This article first appeared in auditionoracle.com
A colleague recently attended a workshop on singing auditions and working in rehearsal. Part of the day’s exercises was a series of mock auditions in which participants would sing to the group as if in an audition situation, so that they could get feedback on how they came across, not only through their singing but also their general presentation.
One of the suggestions from the panel was that on occasion it may feel appropriate to come dressed in a manner pertinent to the role on offer. Taking this advice at its word, one of the participants came dressed in costume, including a hat. This enterprising initiative was welcomed by the panel – although it was noted that the hat actually obscured the performer’s face, on balance not an ideal situation for a first-time encounter.
In general, the ‘rule’ (there’s no rule, just good sense!) for dressing for auditions is to be comfortable so that you can sing well. In America, the idea of actually coming dressed in a manner which shows that you are already thinking about fitting into the role on offer is more accepted. The culture of competition (in the business sense) is more established and this may lend itself to this trend.
The problem is, of course, that you may have the director and designer in the room who have their own ideas for a character’s look, which is immediately at odds with what you have decided to wear. Even if you have got reliable information about the direction in which the production design is going to go, this is still a risky business. The only way to dress for a role is to wear clothes that are directly relevant to the character as represented in the original text (or libretto) and of the period in question. Clearly, hats are difficult – obviously, a mask is not appropriate. Above all, wearing something distracting is going to be counterproductive. Make-up may have the same concealing-vs-enhancing issues; go easy on the eye shadow.
Don’t be put off though! If you feel comfortable – that word again – in the costume in which you have imagined performing and you feel that it is appropriate (donkey’s ears for Bottom, etc.) you may have a great opportunity to make a strong impression on a panel. Fulfill the promise of your own conviction. And sing well!