Vicious, Delicious Villains: Theater Shows That Spotlight Who We Love to Hate

Love them, hate them, it doesn’t matter- you have to admit that a well-crafted villain can be one of the most compelling things to hit the live theater stage. Today we take a look at some iconic productions that bring the villains we loathe to life, and give them their moment in the spotlight.

Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch

Let’s be honest. While Ariel’s air-headed antics may have been the most compelling part of The Little Mermaid when we were children ourselves, as we get older, we start to understand Ursula’s side a little more. We’ve all had days where we want to rage at the machine and cause some mayhem. Now Ursula gets her moment in the sun, and we get a compelling look at one of Disney’s most fascinating villainesses, and why she chose to do what she did. This one isn’t for kids, so make sure to keep it for the nostalgic Millennials in your social circle hankering for a very different Disney fix.

Heathcliff The Musical

The Ultimate Bad Boy of romantic classical novels, Heathcliff was always a compelling villain. First staged in 1996, this pop-hit packed musical sought to tell the story from the other side, and humanize this often Misunderstood Man. With a score complied by the original Heathcliff, Cliff Richard, it never quite got the traction it deserved due to his good-boy musician image, but it’s packed with singable hits and makes for a fantastic watch if you can dig it up. We’d like to see this one come back to the stage, honestly.


That’s a tough name to live up to, and anyone trying to play the titular Hades needs to bring a lot of acting chops to the stage. While this is more of an ensemble production than a showcase for just the villain, Hades is a ruler with an iron fist and a cold personality the production still manages to humanize beautifully, and it’s well worth the watch.

The Phantom of the Opera

Possibly the best known villain in musical theater, who doesn’t love the Phantom? Let’s be honest- Raoul and Christine may be there to play the good guys who win, but does anyone really care about them? The on-stage Phantom has been brought to life by a variety of skilled and talented actors, and almost every incarnation of one of the longest-lived musicals in product has been fantastic. It’s a musical milestone every fan needs to celebrate, and you’re sure to come back to this one over and over again.


Another musical with a delightful spotlight on the villains- or should we say villainesses- it often surprises people to learn that each of our deadly female criminals was based on a real-life temptress who got caught. We’re sure those popping sound effects linger in your mind, too!

Jekyll and Hyde

Evil, self-indulgent, and uncaring outside of his own interests, Mr Hyde may have to share the limelight with goodie-two-shoes Dr Jekyll, but he’s a stand-out character and one we love to hate. 

What other theater productions that spotlight the villains in the cast do you love? What makes your can’t-miss list? We’d love to hear from you, so drop your favorites below.

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