Study With the Best in Our Adult Acting Classes

 | Oct 23, 2020
Tom Shelton Class
Teacher Tom Shelton, top row second from left, works with his Musical Theatre students.

All year round, South Coast Repertory’s Theatre Conservatory offers acting classes for adults (as well as kids and teens!). Our online instruction offers a safe and welcoming  environment for students to ​learn and deepen their understanding of the craft of acting, all while developing important life skills. Students may select from various classes including basic and intermediate acting, musical theatre, playwriting, acting for the camera, ​improv and more. All these classes are taught by professional teaching artists who are experts in their craft and in the business of professional theatre. Interested in taking an acting class? Find out more about what we offer. Read all about our stellar faculty below.


Diana Burbano
She is a Colombian immigrant, a playwright, an Equity actor and a teaching artist at South Coast Repertory and Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble. Her plays include Sapience (Latinx Play Festival, San Diego Repertory Theatre, 2020), Ghosts of Bogota (Rella Lossy Award-winner, 2019, under commission with Alter Theatre), Policarpa (Living Room Series, The Blank Theatre, 2018; Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Black Swan Lab, 2017), Fabulous Monsters (Latinx Play Festival, San Diego Repertory Theatre, 2017), Caliban’s Island (Headwaters New Play Festival, 2017) and Linda (English and Spanish), which has been performed around the globe. She is part of Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Latinx Play Project cohort and is in Center Theatre Group’s Writers’ Workshop. She is a member and ambassador of the Dramatists Guild. As an actor, she was most recently seen at SCR as Amalia Morales/ Doña Lola in José Cruz González’s American Mariachi (2019), originated the roles of Holo-1 in of Labors of Hercules (Laguna Playhouse) and Thumb in Imagine and was Ana Guerrero in José Cruz González’s Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy (SCR). She portrayed Viv the punk in the cult musical film The Isle of Lesbos .  Learn more about Burbano in this SCR blog story

Jenna Cole

Jan Cole
Fundamentals of Acting
Intermediate Acting
She is an actor, educator and director who has taught in SCR’s Theatre Conservatory since 2006. Cole appeared most recently at SCR in Christopher Durand’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and in the Theatre for Young Audiences family series show, The Wind in the Willows . She currently teaches acting at Orange County School of the Arts and has also taught at Geva Theatre Center, Pomona College, Chapman University, Point Park University and West Virginia University; her teaching expertise includes voice and speech, beginning and intermediate acting, text analysis, playwriting, acting Shakespeare, acting style, scene study, acting for the camera and advanced directing. As a director, she has helmed productions of As You Like It, Under Milkwood, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, La Ronde, The Beard of Avon, Blithe Spirit, Old Times and The Shape of Things . As a longtime resident artist at A Noise Within, Cole taught Youth Acting, Summer With Shakespeare and Acting Internship programs; she also performed in numerous plays including The Way of the World, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Hay Fever, The Three Sisters, The Seagull, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale, Much Ado About Nothing, Design for Living, A Flea in Her Ear and Tartuffe , as well as A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. She has performed at the Pasadena Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre, Shakespeare Orange County, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Sacramento Theatre Company, Geva Theatre Center, Arizona Theatre Company, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Pittsburgh Playhouse and PlayMakers Repertory Company, among others. On television, she has been seen in shows such as “Picket Fences,” “The George Carlin Show,” “Pros and Cons” and “Her Last Chance,” along with numerous commercials, voiceovers and DVD narration. Cole holds an MFA in acting from the American Conservatory Theater and is a certified associate teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework.

Michael Matthys

Michael Matthys
Advanced Scene Study and Characterization
He has been teaching acting for the past 12 years at institutions including San Diego State University, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Stella Adler Academy and the Actor's Studio of Orange County. He specializes in a hybrid approach of Stanislavski and Meisner, known as Seven Pillars, as well as being a Viewpoints expert and Designated Linklater Teacher. He began his professional career as a member of the Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis, Minn.), straight out of graduate school, and has never looked back. Among the his leading roles on stage are Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Treplev in The Sea Gull, Treves in The Elephant Man, Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard, Alan in Equus, Levin in Anna Karenina and, most recently, Mike Dillon in Good People. On TV, he is most famous for portraying Dr. Kent on "Grey's Anatomy." Other TV appearances include "Buffy," "Save by the Bell: The New Class" and "Profiler."  He has appeared in several feature films including Full Blast, Destiny Turns on the Radio, BASEketball, and Nightwatch and the House of Deadly Secrets (both on Netflix). His latest feature film endeavor, Stan the Man, is slated to be released in 2020; in it, he plays a Russian mob henchman named Dimitri. Check out for more.

