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Stepping into Reese's hot pink pumps

Kenny Kemp
Micah Atkinson (right, with Allison Plants) stars as Elle Woods in the Charleston Light Opera Guild's production of "Legally Blonde." The musical, based on the 2001 Reese Witherspoon film of the same name, opens Friday at the Civic Center Little Theater.

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WANT TO GO?

"Legally Blonde"

Presented by the Charleston Light Opera Guild

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Aug. 3-4 and 3 p.m. Sunday and Aug. 5

WHERE: Civic Center Little Theater

COST: $20

INFO: 304-343-2287 or www.charlestonlightoperaguild.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Micah Atkinson considered going blonde for her starring role as Elle Woods in the Charleston Light Opera Guild's production of "Legally Blonde." That thought didn't last long.

"I considered [dyeing it], but I like my hair too much," said the 22-year-old brunette, who will wear a wig instead.

"Legally Blonde" opens Friday at the Civic Center Little Theater with Atkinson taking on the role played by Reese Witherspoon in the 2001 film. The Tony-nominated musical, which opened on Broadway in 2007, follows the film's plot about a bubbly Southern California sorority girl-turned-Harvard law student.

Atkinson explained, "Elle is absolutely in love with [her boyfriend] Warner, who she thinks will propose to her. Instead, he breaks up with her to go to law school at Harvard.

"She goes out there and goes through the process of applying to Harvard just to be with him, to convince him that she can be serious. Eventually, she has her own little journey and discovers that she can be more than just a pretty face."

Atkinson, who is entering her senior year as a musical theater major at Nashville's Belmont University, was attracted to the show because it's different from those that she normally does.

"I've done more classical, old Broadway sort of things," she said. "What appealed to me is that it's more of a contemporary show with lots of high energy numbers, so I thought that would be a nice challenge."

Among the 2008 Capital High School graduate's past local credits are "Annie," "Gypsy," "Into the Woods" and "Cinderella" with the guild; "Oklahoma," "Cinderella" and "The Phantom of the Opera" at Capital and "Romeo & Juliet" and "Mary" with the Contemporary Youth Arts Company.

She is also an accomplished singer, having sung with the Capital High VIP show choir, competed in the first West Virginia Symphony's "Symphony Idol" competition, performed as a symphony featured vocalist and released a CD with her father, Mark.

Despite all her performing experience, the actress, who's "a really big Reese Witherspoon fan," admitted to being intimidated by her role at first.

"I've never done a show like this, never played a part like this," she said. "Once I got the part, I was thinking that everybody would think of Reese, so I was thinking, 'How am I going to do this?'

"I knew I had to make it my own character. Even though it was made famous by her, by someone I really admire, I knew I had to keep my own mindset and make it my own."

Atkinson will be joined in the show by Cameron Vance as Warner, Matthew Bryant as Emmett, Toni M. Pilato as Vivienne, Allison Plants as Paulette, Rudi Raynes-Kidder as Brooke and Michael D. Gore as Professor Callahan. (Those roles in the film were played by Matthew Davis, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Jennifer Coolidge, Ali Larter and Victor Garber, respectively.)

Other cast members are Steve Brannon, Cameron Burford, Jessica Cooper, Lindsey Duvall, Paul R. Isaacs Jr., Tyler Lee, Jeannie Matras, Afsheen Misaghi, Erin Murphy, Bill Rainey and Caroline Chamness Rainey, Joshua Price, Danae L. Samms, Ashley and Kristin Showen, Madeline Southall, Megan Sydnor, Carly Thaw, Austin Thomas, Allison and Tim Whitener, Sarah Williams and Mark Worlledge.

"It's a really, really fun show with a fantastic cast," Atkinson said. "People will really like it. It's just so fun and exciting."

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4881.


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