A selection of clothes on hangers

What to wear to a musical audition

By BBC Maestro

Whenever we receive an invitation to something like an audition or job interview, most of us have the same initial response: what am I supposed to wear? It can be a bit tricky knowing what to wear to a musical audition, especially if you’re new to the world of theatre. 

However, like most things, choosing an audition outfit is easy when you know what to do. In this article, we go through how to dress for an audition, looking at comfort and practicality as well as showstopping style. Take a look at some of our tips.

1. Follow the brief 

The starting point for choosing any audition outfit is to read the brief that your agent sends you. Much the same as a party invitation might specify ‘Black Tie’, some auditions have a dress code. There may be a note asking you to wear something specific for the character or advising you to bring clothes suitable for a dance audition. 

2. Wear clothes you can move in

Even if you’re pretty sure you’re not going to be asked to move about much, avoid restrictive clothes such as tailored jackets or bodycon skirts. Jeans are actually not as comfortable as you might think too, because denim is a stiff and unyielding fabric.  
Is there a dance component to the audition? Pack a pair of leggings, yoga pants or dance tights along with a dance top or t-shirt. 

woman standing selecting clothes

3. Go for cool and breathable fabrics 

Pure cotton is cool and breathable to wear, and is naturally temperature regulating. A jersey fabric (generally cotton with a touch of stretch) should also be easy to move in. Avoid linen even though it’s breathable because it creases badly. Some synthetic fibres like polyester blends can drape beautifully but aren’t as cool or comfortable and may lead to visible sweaty patches. 

4. Be comfortable 

When it comes to all-day comfort for any occasion, it’s often the little things that let you down. Watch out for wardrobe niggles, like too-short tights or shirts that gape at the placket. Don’t wear anything that you might end up fiddling with, such as too-loose straps or unreliable zips. 

5. Look professional

There’s comfortable and there’s off-duty, and it’s important to know the difference. In conventional dress code speak, you’re aiming for smart-casual, so opt for chinos over sweatpants (unless the brief says otherwise). However, there’s more to looking professional than the cut of your clothes. Make sure that everything is clean and pressed, that your clothes are a good fit and that your shoes aren’t dirty.  
For women, a wrap dress is a perfect audition outfit for musical theatre: smart, usually made from breathable fabrics and with a flared skirt that you can easily move in. 

6. Choose your colours carefully 

Avoid prints, which can be distracting, and choose a solid colour. Go for a colour that you know suits you, in a smart but noticeable shade like burgundy, dark green or royal blue. Avoid black, because a lot of people will default to this and you want to stand out. Top tip: if you’re “the chap in the orange polo shirt” at the first audition, be the chap in the orange polo shirt again for the call-backs. 

green crew neck shirt and gray crew neck shirt

7. Finding the right footwear 

The safest shoes to wear to a musical theatre audition are character shoes, which are designed for movement and comfort as well as to look professional. Make sure you pick a smart pair, rather than the ones that have seen many hours in the studio. Character shoes are the best option for both men and women. 

8. Do I dress like the character? 

If you’re auditioning for Eva Peron, styling your hair in a chignon won’t hurt. Likewise, you could wear black for an Addams Family role. However, don’t wear a frock coat for Hamilton or green greasepaint for Shrek: you can pay a nod to the character but don’t go full cosplay. Again, read the brief – there may be specific requirements in that, such as the character must be able to move wearing heels. 

9. Should my clothes show my figure? 

This is a tricky call to make. Obviously, we want to look our best and everyone feels more confident in a flattering outfit. However, sometimes casting directors need to have a good idea of an actor’s body type, so a baggy sweater or tunic dress may not be helpful. If you’re not sure about anything like this, have a chat with your agent. When choosing an outfit that shows off your figure, go for close-fitting rather than tight – there’s a world of difference. 

10. Do I pack spares?

If you feel more relaxed knowing you have a spare shirt or pair of tights in your bag, absolutely. You can always stick a needle and thread, safety pins and clear nail varnish in your bag too, to make up a basic emergency repair kit for any rips or tears.  

11. Make sure you feel fabulous 

Finally and absolutely essentially, you need to feel good about your audition ensemble. When you walk out on stage or up to the front of the room, you need to have the inner confidence that comes from knowing that you look fabulous. Have a dress rehearsal in front of your friends – their praise will help to reassure you. 
If you’re comfortable, can move easily and know that you look great, it’s a winning outfit. 
Find out more about auditioning for a musical in Sir Tim Rice’s BBC Maestro course, Writing and Performing Musical Theatre. He’ll guide you through a huge range of topics, sharing his own incredible experiences as you go along.

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