Antagonists in theatre are diverse in personalities and motives, and villain numbers are often the most memorable in their respective shows. Whether they rise up in politics or shatter people’s expectations one chandelier at a time, contemporary villains are maliciously marvelous. In fact, the best villains are the ones who also fit into protagonist roles, claiming the center of attention for most of their show.
To honor some of the more recent villains in musical theatre, here are 16 of our favorite contemporary villain numbers, with contemporary meaning everything from 1989 onward1.
1. ’Poor Unfortunate Souls’ from ‘The Little Mermaid’
This classic Disney villain number features Ursula the Sea Witch taking away Ariel’s voice in exchange for the mermaid becoming human for three days. Sherie Rene Scott (“The Last Five Years,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”) performed this song for the Broadway adaptation.
2. ’Be Prepared’ from ‘The Lion King’
Scar, Mufasa’s brother, plots with the hyenas to have Mufasa and his son, Simba, murdered so that Scar can take over the Pridelands.
3. ‘Meant to Be Yours’ from ‘Heathers’
J.D. confronts his partner-in-crime, Veronica, telling her that instead of killing her, he plans on wiping out their high school’s entire student body.
4. ‘Hellfire’ from ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’
Judge Frollo faces an internal struggle as he lusts after Esmeralda while blaming her for his descent into darkness.
5. ‘Alive!’ from ‘Jekyll and Hyde’
After drinking a potion, Henry Jekyll is consumed by his alter ego, Edward Hyde, and sets out to wreak havoc throughout London.
6. ‘Miss Baltimore Crabs’ from ‘Hairspray’
Velma von Tussle, who produces “The Corny Collins Show,” encounters Tracy Turnblad for the first time and is repulsed by Tracy’s plus-sized figure and progressive views.
7. ‘The Room Where It Happens’ from ‘Hamilton’
As a result of the Compromise of 1790, Aaron Burr, rival of Alexander Hamilton, decides to run as a Democratic-Republican candidate to be in the same league as Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
8. ‘The Smell of Rebellion’ from ‘Matilda’
Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress of Crunchem Hall, puts Miss Honey’s class through a brutal gym lesson and has an argument with Matilda.
9. ‘The Beauty Underneath’ from ‘Love Never Dies’
The Phantom leads the musical child prodigy Gustave (Christine’s son) through the grotesque wonders of Phantasma.
10. ‘I Will Prevail’ from ‘Wonderland’
With Chloe, the Caterpillar, El Gato and the White Knight in her captive, the Mad Hatter is determined to win her battle.
11. ‘Mr. Cladwell’ from ‘Urinetown’
The staff of the Urine Good Company sing their praises of corrupt CEO Caldwell B. Cladwell.
12. ‘Falcon in the Dive’ from ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’
Citizen Chauvelin, an agent for the French, resolves to help Robespierre find out who the Scarlet Pimpernel is.
13. ‘Hard to Be the Bard’ from ‘Something Rotten’
Suffering from writer’s block, Shakespeare complains about how hard it is to be famous.
14. ‘Killing Spree’ from ‘American Psycho’
After killing Paul Owen and taking his place in Owen’s apartment, Patrick Bateman continues to commit more murders for three months.
15. ‘When the Going Gets Tough’ from ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’
To help combat the nearby volcano, Plankton tells Bikini Bottom’s citizens to enter his escape pod, which will then hypnotize them into working for Plankton’s restaurant, the Chum Bucket.
16. ‘Like Father, Like Son’ from ‘Aida’
Zoser, the chief minister of Egypt, warns that Radames’ affair with the Nubian princess Aida could cost Radames his chance of becoming the next pharaoh.
Did we leave out your favorite contemporary villain number? Let us know in the comments below…