Everyone loves to hate a villain. They plot, they scheme, they lie and sometimes they even kill. They’re wicked through and through, and although we might not root for them, they’re often the most interesting part of any story. We’re counting down the most villainous characters to set foot on the stage. These baddies have us clasping our hands and laughing maniacally in glee!
Scar, The Lion King
He’s one of the original bad boys (bad lions?) of Disney movies, and he made the leap to the stage with his evilness intact. Scar’s lust for power knows no bounds: murder of his brother, attempted murder of his nephew, starvation of an entire kingdom, attempted murder of his nephew AGAIN. We get it, you just can’t wait to be king.
Madame Morrible, Wicked
Anyone who’s seen the smash hit Wicked will know that the Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t the true villain here! Another headmistress (what is it with ruling a school that sends people to the dark side?), Madame Morrible is the one who’s truly wicked. She tricks Elphaba into using her powers for evil, and also has a little something to do with a certain tornado…
Richard III, The Tragedy of King Richard III
This guy literally tells us he’s “determined to prove a villain” right from the outset. But despite this declaration, he spends the rest of the show being so damned charismatic and fascinating that we begin to sympathise with him. Which of course makes him all the more dangerous. He’s not above using his hunchback deformity to elicit sympathy and pity before pouncing and committing an evil deed like, oh I don’t know, MURDER. He’s the scariest of Shakespeare’s villains because you know he’s a bad guy but you still allow yourself to be seduced by his wit and wordplay. His ability to manipulate and control both the characters in the story and the audience is so chillingly seductive so that you don’t even realise you’re under his spell until you’re locked up in the Tower of London awaiting a particularly bloody fate. Smart evil guys are the worst.
The Evil Queen, Snow White
How cold is this woman? ICE COLD! Think about it: she’s literally so obsessed with being the best looking girl in town that she straight up sends a huntsman after her stepdaughter and asks him to cut out her heart. CUT. OUT. HER. HEART. Then when her mirror, mirror on the wall tells her Snow White is still the fairest of them all, she decides to have another crack and poison her with an apple. Can’t you just be happy being second prettiest in all the land? Damn, girl!
Hedda Gabler, Hedda Gabler
OK so she’s kind of half villain, half feminist anti-hero but we still think she deserves her place on this list. Hedda a destructive and chaotic woman, who leaves a path of manipulated, destroyed people in her wake. She’s beyond resentful of her financial status and will stop at nothing to further her own selfish needs. Someone else looks like they’re about to have success with a manuscript? She’ll have none of it, and burns the work out of jealousy. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she then convinces the book’s author he should give up hope of success and kill himself. SERIOUSLY. A very messy, deeply complex woman who commands the stage and makes us love and loathe her.
Miss Trunchbull, Matilda the Musical
Roald Dahl’s beloved tale about a little girl with extraordinary talents might be a children’s book, but Miss Trunchbull’s antics are decidedly not child-friendly. The story recently jumped from page to stage and brought all the nastiness of its head villain with it. This woman literally tortures children, both physically (remember the Chokey? And how she swings a kid around by her HAIR?) and mentally. Let’s not forget she also murdered her brother-in-law and stole his house. Any headmistress who racked up the Trunchbull’s list of evil deeds would be locked up for all eternity. There’s also a case for the Wormwood family to be villains too, but that’s for another list.
Javert, Les Miserables
Oh poor Javert. He’s the villain of Les Miserables but the tragedy here is that he’s not actually evil. He’s a poor police inspector just trying to do his job and stand up for what he believes to be right. Pity the audience is rooting for the criminal he’s chasing. The fact that a criminal could actually be a good person does not compute for poor ol’ Javert.
Patrick Bateman, American Psycho
Yep, the film starting Christian Bale as a chainsaw-wielding businessman maniac has been turned into a musical. This psycho enjoys the finer things in life: fashion, fine food, smart business cards, murder. Patrick is just such a smiley nice guy that it’s easy to fall for his act before he comes at you with a bloody chainsaw. Now imagine all that gruesome action, PLUS singing. Chilling.
Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sure, Sweeney Todd is the demon barber but Mrs Lovett is the real evil woman behind the man here. While Sweeney kills people, this twisted mistress bakes the victims into PIES and feeds them to the hungry punters of London. Not only that, but she is a willing accomplice to said murders, and essentially profits off them. Not to mention that her love for our lead character makes her lie and manipulate him, ultimately leading to an ending about as far from happily ever after as you can find.
Stanley Kowalski, A Streetcar Named Desire
Real villains have the ability to connect with the audience so they’re loved because they’re hateful, and Stanley is definitely that. He’s known as one of the most aggressive, dominant characters in theatre history, thanks to his string of physical, verbal, sexual and emotional abuse. How’s that for a role call of evil deeds! But he remains chilling in his ability to immediately switch on his charisma and convince his wife Stella to overlook his brutish behaviour. There are even times when the audience falls for his charms, which makes him very dangerous indeed.
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