Sometimes it's fun to pretend to be bad. That's how Logan Denninghoff describes his portrayal of Gaston in the upcoming Broadway touring production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, which comes to the Windermere Theatre on Feb. 20 at Toyota Center in Kennewick.
"Gaston doesn't start out to be a bad guy," he explained during a telephone interview with the Herald.
In fact, Gaston is the hottest lady's man in his village, and he's hot for Belle. But then his ugly side emerges. In a nutshell, Denninghoff said his character is charming in Act I. When Act II rolls around, Gaston has a sinister plan he believes will force Belle to marry him.
"He's in love with Belle, and when she doesn't return his love, that's the catalyst that sends him down a very bad road," Denninghoff said.
But even though it might be fun to play a bad boy once in a while, Denninghoff said it wasn't easy to tackle the personality of the character.
"Gaston is not smart. He's a dufus and a schemer, and in the end a very bad guy," he said. "I actually struggled to simplify my own intelligence in order to portray my character in a believable way.
"Gaston is funny and goofy in the beginning, but when he transitioned into an evil guy, I found it quite a challenging role, but I'm comfortable with it now."
Denninghoff said his favorite part of the show is the conclusion, when Gaston gets his due.
"I say that because it's at the end; I know I've done a good job if the audience applauds when Gaston dies," he quipped.
Denninghoff, 23, was born in Florida but grew up in the Seattle area. Now he makes his home in Atlanta when he's not touring.
He won his first singing role at age 10 at the 5th Avenue Theatre in downtown Seattle. The musical was The Sound of Music, and he played one of the von Trapp children.
"I loved it," he said. "And found out I was pretty good at singing."
After he earned a bachelor of music degree from Florida State University, he took off for the footlights of Broadway, eventually scoring the role of Gaston in Disney's Beauty and the Beast touring show.
His portrayal of the villainous Gaston earned him the award for best actor in a touring production last year from the Broadway World Awards of Chicago.
"I'm still excited about that award," Denninghoff said. "There were much more well-known actors up for that award, so I was truly honored to have won."
He said the Disney touring show follows the original story line, but it has a few different musical numbers that the movie does not.
Denninghoff plans to finish his tour for Disney, then head back to Atlanta and seek roles in film and TV.
"Atlanta is a hot bed for film and TV production right now," Denninghoff said. "It's one of the main reasons I decided to buy a house there. We'll see what happens."
Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $52 or $62 and are available at ticketmaster.com or the Toyota Center box office.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org