"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 flips...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4881.