kim? I could keep going...). Idina and Kristin together were magic, and Idina definitely brings across so well the young girl who was scared, but just wanted to do what was right.
Rachel Tucker - Vocally, Rachel's one of my favorites. Recently London's Elphaba, she has an incredible range and quality to her voice, and she gets all the right parts perfect.
Eden Espinosa - Eden was my "first" Elphaba, and she has here a quality that none of the other Elphabas I've seen have - anger. I love her righteous indignation because it really mirrors my own feelings. Some Elphabas play this scene as frightened or as feeling like their eyes have been opened or something. Eden's Elphie is angry, pure and simple, at the injustice she's seen. And I absolutely love that. As far as acting, Eden's may very well be my favorite Defying Gravity.
Kerry Ellis - Another great vocal performance. Kerry has a fantastic belt that is used to tremendous advantage here. And again, she hits all the right spots perfect.
Lindsey Mendez - if I'm not mistaken, she's the current Elphaba on Broadway, and I love her voice! It's definitely darker than any other Elphie I've heard, but it makes her voice so rich.
So now...who's your favorite(s)?