Dressing for Your Musical Theatre College Audition

“We don’t know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don’t always appreciate their fragility.”      Malcolm Gladwell

Like it or not, first impressions matter. So use the way you dress to make a great impression by dressing appropriately for each stage of the audition.

Musical Theatre auditions are usually comprised of at least two parts: the song/monologue portion and the dance call. Pay special attention to the dress requirements for the dance call; you may be asked to bring several kinds of dance shoes or to wear specific dance attire. You often have to change quickly between audition segments, so make sure you have everything you need for the audition day.

As for the song/monologue component, you should look neat and polished. Musical Theatre audition wear has gotten a lot more casual in recent years. It used to be that dresses and suits were the rule, but no longer. Think “first date cute”. You can be stylish and express your personality and still being professional and appropriate. Here are some guidelines.

 Nice jeans, fashionable sneakers, boots, dresses, skirts, jumpsuits, dress pants, button-down shirts, etc…are all acceptable. A suit jacket is probably too formal, and a tie is not mandatory with a button-down shirt, but you can wear a tie or bow tie, if it suits your personal style. Definitely avoid “athleisurewear”, though.

 Cocktail attire and formalwear are too stuffy for musical theatre auditions.

 Religious institutions tend to be a bit more conservative, though, so bear this in mind when choosing an outfit for these particular schools. Think more in the lines of “church attire” for these schools.

 Be sure that your clothing fits you well!  Avoid shirts or pants that are way too big, skinny jeans, or super tight shirts; all of these extremes are ill-advised. Button-down shirts should fit well through the neck, sleeves and shoulders, skimming the body, rather than hanging or hugging. Pants should sit at the waist, be worn with a belt if they have belt loops, and be properly hemmed for your height.

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 Make sure that skirts and dresses are no shorter than two inches above the knee; if you choose to wear a shorter skirt please wear opaque tights or leggings to avoid a “wardrobe malfunction” when bending over to talk to the pianist.

 Avoid clothing that is low-cut, revealing, clingy, or sheer.

 Low/mid heels and dress shoes are fine, as are flats, but avoid high heels and stilettos, as they affect your alignment and can be hard to sing and move in. A block heel or flat is best. Practice your pieces in your audition shoes! Flip flops are a big no.

 Keep makeup and jewelry simple; don’t over-accessorize. Also, make sure that your hair is neat and off your face.

 Solid colors are better than big, busy patterns, but you can wear more subtly patterned clothing; bright colors are fine, as long as they are good colors for you. Colors that flatter your complexion and hair color always make a good impression.

 Wear an outfit that you feel confident and comfortable performing in. We want the real you to shine through.

Nadine Gomes

Nadine Gomes has spent her career exploring the genres of musical theatre, jazz, and opera as a singer and voice teacher. She is a full-time Lecturer in Voice in the Theatre Conservatory in the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where she has been on faculty since 2004.   Nadine received an M.M. in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the Music Conservatory in CCPA at Roosevelt University, she earned a B.S. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, and she was a Vocal Jazz Performance Major at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Her students sing on Broadway, in national tours, in regional theatres, and throughout Chicago.