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Dreams come true for actor with drive.

Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard

Eric Millegan used to dream about the Great White Way. He used to dream about movies and television and New York and Los Angeles and bright lights and big cities.

Well, his dream not only came true, it's thriving.

The 30-year-old Millegan, a 1991 graduate of Springfield High School, has already done Broadway - five years ago - and this spring landed a role on a new Fox TV series, "Bones," set to air this fall. In fact, Millegan auditioned for seven potential new series earlier this year during television's hectic "pilot season" that occurs every winter and early spring in Los Angeles.

"It was very, very exciting," Millegan says from his cell phone in West Hollywood. He's staying there with a friend until he sees whether L.A. will be a more permanent residence after a decade of living in New York City.

In the competitive business of acting - of Hollywood and Broadway and a world where most not only don't make a living, they don't make a dime - Millegan's success is impressive, but not surprising, say those who saw his rise on local stages.

"Not at all," says Ed Ragozzino, the longtime Eugene theater director and producer who worked with Millegan in numerous local shows. Ragozzino likens the baby-faced Millegan to Matthew Broderick in looks and appeal, and to Craig Wasson - a Sheldon High School graduate who starred in local theater productions in the early 1970s and then went on to star in several Hollywood feature films - in guts and perseverance.

"These are special kids who decide they're going to do it, and they'll do anything to get it done," Ragozzino says.

Since The Register-Guard wrote about Millegan in 2000, when he played multiple roles in the Broadway revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar" and performed with the cast on that year's Tony Awards, his career has blossomed and is earning critical praise.

"Eric Millegan displays a sheepdog look and manner reminiscent of Matthew Broderick," wrote Bob Rendall in the online theater magazine Talkin' Broadway. Rendall watched Millegan perform in "Harold and Maude," a stage version of the 1972 film performed last fall and earlier this year at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J. Millegan starred opposite Oscar-winner Estelle Parsons in the production.

"Millegan is good, but he will be better when he loosens up a little and injects a bit of the Broderick slyness into his performance," Rendall wrote.

Millegan also auditioned recently for the Broadway musical production of "Mask" in an attempt to land the role of "Rusty" (played by Eric Stoltz in the 1985 film).

Eric's father, Lloyd Millegan of Springfield, says the key to his son's success has been his persistence.

"He doesn't give up," says the elder Millegan, vice president of investments for Smith Barney in Eugene. Lloyd Millegan took his son to see a performance of "Madame Butterfly" at Sheldon High School when he was about 7 years old, and he became enthralled with the character of "Trouble," played by a young boy not much older than he.

"How could I be that little boy?" Eric asked his father.

Lloyd Millegan called the Eugene Opera's office and made an appointment. It wasn't long before Eric Millegan had his first part - playing a shepherd in a performance of "Amahl and the Night Visitors." That was followed by roles in "Annie," "The King and I," "Oliver!" "The Music Man," "Bye Bye Birdie," "Camelot" and a host of others through high school.

"I'd never seen anybody who was that dedicated," Ragozzino says. "He was sort of scrawny and had a pipsqueak voice, but he just beat 'em all."

He persevered.

Then he graduated No. 1 in his class at Springfield High - where he recently returned to teach an acting workshop - when he was just 16, having skipped a grade in elementary school. During his summers in high school, Millegan attended the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp at the University of Michigan and eventually earned a scholarship at the school and majored in musical theater. By age 20, he had graduated with a bachelor's degree in fine arts and was living in New York City pursuing his dreams.

Now, a decade later, he is in Los Angeles and ready for his television debut on Sept. 13. "Bones" is a one-hour drama inspired by real-life forensic anthropologist and novelist Kathy Reichs. It's the story of the fictional anthropologist, Dr. Temperance Brennan, who works at the Jeffersonian Institution and writes novels on the side.

Millegan plays the character of Zack Addy, Brennan's assistant. His character is described as "a young prodigy whose genius IQ actually gets in the way of his finishing the several doctorates he has begun."

Unable to finish as a character on the small screen, in reality Eric Millegan is just beginning a new dream and role: TV star.

CAPTION(S):

Eric Millegan stands with actress Estelle Parsons at an opening night party for the play "Harold and Maude."
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Title Annotation:Television
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 3, 2005
Words:827
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