Jay Scully

Jay Scully
Acting for the Camera
He spent three months in 2018 coaching the main cast of the feature film SuperFly for Sony Pictures, Joel Silver and Director X in Atlanta. Scully has cast more than 50 feature films and television shows, and worked extensively on set as an acting teacher and coach. Recent coaching work includes Paradise Pictures, a pilot for USA Network, The Fosters (Freeform), as well as features for directors J.J. Abrams (Super 8), Judd Apatow (This Is 40), and James Wan (Furious 7). He has coached a number of Hollywood's top actors privately including Frieda Pinto, Moran Atias, and the late Paul Walker, as well as NBC ​sports ​color ​commentators. As a writer/director he co-created and directed the pilot presentation Big & $ave. His feature script, The Overview Effect, is in development at Bad Robot. Jay received his M.F.A. in Acting from Brandeis University and was a founding cast member of Expanded Arts, a theatre company in New York. Learn more about Scully in this SCR blog story


Tom Shelton
Musical Theatre
He is an award-winning composer/lyricist as well as an acclaimed vocal coach and professional accompanist. Shelton has appeared on many local Southern California stages including South Coast Repertory (The Trip to Bountiful, In the Next Room, A Christmas Carol and many others), Pasadena Playhouse, Musical Theatre West (1776), La Mirada Theatre and Laguna Playhouse, as well as off-Broadway at Manhattan Punch Line. He has written, on commission, half-a-dozen murder-mystery scripts for The Gourmet Detective over its 19-year history. His other works, which include musical adaptations, original plays, screen and radio projects, have been produced and seen nationwide, most notably Caddie Woodlawn, the original musical, and The Boy Who Ruled the Moon and Sun for the San Diego Opera. His other original works include The Man Who Shot the Man Who Shot Jesse James, The Disciples Undoing, Darling, You Slay Me! and a long string of classic fairy tales musically adapted for the Barnsdall Theater in Hollywood. He’s working on the musical Highpockets, with Gary Davis, about World War II heroine Claire Phillips.


Richard Soto
Basic Acting Skills
He is a professional actor, teaching artist, fight director and writer, who journeys where the stories need to be told. Soto has performed in theatres throughout Southern California, including San Diego Rep, The Old Globe, A Noise Within (where he was a resident artist for 16 years, performing in more than 30 productions) and South Coast Repertory, which has been his creative home as an actor, stage manager and instructor for 30 years. His film and television credits include Believers, Firebirds, “The West Wing,” “Third Degree Burn” and “General ​Hospital.” In addition to being a faculty instructor with SCR’s Theatre Conservatory, Soto is an adjunct professor of stage combat at Vanguard University and a member of Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble (Santa Ana). His acting classes are socially active environments where students of all ages and backgrounds engage their creativity, expression and empathy. As a fight director, he has choreographed stage fights around the SoCal region including SCR, Latino Theater Company, Teatro Meta, Los Angeles Theatre Center, American Coast Theater, and Actors Co-op, where he was recognized for his outstanding fight choreography. His written work includes the Latinx superhero comic book, “The Legend of El Lobo”; and plays including The Black Book and Los Invisibles (The Invisible Ones, which address the inhumane treatment of immigrants) for Protest Plays Project’s #TheatreActionImmigration Initiative, and Freedom to Speak, I Leave You Hope, It Ain’t Perfect, and Something Worth Pursuing (for the We the People Theatre Action Program, Sacred Fools Theater Company). He currently is working on projects for theatre, television and film involving his passions of people, art, history, education, comic books and making the world a better place. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors Equity Association.

Winter acting classes for adults get underway beginning Jan. 25, 2021 and run through March 17, 2021. Learn more.