It's two days before the big audition that will make or break you as a performer – which, as any thespian will agree, is pretty much every one you attend. So the almighty question is what to wear? If you’re serious about this part your floor should be covered in clothes by about… now.
Now remember you’re selling yourself not just as a performer but as a personality and fashion goes a long way to solidifying that image. What you choose to wear could very well reflect how much effort you’ve put into understanding the show and character you’re going for. I am not for a moment suggesting showing up in full costume – it will make you look desperate, especially if you let it compensate for a mediocre audition. If you let your apparel do all the work then you may as well get out the Sondheim, wine, and candles right now and sing away your depression at losing the part especially after you made all that effort to rent a tail coat.
What you wear isn’t just for the panel, it’s for the benefit of your rivals in the waiting room. Nothing intimidates more than someone who has made the extra effort – you could really put the fear of god in them. Make them quake in their clearly inferior pants that have a stain on them and that obvious rip in the pocket even though they’re not even auditioning for RENT.
For chaps who like to unleash their fabulous fashionista that’s all very well and good, but, if you’re auditioning for a leading man, ditch the camp. No matter how talented you are the panel aren’t going to take you seriously if you show up in a purple pinstripe suit with a scarlet silk shirt and cravat if you’re auditioning for the beast (not that I've ever done that). A simple shirt and trousers (give or take a blazer) should suffice. For character roles, on the other hand, something eccentric or a tiny bit loud could really make an impression.
If you’re unsure, black is always a safe option. It’s chic, slimming, and adds class and maturity. There are so many different variations on the same theme. If you can pull it off, when going for an ingénue role, try something that makes you look virginal or innocent. Keep it simple: a summer dress or blouse and skirt perhaps with a sweater or cardigan. White’s the obvious choice, of course, but perhaps a pale pink or sky blue, and accessorise with an Alice headband or some decorative combs.
Naturally if you got it, flaunt it. If your character oozes sexuality and attitude, show some leg or cleavage, and don’t feel subconscious about it. Own your beauty. These characters couldn’t care less how they look so whatever you choose make sure you feel comfortable. You could rock a mustard yellow tent if you were allowed to cut off the sleeves, shorten the skirt, and show off your assets. If you’re looking to play an older character – the Grande dame or such – you can really go to town. Go old school – it wasn’t so long ago that an actress wouldn't even consider attending an audition or rehearsal in anything less than dressed to the nines. So try a two piece suit, sleek hair, heels and make-up but add one distinctive feature: a hat, gloves, a scarf, perhaps even a boa. Why not? For girls on the large or busty side try dark colours, or, if you’re confident, something vibrant and remember that loose attire doesn’t conceal but it flatters.
Let's hope you never audition for these goons as, let's face it, they don't actually care how you look. Or sound.
Whether you’re taking your cues from 42nd Street or A Chorus Line for your dance audition needs I cannot state this enough: make sure you’re comfortable and can move. Many audition notices will elaborate on the preferred attire but you can add your own little zest. Again, this is a reflection of the show and how you can handle the choreography in that particular show. For Grease or West Side Story, boys would be advised to wear jeans. Not a new pair, but well-worn and loose for those splits. If not you can’t beat a t-shirt/singlet, shorts, or track suit pants. If it’s a period show, show a bit of class and go with some trousers and suspenders. Ladies can go very much the same route, but you really want to show off your femininity.
So, if you’ve got the physique, try a leotard and a long scarf tied around it in the colour of your choice. Some may require you to audition in a skirt or dress. Ensure that it’s short and shows of your legs – that’s what they want to see. Read, re-read, and memorise the style of dance the show is in so that you can choose the appropriate footwear. If you’re serious you should really have a pair of ballet flats, jazz, or tap shoes. Break these shoes in before you audition: they’re the only support you have in there – they are your best friends.
If you are not a dancer or are just breaking into 'the biz,' go with a pair of sturdy but light sneakers. If you are required to have heels make them a low heel. Actors and Actresses can take any of the above and switch it to their own ends. Unless it’s for whimsy, with the right touches you can keep the panel guessing and get that part.
Finally, work with your looks not against them. If you have a typical look embrace it and make it work for you.