​Kids and Teen Acting Instructors

Hisa Takakuwa

Hisa Takakuwa (Conservatory and Educational Programs Director) is a classically trained actor, director and educator. She has worked at many theatrical institutions around the country including the Sundance Children’s Theatre, The Music Center on Tour and the Indiana Repertory Theatre. At SCR, she appeared in The Man Who Came to Dinner and in ​14 seasons of A Christmas Carol and Education Touring Productions. She is the director of SCR’s Theatre Conservatory and has directed past Players productions of Metamorphoses, Hard Times, Cinderella, Mansfield Park, Into the Woods, Snow Angel, Seussical, Annie, Bliss, Peter Pan, David Copperfield and Mary Poppins. While a longtime resident artist at the classical repertory company A Noise Within, she appeared in many productions including The Triumph of Love, The Comedy of Errors, The Misanthrope, Another Part of the Forest, The Seagull and Our Town. She directed Henry V, Twelfth Night and Shooting Stars at the Actors Co-op theatre in Hollywood. She holds a BA from Smith College and an MFA in acting from the California Institute of the Arts.

Joe Alanes

Joe Alanes has been involved in South Coast Repertory for 15 years, as instructor in the Kids and Teen Programs; director of the Junior Players (The Jungle Book, Riding the Wind: Story Plays from Old China and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court); actor (Educational Touring Shows My Mom’s Dad, Badwater Blues and Power Play and Theatre for Young Audiences production of The Emperor’s New Clothes). He currently is ​director of theatre arts at Mater Dei High School, where ​he has been involved in productions, competitions and festivals and directed plays including Little Shop of Horrors and All Shook Up. He is co-artistic director of Modjeska Playhouse in Lake Forest, where he has directed The 39 Steps, First Night, The Odd Couple, and the Theatre for Young Audiences shows Blue the Book-Loving Buccaneer and The Frog Prince. Alanes directed and acted in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged along with his fellow co-artistic directors, Josh Stecker and Chris Sullivan. Previously, he was a director and program supervisor for Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre, where ​ he managed and directed the Drummin’ Up Peace program​ and the middle school program, Someone Like Me, among others. ​Alanes has toured the country with children’s theatre as an actor with Magic School Bus Live and as a stage manager and company manager for Wimzie’s House Live. He has appeared in productions from San Diego to New York City, with his favorite role being Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. He is a member of the California Educational Theatre Association and a graduate of UCLA with a BA in ​theatre.

BurbanoDiana Burbano has been a working actress since the age of 12. She was born in Colombia and came to this country as a young child. Acting gave her the ability to communicate in her new language, while fostering a love for the power of language. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, The Professional Actors Conservatory and the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain.She has been in or directed many theatre productions, and has been seen locally at South Coast Repertory and the Laguna Playhouse. She acts in both English and Spanish, has been on TV and in film, produces, writes and teaches, while being a literary agent for her husband. Her passions are Shakespeare, Chekov and Punk Rock.

Estella Garcia

Estela Garcia is a multi-disciplinary artist ​who specializes in physical performance styles such as mask, movement and puppetry, whether she is acting, writing and/or directing. She received her BA from UCLA in Chicana/o ​studies and her MFA for ensemble-based physical theatre from Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre. She also has studied mask movement and sculpture in Mexico with El Laboratorio de las Mascaras. She has collaborated with Rogue Artists Ensemble on many of its award-winning shows as creator, act​or, assistant director, movement coach and teacher including Hyperbole: Origins, which was nominated for Production of the Year by the LA Weekly Awards. She has been a teaching artist for South Coast Repertory's Theatre Conservatory since 2013 and worked on SCR's Dialogue/Dialogos project​. She currently teaches for VoxBox Arts Collective’s Spanish Immersion Arts program, Center Theatre Group and The Pasadena Playhouse. She has been a guest teacher at UCI, Cal State LA, Cal State Northridge, Cal State San Bernardino, Chapman University, University of LaVerne and was a lead teaching artist for Cirque at the Playhouse, a circus arts program for kids and adults at The Pasadena Playhouse. Garcia is in development for her play Remedios Varo: La Alquimista, which she wrote as part of L.A.’s Latino Theatre Alliance’s eight-month Writers Circle that had a reading at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. She is the community liaison for the “Community as Creators” program hosted by Center Theatre Group in collaboration with El Teatro Campesino, working with the community of Boyle Heights.

Sara Guerrero

Sara Guerrero is the founding ​artistic ​director of the award​-winning, Santa Ana-based Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble (breathoffire.org) where she was named "Best [Artistic] Director" by OC Weekly. She is a founding member of Latina performance group, Slip of the Tongue and an active member of The Latino Theater Alliance​, working to update the Latina/o narrative in American theatre. ​Guerrero is a versatile actor, writer, producer, director, teacher and theatre arts advocate. She has been a guest artist, faculty member, lecturer and panelist to many schools, programs, organizations, committees and universities focused on creating theatre with, by and for underserved communities. She served as the community engagement director ​for SCR’s Dialogue/Diálogos Project (two​-year community theatre​-making project) and was producing associate to the project’s production, El Largo Camino de Hoy / The Long Road Today by José Cruz González. She has been the associate artistic director for Teatro Indigena, arts project coordinator of the Orange County Arts Council, ​resident playwright and theatre arts faculty member for Upward Bound of Cal State University​, Long Beach, ​resident playwright for the Education Outreach Program for Los Angeles County, and ​teaching artist to Community Arts Partnership's (CAP) Plaza de La Raza Theater Program and social justice theatre company, Fringe Benefits.

