Chad Runyon is an award-winning vocal performer, conductor, and instructor.

Posted November 9th, 2013
Filed under Essays

Audition Attire

Straight Theatre and Musical Theatre

After asking two Directors, a Choreographer and a Costume Designer, I came up with the following take-home message on what to wear to an actor or actor/singer audition.  Classical Singer auditions are similar with the possible exception of dance trunks for women.


1) Wear character shoes or heels to auditions.  Taller women should carry a pair of flats with them just in case they may be paired with other, shorter actors.  Shoes should be easy to get in/out of.

2) Wear a dress to auditions with dance trunks underneath.  You never know what might happen.  You may be asked to do a cartwheel or handstand.  Be prepared!


1) Wear dark dress shoes.  They should be comfortable, shined and easy to move in.

2) Wear a dark, long sleeved shirt.  Jacket and/or Tie optional.  Dress slacks, solid color.


No jeans, no tennis shoes/sneakers/Keds.  Avoid white top unless you are wearing a jacket (it detracts from your face).  Avoid short-sleeved shirts.

Specific Recommendations for women from … 


1) I always (play or musical) recommend character shoes because they tend to lift actors into a character. Flats can affect posture.

2) A women should only wear pants if all of the characters she is hoping to play are pant women. She should carry a change of clothes in her audition bag in case they ask for movement/dance.

Choreographer/Female (musical theatre)

1) It really depends on the show, the role desired and the actor.  Character shoes say “I want to show you my dance training.”  (They should be prepared to back it up).  However a great pair of street heels say “look at me now and listen to me sing.” (Shows confidence in their vocal ability).  Girls 5′ 7″ and over should always throw a pair of flats in their bag in case they are paired with a short scene partner.

2) Jeans are not appropriate for auditions. She should appear “pulled together” vs too casual. If she chooses a dance dress she should wear dance trunks and tights to be prepared for anything. The audition notice should clarify if they are doing dance auditions or not. Usually it’s a separate call.


1) Personally, I only want to see character shoes at a dance audition.  The trend is to wear really cute shoes and a cute dress.  Your shoes should be functional, so not a very high heel.  Flats are always good too, as long as they are cute.  Investing in audition clothes/outfits is tax deductible and necessary in this business.

2) I think wearing a dress is always awesome.  If you have a gymnastics background always wear dance trunks under your dress.  Not only will she look great, she will look prepared.  The only time I wear jeans is if I know the theatre is very informal.  Even then, I wear boots and a blazer.  I do a very polished informal look.

Costume Designer/Male

1) In regards to shoes, I would say heels are best, if not the only option. As mentioned before it shows off a better posture than wearing flats would. Also it portrays the actress as more confident and mature. For straight plays, not musicals, regular heels would be better, than character heels, but something she can take on and off easy should they ask her to do so. A heel height taller than1.5 inches but not over 3 is most likely best. Neutral colors are better; I would have to say nude/tan is the best option. Make sure the actress practices walking in the heels before the audition! Also it doesn’t hurt though to bring a pair of flats in her bag just in case.

2) Definitely wear a dress. It’s more formal, and its what’s expected from the people she is auditioning for. Something that fits her body well, nothing too sexy or too frumpy, just enough to be feminine. As far as colors go, keep it neutral and basic. Nothing too distracting, like loud patterns and colors. A basic green or blue is always a good bet. She will definitely want dance trunks under her dress; you never know what may happen, even for straight theatre! Tights I would say are optional, whatever she is most comfortable with.

For Men

1) Shoes for men are tricky. They want something formal but not very clunky. Regular dress shoes are very heavy and bulky and draw too much attention to one’s feet, versus the selling point, one’s face. So I would suggest wearing something sleek and slimmer in design, such as a pair of wingtips or even just a very tight-looking shoe. No tennis shoes or slip-ons. Make sure to match the color of the shoes to the outfit. For example brown shoes go well with khakis or slight pants while black shoes go best with black or very dark slacks. Also, always make sure to match the color of the shoes to the belt! Brown with brown and black with black!

2) Men’s attire should look relaxed but still formal and presentable. A good choice for a top is a nice button down, make sure it is well pressed, and then I roll up the sleeves and unbutton the top 2 buttons. Good colors are green, blue, and rust orange/red. You will want to see what color works best with your eyes and skin, but you will not want anything too loud because you don’t want it to distract from you and your performance. Then pair it with khakis or dark slacks. Make sure to pair the pants properly with the top, like black slacks with a darker color while khakis go well with lighter colors.