Posted on June 28, 2006 at 9:46 am
As some of you will recall, I sent out an e-mail earlier this year in which I asked for your recommendations of new and exciting performers. I got about four hundred suggestions, many of which were people I’d never heard of. My stalwart casting director, Mark Simon, and I whittled down the list to a somewhat manageable number, and we included as many of those people as we could in our State Farm singing auditions in April. Between those suggestions and the requests of the other staff and all the agent submissions, we saw about two hundred fifty people over two days.
During those two days of auditions, I sat next to our associate choreographer, the adorable and exuberant Carol Schuberg. In that time, every time an actor made an unfortunate fashion choice, Carol put it on a list of things that she felt a professional performer should never do when he or she is going to a high-level singing audition. (As you’ll note, the beginning of the list was all about shoes, but Carol’s scope broadened as the hours dragged by.) The list got longer and longer as the days passed, and since I knew many young (and old) performers who would consider her suggestions useful, I asked Carol if I could post the list here on my blog, and she graciously consented. I have edited the original list somewhat; some of the comments were just too specific (“Nevah! wear a big belt at the hip if you’re pear-shaped”) and some I honestly don’t know what she was talking about (“Nevah! stare into space with your navel showing”), but I think I’m including the most salient and helpful thoughts.
Since Carol is a very fashionable female performer with a fetish for footwear, a lot of her list is geared toward women, fashion and shoes. But I think there’s something for all of us in the business, all of us in the human race really, included here. So thank you, Carol, for your astute and generous advice. (Since I’m sure many of you will have thoughts you wish to add, I’ll edit the comments section very carefully so that it only includes possible additions or deletions for Carol’s list.)
Nevah! wear character shoes to sing in, especially the kind with the beginner heel.
Nevah! wear shoes you can’t stand up in or walk in.
Nevah! sing in flip-flops.
Nevah! wear shoes with heels that are not proportionate to your body.
Nevah! wear boots that turn up at the tip unless you’re auditioning for the role of an elf.
Nevah! wear a shoe that goes clip-clop-clip-clop when you walk unless you need your own personal underscoring.
Nevah! wear suede boots with a leather skirt.
Nevah! wear fringe, unless you’re auditioning for “Hair.” (And even then, be very careful.)
Nevah! wear jeans unless they make your butt look great.
Nevah! wear shirts that creep up your midriff unless you really want us to see your belly.
Nevah! walk in the room with the hem on your skirt falling down.
Nevah! wear skirts so tight that they cause wrinkles across the front and make you walk funny.
Nevah! wear a long skirt if you’re a short woman.
Nevah! show us your belly hanging over your pants. Have some dignity.
Nevah! accentuate your bulges by wearing clothes that cling to your bulges.
Nevah! wear your prom dress.
Nevah! wear your prom hair.
Nevah! come in looking completely different from your picture.
Nevah! wear jeans under a dress.
Nevah! try to be black if you’re not black. Please.
Nevah! spend the whole song closing your eyes on the “money notes.”
Nevah! sing parodies.
Nevah! sing medleys.
and finally, a pearl of wisdom so deep and so rich it should be embroidered on every actor’s résumé:
If you’re beige, don’t wear beige.
Ultimately, I boiled all of Carol’s encomia to these three simple dicta:
Dress appropriately based on what you’re auditioning for and what you’re singing.
Your clothes and shoes should enable you to move, walk and stand with a certain amount of fluidity and grace.
And most importantly: Don’t look like a clown unless you’re auditioning for the circus.