ACTOR, SINGER, DANCER, AND SONGWRITER Drew Seeley launched his professional career at age 11, when he landed a role in the 1993 Toronto revival of the classic musical Show Boat. He’s barely slowed down since.

Born in Canada, Seeley moved to the United States as a child, graduating from Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Since then, Seeley has performed on Broadway as Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid and as Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys. But he is perhaps best known as the singing voice for Troy in Disney’s High School Musical, a role he subsequently played in the concert tour across North and South America. Seeley earned an Emmy nomination for one of that show’s key songs, “Getcha Head in the Game,” which he penned with producer Ray Cham.

Chelsea Morgan Stock and Drew Seeley in The Little Mermaid.

Chelsea Morgan Stock and Drew Seeley in The Little Mermaid. Photo by Joan Marcus.

In 2013, Seeley married actress and television host Amy Paffrath. The two regularly give back as volunteers with The Thirst Project, KidsPlay International, and Homes4Families. “We’ve been given a platform, and we’re choosing to use it to help others,” Seeley said. “A great paycheck has given me momentary happiness, but that quickly fades because no amount is ever enough. Whereas giving your time and abilities in the service of others gives infinite dividends to you and the people you’re helping. Find time to spread a little love — the world needs it!”

You started dancing at a young age and were working professionally while still a child. What sparked your interest in performing? 
My sister and I were fortunate that our mom was a substitute teacher and could choose her workdays, which afforded us rides to auditions. I got into dance at age 7 or 8, studying tap, ballet, and jazz. Music spoke to me and I loved to sing, but I never did it professionally until Show Boat. I was 11 when I was cast as one of the eight kids in the original Toronto production. It was directed by Hal Prince and choreographed by Susan Stroman, which meant nothing to me at the time, other than the fact that they were really sweet folks. Most of that cast went on to open the Broadway production the following year, but I grew too tall and was kindly given the ax. I was heartbroken for a bit, but after doing that show for a year, I knew I wanted to keep performing in any way I could.

You were an active Thespian, performing in productions of Into the WoodsGypsyOnce upon a MattressThe Miracle Worker, and The Merchant of Venice — even taking a duet scene to the Florida State Thespian Festival. What are your favorite memories of performing in high school? 
Troupe 2888! My first role as a high school Thespian was the Minstrel in Once upon a Mattress. I can still sing those songs by heart. I had a fake papier-mâché lute my mom made. My favorite roles were playing both Jack and The Wolf in Into the Woods. It made for some very fast quick changes. That music is so complicated and smart and beautiful. And, yeah, it was a real honor to get recognized at the state festival alongside Ben Pelteson for our scene from The Judas Kiss. Our Lake Brantley High School drama teacher, Jane Mueller, always pushed us to take risks and be fearless. Her guidance during my teenage years is a big part of why I’m still doing this professionally today.

In addition to acting, you’re a prolific songwriter who started writing at 13. Do you think the skills you use as a songwriter make you a better actor and vice versa? 
I think of songwriting the same way as screenwriting. You’re telling a story — it just has to be condensed to three or four minutes. Sure, some tunes are just a repeating hook meant to be danced to, but songs that have an arc and payoff are always more interesting to me. I’ve found being able to sing, dance, and act has opened so many more doors than if I only had one or two things in my toolbox. I’m not saying don’t specialize and become incredible at one thing if that’s your passion. But there’s something to be said for being a jack of all trades. You will work more, and the varied challenges keep you fresh and on your toes.

You have carved out such variety in your career — moving from TV to Broadway to writing. What projects are you working on now?
The biggest project in my world right now is the upcoming birth of my first child. That’s stealing all my focus. But professionally, I’d love to start writing longform content and vehicles for my wife and me to produce, direct, or star in down the road — just taking more ownership of the stories I want to tell. I’ve been very blessed in this business, but I’m not resting on my laurels.

What advice would you give current theatre students? 
Be on time, be courteous, ask questions, be engaged, and be engaging. Put the phone down and be present — that’s a note to myself also, as the phone is magnetically attached to my fingers. And be clear about what your goal is. Once you’ve built your résumé as far as you can in your town, be bold, go where the work is, and jump in. You owe it to yourself to try.

Matt Bogart, Mark Ballas, Drew Seeley, and Nicolas Dromard in Jersey Boys.
Matt Bogart, Mark Ballas, Drew Seeley, and Nicolas Dromard in Jersey Boys. Photo by Joan Marcus.
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