Drew Seeley in The Little Mermaid
I get to boss people around, wear a fancy costume, dance with beautiful mermaids and meet my fans every night at the stage door. I’m loving it.
Hometown: Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Currently: Charming audiences as Prince Eric, Ariel’s landlocked suitor in Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Little Prince: At age 11, Seeley made his professional stage debut as one of the children in Toronto’s Broadway-bound production of Show Boat. “That was my first acting job and a quick lesson, because I got to work with Hal Prince, Susan Stroman and Elaine Stritch,” he says of the superstar director, choreographer and actress. Did it register at the time that he was working with a trio of Broadway legends? “I didn’t have a clue,” admits Seeley. “I was like ‘What’s up Hal? Nice to meet you!’” Unfortunately, the young actor didn’t get to transfer to Broadway with the show. “I just got too big,” he says. After a move to Orlando, Florida, Seeley went on to star in high school productions, including Jack and the Wolf in Into the Woods (“those were some quick changes!”), Tulsa in Gypsy and Captain Keller in The Miracle Worker.
Gettin’ in the Game: Seeley continued acting at the University of Central Florida, where he majored in advertising, then moved to California. “I did the whole struggling actor thing,” he says, “and lucked into being in the right place at the right time and getting involved in the first High School Musical.” It was Seeley’s song-writing that first attracted Disney’s attention: He received an Emmy nomination for co-writing HSM’s catchy “Get'cha Head in the Game.” Eventually, he was asked to fill in for Zac Efron, both as an additional voice for Troy Bolton and on the concert tours that followed the film’s success. “It was insane! It was absolutely ridiculous,” Seeley exclaims of the huge venues the cast played, which included South American soccer stadiums that held 60,000. When the performers attempted to alter lyrics for their Spanish-speaking audiences, the plan backfired. “We’d sing certain verses in Spanish, trying to reach out and cross boundaries. The thing is, they had memorized all the songs in English so when we started singing in Spanish, they were like ‘What are these guys doing?’”
I’m a Pop Star (and I Play One on TV): As if being a pop star wasn’t crazy enough, Seeley balanced the touring life with shooting his first movie, Another Cinderella Story. In the film, he played pop star Joey Parker, a modern-day Prince Charming to Selena Gomez’ Cinderella-based dancer. “I’d do a show in Chicago on Saturday and Detroit on Sunday, fly to Vancouver Sunday night and start shooting Monday morning,” he recalls. “It was the perfect introduction [to film] because I was sort of living the [character’s] life already, so it was a great way to ease into that.”
Part of Their World: Being cast as Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid has given Seeley the opportunity to really delve into Disney royalty. “I get the world at my feet, like a real prince,” he says with a laugh. “I’m living in New York, getting paid to do what I love. I get to boss people around, wear a fancy costume, dance with beautiful mermaids and meet my fans every night at the stage door. I’m loving it.” He’s been welcomed with open arms, helped by the fact that former understudy Chelsea Morgan Stock began performances as Ariel around the same time he joined the cast. “I like that we got to start our version of Ariel and Eric at the same time," he says. "I got to have a buddy doing that."
Give Him a Ring! “I like to be accessible,” Seeley says—so much so, that a phone number on his website invites fans to call him up for a chat! “They’re sort of surprised and shocked that they actually get through,” he reports of the admirers who take him up on the offer, which involves a fan phone line that can be routed into his cell phone. “They just sit, silent, and I apologize for making them feel awkward.” That’s not the only way Seeley keeps his fans in mind. Knowing that many people would not be able to make it to New York to see him in The Little Mermaid, he recorded a pop version of Eric’s love ballad, “Her Voice,” which is available to download for free, complete with a music video shot in Brooklyn.
Doing It All: Seeley plans to continue balancing acting, singing and songwriting. “I think focusing limits you,” he says thoughtfully. “As long as nothing that I’m doing suffers from my ADD in wanting to do everything, then I want to just keep doing everything. It keeps it fresh and fun.” A solo album is in the works, along with a web-isode in which he plays a vampire alongside High School Musical co-star Lucas Grabeel. He hopes his stint in The Little Mermaid isn’t the last he sees of the Great White Way. “If they ever put Crazy For You up again, I’d love to play Bobby Child,” he says. “I really hope for more Broadway. I didn’t think I was going to love it this much. I would love to stay here.”