He may not be a household name, but Eric Millegan is the closest thing Springfield has to a local child actor who grew up to be a star of stage and screen.
Born in New Jersey but raised in Springfield, Millegan, now 47, got his start under the guidance of Eugene theater veteran Joe Zingo, who oversaw his work during the 1980s with groups ranging from Eugene Opera (young Millegan’s first stage role was in the chorus in Amahl and the Night Visitors) to Zingo’s then-newly formed Actors Cabaret of Eugene, which cast him in such shows as Annie, Wizard of Oz and Camelot.
Jump ahead a few decades and Millegan, by then living in New York City, appeared in 63 episodes as Dr. Zack Addy on the television series Bones, with occasional spots on Law and Order: Criminal Intent and 100 Centre Street. He’s also done theatrical roles on and off Broadway, including Jesus Christ, Superstar.
Now he’s coming back to Eugene to take on the lead role of Buddy in Elf: The Musical, which opens Nov. 19, marking the post-pandemic return to live performance for Actors Cabaret of Eugene. And, yes, Zingo is directing the show, 30 years after he last directed Millegan, in ACE’s Sweeney Todd.
Based on the 2003 movie with Will Ferrell, Elf, which opened on Broadway in 2010, is about the adventures of Buddy, who discovers he’s not a real elf and learns from Santa that his real dad is in New York City and on the “Naughty List.” So Buddy sets off to the Big Apple.
Casting a New York pro in a community theater play came about after Millegan filmed a video audition tape for the national tour of Elf six years ago. When he didn’t get the job, he posted the video on Facebook, where Zingo saw it years later and emailed him that Actor’s Cabaret was looking for a Buddy. “I’d cast you,” he wrote.
“If you’re serious, let’s do it,” Millegan emailed back. By then he was living with his husband, Charles Michel, for a two-year visit in Anacortes, Washington, where Millegan — who publicly announced in 2010 that he suffers from bipolar disorder — has been working as a peer mental health counselor and directing a community theater production of The Fantasticks.
To get ready for the ACE show, he applied for and received a union waiver allowing him to work at a community theater, and has been making the six-hour one-way drive twice a week from Anacortes for rehearsals.
Millegan’s looking forward to acting and singing again on his home territory. “I haven’t done a musical since Pirates [of Penzance, with Eugene Opera] in 2006!” he says.
Elf the Musical opens 7:30 pm Friday, Nov. 18, and runs through Dec. 18 at Actors Cabaret of Eugene, 996 Willamette Street. Tickets are $20-25 at 541-683-4368. No dinner or brunch will be served for this show. More info at ActorsCabaret.org.