|“||We hear you comrades! The Revolution hears you! Together, we will forge a new Russia, that will be the envy of all the world! The Czars Saint Petersburg, is now the people's Leningrad!||„|
|~ -Gleb's first lines in the musical.|
General Gleb Vaganov is the main antagonist of the Broadway musical adaptation of Don Bluth's animated film Anastasia, replacing a fictionalized Rasputin in that role. Though less vicious than Rasputin and not a sadistic monster, Gleb is a dedicated member of the Bolsheviks who rule post-Tsar Russia with an iron fist, and becomes ordered to kill Anya so as to keep the long lost Grand Duchess Anastasia from ever returning.
He is played by Ramin Karimloo in the original cast for the musical.
Gleb was just a child when the Russian Revolution occurred, and heard the screams of the Romanov family as they were being shot dead. Afterwards, his father (who had been one of the triggermen), died from shame for his part in the atrocity. For his part, Gleb tried to convince himself that his father did the right thing, and as a young man would join the Bolsheviks. By 1927 (the year most of the musical's story takes place), he is a general in the Bolshevik army.
Gleb first appears in the story proper announcing to the miserable Russian people that Saint Petersburg is now "the people's Leningrad". However, it is clear from the bitter and sarcastic lyrics of the following song ("A Rumor in St. Petersburg") that the now poorer Russian citizenry see Gleb and his fellow Bolsheviks for the despots and hypocrites that they are. Nevertheless, Gleb remains convinced that the Bolshevik way is the right one. During the song, he first meets Anya and comforts her when she panics upon hearing a truck back-fire (thinking it a gunshot). He offers to take her to a tea-shop, but she politely declines.
Gleb is later seen filing away rumors and laments that they never seem to end ("The Rumors Never End"). He is dismissive when a trio of prostitutes try to tell him that con-men Dmitri and Vlad are attempting to pass off a girl as the princess Anastasia, but later has a talk with Anya where he tries to convince her (and himself), that Anastasia really is dead ("The Neva Flows"). However, he does note that Anya seems to have the "Romanov eyes". Nevertheless, he lets her off with a warning.
Later, Gleb is given orders to find Anya and eliminate her, whether she really is the princess Anastasia or not. Gleb balks at this, but feels he must go through with it ("Still"). Upon tracking her down to Paris, he gets into the ballet where she is going to reunite with her grandmother the Dowager Empress, again conflicting over what he has been told to do versus what he wants to do ("Quartet at the Ballet"). Finally, after Anya has proven to her grandmother and herself that she really is the Grand Duchess Anastasia, Gleb confronts her just as she is about to leave to go to Dmitri. Anastasia forces Gleb to accept the reality that she is in fact the Grand Duchess, and the last of the Romanovs. Still bitter and hateful towards the royal family he blames for Russia's deterioration, Gleb draws a gun and threatens to shoot Anastasia, who defiantly tells him to do it, so that she will be with her murdered parents and siblings ("Still/The Neva Flows Reprise"). But, when faced with the same choice his father was confronted with ten years prior, Gleb realizes he does not have it in him to commit cold-blooded murder, and relents. He allows Anastasia to go, and along with the Dowager Empress, tells the press that there "never was an Anastasia", and so there is no need to keep up the hunt. "The case", as Gleb puts it, "is closed".
- He is similar to the character Inspector Javert from Les Miserables, in that both are conflicted and morally gray antagonists who relentlessly hunt and pursue the main heroes because they believe it is their duty and responsibility to do so, only to not have the heart to kill them once they finally have them cornered.
- In many ways, Gleb can be seen as a dark reflection of Dmitri:
- Both are outwardly attractive and charismatic young men.
- Both of them are in love with Anya/Anastasia, though both also deny/try to ignore their feelings towards her for a time before finally admitting to them. Both are also torn between their love for Anya and what they feel they "must" do (for Dmitri, letting her go back to her family, for Gleb killing her).
- Both lost their fathers as a consequence of the Russian Revolution, but where Dmitri's father was killed by the Bolsheviks for fighting against them, Gleb's father died of shame due to his guilt over having killed for them.
- Both are openly disillusioned with the concept of monarchs, Dmitri for having grown up in a miserable post-Tsar Russia, and Gleb for being a loyal Bolshevik who views the old Russian aristocracy with contempt.