Safe and Welcoming Learning for Kids & Teens

SCR Staff
 | Oct 28, 2020
Musical Theatre Class
Teacher​ Erin McNally, top row center, and accompanist Robert Nafarrete, lower right corner, work with Musical Theatre students.

Our brand of learning in the Theatre Conservatory is informative and fun! In a safe and welcoming environment, students learn about the craft of acting and develop important life skills.

SCR’s curriculum is progressive, meaning that each year, students build upon what they learned in the session before. And ,once students have had a little acting experience—or by audition—they’ll also be able to choose from specialty classes including musical theatre, improvisation and ensemble work. Our faculty is made up of professional teaching artists who are experts in their craft and in the business of professional theatre.

New students are welcome in Fall, Winter and Summer; Spring classes are for returning students only.

Read below about our stellar faculty.

Joe Alanes

Joe Alanes
Year III: Teen Ensemble, Grades 5-7
He 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); was an actor (Educational Touring Shows My Mom’s Dad, Badwater Blues and Power Play and in the Theatre for Young Audiences family series production of The Emperor’s New Clothes). Alanes 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 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 as an actor with Magic School Bus Live (children's theatre) 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.

Jenna Cole

Jan Cole
Year I: Exploration, Grades 4-5
Year II: Development, Grades 4-6
Year III: Teen Ensemble, Grades 8-12
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 Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and in the Theatre for Young Audiences family series show, The Wind in the Willows . She teaches acting at Orange County School of the Arts and has 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.

Estella Garcia

Estella Garcia
Year I: Exploration, Grades 6-8
Year II: Development, Grades 4-6
Year III: Truth in Acting, Grades 9-12

She 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. Garcia 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 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, actor, 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/Diálogos project. She teaches for VoxBox Arts Collective’s Spanish Immersion Arts program, Center Theatre Group and Pasadena Playhouse. She has been a guest teacher at the University of California, Irvine, Cal State LA, Cal State Northridge, Cal State San Bernardino, Chapman University and the University of LaVerne​. ​She was a lead teaching artist for Cirque at the Playhouse, a circus arts program for kids and adults at Pasadena Playhouse. Garcia is in development for her play Remedios Varo: La Alquimista, which she wrote as part of the Los Angeles-based 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.

Erin McNally

Erin McNally
Year III: Musical Theatre, Grades 6-8
Year III: Musical Theatre, Grades 8-12
Year III: Advanced Musical Theatre, Grades 9-12
Taught with accompanist Robert Nafarrete
She 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 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. Learn more about her.

Jasmine O'Hea

Jasmine O’Hea
Year I: Exploration, Grades 4-6

She is an alumna of South Coast Repertory’s Theatre Conservatory and has served as production assistant and assistant music director for multiple SCR student productions. As an actor, she has performed in nontraditional settings including correctional facilities and a Smithsonian affiliate, where she was a costumed historical interpreter. O'Shea has taught at Christian Youth Theater, the Young Singers of Orange County and the Newport Mesa Unified School District. She graduated from Wheaton College (Ill.), with a degree in communication and theatre.


Richard Soto
Year I: Exploration, Grades 5-6
Year III: Truth in Acting, Grades 7-9
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.


Christopher Sullivan
Year III: Truth in Acting, Grades 7-9
Year III: Teen Improvisation/Sketch Comedy, Grades 8-12
He is an actor, improviser and educator. He has worked in improvisational theatre, street performance, clown theatre, puppetry and traditional stage work. Sullivan is a founding artist of Modjeska Playhouse, where he serves as co-artistic director. He is also director of Modjeska Unscripted Theater, where he and a resident cast create and perform improvised plays in several genres as part of Modjeska Playhouse's Main Stage season. His numerous film and television credits include Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. ​He is a former company member of Los Angeles Theatersports and several resident theat​re companies. A graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and SCR’s Acting Intensive Program, he has ​been teaching improvisation and acting in SCR’s Theatre Conservatory since 2007 and is currently a teaching artist at Orange County School of the Arts, where he teaches ​improvisation. Learn more about him.

Hisa Takakuwa

Hisa Takakuwa
Teen Players (by audition only)
She is the Theatre Conservatory director and heads up all education programs at South Coast Repertory. Takakuwa 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 has directed many past Players* productions ​including Metamorphoses, Hard Times, Cinderella, Mansfield Park, two productions of 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. She received an honorable mention by the Tony Award's Excellence in Theatre Education Awards and the California Educational Theatre Association's Professional Artist Award in 2019.

Mercy Vasquez

Mercy Vasquez
Year III: Advanced Training, Teen Ensemble
Junior Players (by audition only)
She is an actor, playwright and theatre instructor. In 2014, she had the pleasure of being ​assistant ​director on ​SCR's 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.

Learn more about acting classes for kids and teens.