Melodie Henderson

Melodie Henderson Magouirk has taught 3rd-4th graders and 7-8th graders at SCR for more than ​10 years. With an MFA from Cal State Fullerton, Magouirk is a classically trained act​or who has worked in stage and television, and she also is a professional writer. In 2009, she was nationally recognized as a director by the American Association of Community Theatres, and spent seven years on the board of Chino Community Children’s Theatre. She loves teaching the youngest actors the many ways in which they can express themselves and tell a story, and for the older actors, character development is the order of business. She also is a mother of four, and a nurturing classroom environment is her priority.

Kristina Leach

Kristina Leach has been working in the theatre professionally for 15 years. As an instructor at SCR, she​ has taught in both the ​kids, teens and adult Theatre Conservatory ​programs. As a member of SCR's ​Artistic team, she was literary associate and served as a coordinator for the Pacific Playwrights Festival. She loves plays. She loves to write them, read them, but mostly​— talk about them. An alumna of Cal State Fullerton, she is a writer, actor and director. She is an award-winning playwright whose plays have been produced in New York and Los Angeles, as well as in the U.K. ​Her other interests include her kid, her husband and their grumpy dog, Murray.

Deb Marley

Deb Marley began teaching theatre professionally when she was only 16. Since then, this Orange County native has worked at South Coast Repertory, Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. She has worked as a show director and choreographer at Disneyland and is a founding member of the American Coast Theater Company. Besides her work at SCR, ​Marley has taught at high schools and colleges around Southern California. Her acting credits include Viola in Twelfth Night, Helena in Midsummer Night's Dream, Raina in Arms and the Man, Sabina in Skin of Our Teeth, and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. ​She currently is working on a book about teaching and directing Shakespeare.

Erin McNally

Erin McNally is an accomplished actor, vocalist and educator. She has been inspiring young actors at SCR for more than ​12 years, including musical direction for the last nine Summer Players shows and the creation of musical theatre classes for the advanced teen students and Summer Acting Workshop. Armed with a BA in acting and musical theatre form CSU Fullerton, ​McNally has been a guest artist at the Hollywood Bowl for 13 years and has performed with such greats as Patti LuPone and Kristen Chenoweth. She has worked at the Pasadena Playhouse, Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the Honda Center and was the headliner for many Concert Under the Stars for CSUF. Her favorite roles have included Little Red in Into the Woods, Amy in Company and Rona in Spelling Bee. Her concert and cabaret credits are extensive, including two sold​-out solo concerts this season at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. When she is not performing, ​McNally also shares her passion for acting and voice with students at Tri-School Theatre, St. Juliana School and Disneyland, where she is a teaching artist for Disney Performing Arts.

SotoRichard Soto is an actor, teacher, artist and writer​ who grew up in Tucson, Ariz., worked as a stuntman at Old Tucson and received his degree in ​acting/​directing from the University of Arizona. He continued his training at The Old Globe in San Diego, and was a 16-year resident artist at A Noise Within. He has performed at San Diego Repertory, The Old Globe and The Odyssey, among others, and has a 22 year relationship with South Coast Repertory as a performer, stage maanger and teacher. Some of his film and television credits include Believers, Firebirds (with Nicolas Cage), "The West Wing," Third Degree Burn (with Virginia Madsen and Treat Williams), "General Hospital" and "Days of Our Lives," as well as numerous web series and commercials. Soto currently is developing The Legend of El Lobo, a comic book feature film franchise, as well as several other projects involving his passions: theatre, art, film, education and people. 

SullivanChristopher Sullivan is an actor, improvisor and educator. Over the last 20 years, he has performed in improvisational theatre, street performance, clown theatre, puppetry and traditional stage work. He was a company member of Los Angeles Theatersports and Impro Theatre and is a founding artist of Modjeska Playhouse, where he serves as one of three artistic directors and has performed in numerous plays. He wrote, directed and performed in his one-man clown show, A Fool for You. Sullivan has appeared in numerous commercials and in the film Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl. A graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and SCR’s Acting Intensive Program, he has taught improvisation in SCR’s Theatre Conservatory for seven years and at other theatres, high schools and corporations (improv as a team building tool).

Mercy Vasquez

Mercy Vasquez is an actor, playwright and theatre instructor. In 2014, she had the pleasure of being ​assistant ​director on the critically acclaimed production of The Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy. Her directorial work was recognized by the California Educational Theatrical Association in 2013, when her production of Our Town at Newport Harbor High School won the title of Best Play in Orange County. A strong believer in building community through theat​re, she has participated in SCR's community outreach by teaching classes through its Neighborhood Conservatory program. She taught and worked with other community and charitable organizations such as Voices Unheard Educational Outreach, Virginia Avenue Theatre Project, Cornerstone Theatre Company, NOHO Theatre Company, Tayer Theatre Company and the St. Francis Center.