Counting Down Theatre’s Scariest Antagonists

Written by Savannah Rutherford

October 24, 2017

7. Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

We don’t realize that Mrs. Lovett is working against Sweeney Todd—she seems the perfect partner in crime until he figures out what she had done to his wife while he was imprisoned, and that she lied about Lucy’s fate until Todd accidentally kills his poor wife.

6. Javert, Les Miserables

It’s safe to say that Javert has no human emotion and he places the value of the law above everything else. A man with a deep vendetta is terrifying in itself, but this man gives up a normal, steady career to try to catch Jean Valjean for years, all over France, all because of a loaf of bread from over twenty years ago

5. Claudius, Hamlet

A cold-hearted murderer who stole Hamlet’s rightful seat on the throne just to marry his dead brother’s wife, Claudius is a clear antagonist in this classic play. Hamlet kills people too, but the two men have different goals: Claudius wants complete and total power, and Hamlet just wants to avenge his father’s death.

4. Mephistopheles, Doctor Faustus

While Faust is a horrible man on his own, he is still our protagonist. Mephistopheles is a servant of Lucifer’s and doesn’t necessarily want to make Faust do evil things—but after failing to convince Faust that he must turn back to being good, Mephistopheles serves as a constant reminder of the eternal flames that await Faust at his bitter end.

3. Velma von Tussle, Hairspray

We initially can’t stand the von Tussle women because of the snobby attitudes and the nepotism, and of course, they break Tracy’s heart. But Velma von Tussle is a cold, uneducated, and ignorant racist. While the musical has a cute bubblegum ending where kids of all races gets to dance on the Corny Collins show, what we don’t see is Velma voting at the city council meeting in favor of “separate but equal” movie theatres, classrooms, and swimming pools.

2. Mrs. Meers, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Millie is naïve and runs to follow her dreams in the Big Apple, which leads her right into Mrs. Meers’s hotel. Millie finds herself almost caught in an actual human trafficking ring, where Mrs. Meers is abducts and ships single, orphaned girls off to the Orient.

1. Stanley Kowalski, A Streetcar Named Desire

Domestic violence and spousal abuse are no joke, which makes Stanley a terrifying antagonist, with Marlon Brando’s handsome face to soften the blows. He throws the dishes around the apartment, he gambles and stays out all night, and exhibits textbook abusive behaviors. He even goes after his wife’s sister, Blanche DuBois—physically assaulting her to the point that she gets checked into a mental health facility. Don’t let the famous cry, “Stella!” at the end of the show warm your heart.

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Savannah Rutherford is an actor, classical singer, and stage manager based in Huntsville, AL. She is one semester shy of graduating with a Bachelor’s of Art in Voice and a Bachelor’s of Art in Theatre Performance from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She is on the hunt for graduate schools to continue opera training. Her favorite onstage credits include Hedy LaRue in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2014, UAH Theatre) and Audrey in Leading Ladies (2015, Theatre Huntsville). She was recently recognized as Best Stage Manager by Huntsville Theatre Reviews (2016, ‘Dentity Crisis).