Interview: Theatre Life with Faith Seetoo

The talented musical director on helming the North American tour of Disney's Frozen and more.

By: Dec. 22, 2023
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Interview: Theatre Life with Faith Seetoo
Faith Seetoo. Photo by Ellis C. Dawson.

Today’s subject Faith Seetoo is currently living her theatre life on the conductor’s podium as the musical director of the North American Tour of Disney’s Frozen. The show is currently running in the Opera House at Kennedy Center continuing through January 21st,2024.

Frozen is Faith’s fourth touring Disney production, having previously gone out across the country with Aladdin, Newsies, and The Lion King. Other touring credits include The Phantom of the OperaMiss SaigonMamma Mia!A Christmas StoryA Chorus LineSunset Boulevard starring Petula Clark, Titanic, and Bombay Dreams.

Regionally Faith has conducted productions of Into The Woods, Oklahoma!, Once On This Island, Guys and Dolls, and On the Town.

Conducting Disney’s Frozen on tour comes with a set of challenges that most touring shows face. When a tour closes in any city, usually on a Sunday matinee or evening, the crew has a day or two at most to get the show packed into the trucks and then get it set up in the next venue in a new city. On this particular tour, Faith has it slightly easier because usually Disney’s Frozen carries it’s whole orchestra from city to city. In the case of DC however, the orchestra is split between some touring and some local musicians. Because DC has such wonderful local players, I imagine the adjustment for Maestra Seetoo was an easy one.

Disney’s Frozen is one of those shows that you can see over and over again. Some go back for a repeat dose of “Let it Go” and some return with other family members for a theatrical experience everyone can enjoy together.

Please consider grabbing some tickets to Disney’s Frozen at Kennedy Center and when you do, sneak a peek at Maestra Faith Seetoo conducting a song or two. Without a strong Musical Director on tour, you are running the risk of the music falling in quality. Maestra Seetoo’s work on Disney’s Frozen keeps all of the musical elements of this production flying high. BRAVA!!!

At what age did you become interested in music? Was piano always your first choice of instrument?

My mother was in a terrible car accident, and my older sister bought her a Magnus organ to cheer her up. I took to playing it, and by the time I was five, I was playing by ear. I started piano lessons right before I turned eight. I guess you could say the piano chose me!

Where did you receive your musical training?

My first and only piano teacher was the wonderful Marion B. Stone of Claremont, CA. I have her to thank for giving me an incredibly strong foundation on which to base all my further studies. After studying with her for ten years, I obtained a B.M. in Piano Performance from Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, OH then earned a Diploma in Contemporary Keyboard Styles from the Dick Grove School of Music in Van Nuys, CA.

What was your first professional musical directing job?

My first professional musical directing job was for Godspell at the College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, NY.

Your credits include conducting three other Disney musicals on tour. How did you come to work for Disney in the first place?

I started working for Disney through being in the right place at the right time. The Lion King was looking for a first keyboardist, and the tour’s Company Manager - a friend of mine - happened to be at a performance of Company in Seattle for which I was playing in the pit. He leaned over the pit rail and asked me if I would be interested, and I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” He got my name to the right people, and I was hired. But each Disney show has its own creative team, so just because you work for Disney doesn't mean you’ll automatically be hired again. I’m not on contract with Disney other than for the particular show I’m working on at the time. I worked on the tour of The Lion King from 2007-2008, and it was six years until I worked for Disney again, on the tour of Newsies in 2014. The Music Supervisor of Newsies, Michael Kosarin, knew me because there was an out-of-town workshop in Seattle for Aladdin May 2011; he was also the Music Supervisor of that, and I was part of the local music team. (I had to audition for him in order to play the workshop. I still have the audition recordings I submitted of “Friend Like Me” and “Proud of Your Boy”!)

Interview: Theatre Life with Faith Seetoo
Caroline Bowman at center and the company of
the North American Tour of Disney's Frozen.
Photo by Deenvan Meer.

Frozen, as we all know, attracts many kids to each performance. I’m sure many of them gather at the orchestra pit on any given show. What would you say is your most memorable experience with a young audience member?

More than once mothers have come to the pit with their daughters and pointed out that I’m a woman. I am honored to show by example that a woman can be in a leadership role, and I’m especially proud to be the Music Director of a show about female empowerment and sisterly love.

You’ve been out on tour with some rather large musicals. Do you find Frozen one of the easier shows to tour as opposed to one that has a helicopter, or a chandelier attached to it?

There are so many factors that make tours easy or difficult to tour. A big one is the length of stay. The helicopter and chandelier stayed put for at least a month in each city, but in general Frozen moves every two weeks, so that makes it more difficult. That means you only have one day off during a stay - Monday in the middle of a run - because the other Mondays are spent traveling to the next venue. One thing that makes Frozen easier to tour for me is with a few exceptions we travel with our own orchestra, so that means I don’t have to spend six hours rehearsing a new group of musicians, as was the case with the other three Disney shows I’ve done. But I don’t mind rehearsing new groups of musicians; in fact, I have a fantastic group of local musicians here at the Kennedy Center!

Interview: Theatre Life with Faith Seetoo
L-R Caroline Bowman and Lauren Nicole Chapman in
the North American Tour of Disney's Frozen.
Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Why do you think Frozen resonates with audiences of all ages?

Besides having incredibly catchy tunes you leave the theatre humming, I think Frozen’s themes of dedication to family and sisterly love, embracing your true self, and love conquering all are universal and uplifting.

Special thanks to Kennedy Center's Senior Press Represenitive Brittany Laeger for her assistance in coordinating this interview.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.