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Top 10 Villains on Broadway Right Now

Category Starring on Broadway

|by Amy Sapp |


Celebrate Halloween with Broadway’s villains. Bwa, ha, ha!

Behold the Phantom in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Behold the Phantom in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

As Halloween approaches, Broadway’s villains take center stage. From classic Walt Disney antagonists to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mysterious criminals, behold the villains stalking Broadway. Be warned – this list is not for the faint of heart.

Jafar, Aladdin
Characterized by his looming stature and gazing serpent staff, the royal vizier, Jafar, has terrorized audiences of the New Amsterdam Theatre since 2014. First introduced in Walt Disney’s animated film, Aladdin, in the 1990s, this stealthy man has made his name by terrorizing the show’s title character – and plotting against the dreaming princess Jasmine. Played by the same haunting actor, Jonathan Freeman, in both the classic animation and the Broadway adaption, Jafar has earned his place as one of the stage’s fiercest of antagonists.

Gleb, Anastasia
Though the animated version of Anastasia boasts a terrifying villain based on the real-life Rasputin, the Broadway adaptation chose to reframe its villain as a commanding member of the Communist Party in Russia. Named Gleb, the role is performed by Ramin Karimloo, a stage veteran of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Karimloo’s simple portrayal is of a conflicted man plagued by his commitment to both morality and country.

Macavity, Cats
True, this antagonist does not enter the show until well into the story’s plot. Still, the dark force that is Macavity plagues Cats with an ominous shadow that sends shivers down the viewer’s spine. The villainous cat is characterized by his torn coats, glaring red eyes and hypnotizing stare. Once this character does finally leap onto the stage, beware “for he’s the master criminal who can defy the law.”

Earl, Waitress
In Waitress, malice takes the form of the abusive husband, Earl, of the musical’s leading waitress, Jenna. In a notorious song titled, “You Will Still Be Mine,” Earl reveals how he horribly manipulates his wife. But, there is hope – and it’s the show’s sweet ending that has made it an enduring Broadway favorite.

Phantom, The Phantom of the Opera
“The Phantom of the Opera is there inside your mind.” Though his name is found in the title of this beloved Broadway musical, the Phantom of the Paris Opera House is known for his murderous behaviors and obsessive fascination with one operatic soprano. His haunting mind and menacing obsession drives him to the point of insanity and he kidnaps the subject of his deepest and darkest desires – his muse, Christine Daae.

Big Brother, 1984
According to the omniscient force, Big Brother, “War is peace.  Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” Though the audience of 1984 must decipher for themselves whether or not Big Brother is a single person or a mass of forces, one thing remains the same: Big Brother is deadly for all who dare cross its path. Set in a dystopian period of ultimate government control, Big Brother remains one of the most formidable antagonists on Broadway in the 21st Century.

Scar, The Lion King
“Be prepared” for a ferocious feline from Walt Disney’s The Lion King – Scar. Prowling the Pride Lands – and Broadway – for over a decade, this lion has mastered the menacing air of a traitor, like a Shakespearean antagonist with his clever schemes and unexpected aptitude. This villain’s onstage persona is even more intense than the film, thanks to expert costuming and foreboding makeup.

Golden Ticket Winners, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
In this stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic tale, the “villains” take the shape of four Golden Ticket winners. Each nasty child, including Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee, embodies his or her own brand of wicked. From selfish tendencies to obsessive greed and vain conceit, these kids have it all.

The Set, The Play That Goes Wrong
One character in this murder mystery is revealed as the villain: the set. From prologue to conclusion, the performance is plagued by the set. The pieces that construct the scenery constantly battle against the actors, as mantelpieces collapse entirely, chairs tumble toward oblivion and intact floors crack into pitfalls. In fact, this set’s nightly fight won it a Tony Award – for scenic design.

Aaron Burr, Hamilton
For Alexander Hamilton, one man is the antagonist in his story – Aaron Burr. Though, true, this real-life man can’t be characterized as a complete villain, he did effectively win the duel in the 1700s that ended Hamilton’s short, yet intense, life. In this Broadway adaptation of the historic account, Burr reveals what guided him and the circumstances, both politically and socially, that ultimately led to Hamilton’s demise.

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