Theatre School of WNY

It’s the place to become an actor!

“a highly respected, highly sought-after theatrical resource for anyone looking to hone their acting skills.” –Buffalo Rising

Theatre School of WNY has acting classes and year-round continuing training for adults and high schoolers who are serious about theatre, film and tv. 

Our instructors are working actors with major NYC and LA stage, film and tv credits. Most are members of Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA, the professional unions of actors and stage managers. We are Buffalo’s premiere actor training program with classes for all levels.

Online classes meet on Zoom, free software you might already have. You’ll need a good internet connection and a computer with a camera and microphone built-in. While you can join us on your phone or tablet, the best experience for everyone is with a laptop or desktop. Let us know if you have any questions. See you there!

Online Classes: Registration Now Open for Adults 16+

On Camera Audition Basics Register Now
Instructor: Josie DiVincenzo
Tuesday nights 7-8pm EST
June 16, 23, 30, and July 7

For anyone looking to perform on film or television… or zoom… Josie’s got you covered. Learn the basics of getting in front of the camera, and breaking down a script to make your audition soar. For adults 16+

Introduction to Voiceover Register Now
Instructor: Maria Pendolino
Thursday nights 7-8pm EST
June 11, 18, 25, and July 2 — SOLD OUT

Have you always been told you have a good voice? Do you enjoy creating characters and voices? Are you the kind of person that actually watches the commercials instead of fast forwarding through them? Join professional voiceover actor, Maria Pendolino, for an introductory look at the world of voiceover. Maria will talk about the different genres that exist in voiceover performing, explain the process from demos, auditions through production and talk about what it takes to be a working voice talent. Participants will have the opportunity to read copy from commercials, television narration, telephone systems and animation as performance exercises. For adults 16+

Introduction to Playwriting Register Now
Instructor: Bella Poynton
Wednesday nights 7-8pm EST
June 10, 17, 24, and July 1

Always wanted to write a play? Have a fantastic story idea, but unsure how to begin? Plays just don’t fall out of the sky. A playwright spends many hours crafting and constructing their plays… but here is the secret: anyone can be a playwright and it’s time to get YOUR ideas on paper.

Explore play structure and get your feet wet with practical exercises on brainstorming techniques, outlining, character development, writing into conflict, creating moments of dramatic tension, and how to craft that killer ending. This course will help you work toward starting (and finishing!) your own 10-minute play. For adults 16+

Acting is Truth Telling Register Now
Instructor: Chris J Handley
Monday nights 7-8pm EST
June 15, 22, 29, July 6

Actors of all levels of experience are welcome to join this class, since the focus will be on something we can all continue working at: truthful expression. An actor isn’t just “pretending” to be someone or “faking it.” Great actors tell the truth. In this class, we’ll explore some simple, practical techniques to make your acting more truthful. Short monologue required. For adults 16+

TV & Film On-Camera Acting Intensives Register Now
Instructor: Josie DiVincenzo
Saturdays 11am-1pm EST

Session 1: Film and TV Audition Techniques
Get a taste of what to expect in the casting office, self tapes, how to work with the camera and reader, decoding sides, and more. This is a practical class where everyone will get up and work, getting comments and advice from Josie. For adults 16+

Session 2: Business of the Biz: Set Life
What happens once you get the role? Josie talks about what to expect and how to navigate on set… she’ll discuss agents/representation, headshots vs portraits, how to create a professional resume, demo reel, Q&A, and more. For adults 16+

Broadway Masterclass

Register Now
with Maddie Shea Baldwin (Broadway’s BRIGHT STAR)
Friday, June 19. 3-5pm EST

Join Theatre School of WNY and Broadway’s Maddie Shea Baldwin for this special musical theatre workshop! Maddie will work with each student one-on-one on audition technique and song interpretation in this special online master class. Recommended for high school and college students.

Maddie Shea Baldwin is a New York City based performer, originally from San Diego, California. After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre at Indiana University, she made her New York City theatre debut as an original cast member of Steve Martin & Edie Brickell’s Broadway show, Bright Star. She then went on to play Margo Crawford in the 1st National Tour of Bright Star. Some of her other favorite credits include: Maria in The Sound of Music at Asolo Repertory Theatre, Penny in Bebe Winan’s Broadway bound musical Born For This at the Cutler Majestic Theatre (Arts Emerson), Bright Star at the Kennedy Center, Back Home Again at the Lesher Center, Ace and How the Grinch Stole… at The Old Globe Theatre. Some of her favorite New York theatre workshop credits include: James Lapine’s Flying Over Sunset at Playwrights Horizons, TRIAL at the Vineyard Theatre, and Priscilla Presley in StageWorks Production’s Elivs: The Musical. New York credits include: Ladyship and A Wall Apart (NYMF) and Emergency (Summerfest). Besides performing Maddie Shea is a full time cat mom to her cat Zuzu and travels to the West Coast as much as possible to be with her family. Jeremiah 29:11.

Online Classes: Registration Now Open for Teens

Teen Character Stories Register Now
Instructor: Karen McDonald
Monday afternoons 3-4pm EST
June 15, 22, 29, July 6

It’s showtime! Students will work on two of the most important parts of acting: storytelling and character. In just four weeks, Karen will guide you through the basics of how to create a character and tell their story. No prior experience needed! The final projects will be filmed and presented! For students in grades 8-12.

Advanced Teen Devising Register Now
Instructor: Karen McDonald
Tuesday afternoons 3-4pm EST
June 16, 23, 30, July 7

Combining devised theatre and zoom-technology, Karen will guide students through a four week theatre-making project. For students who have studied with us before, this course faces our current situation head-on, creating compelling characters, and telling the stories of what’s happening right now. The final projects will be filmed and presented! For students grades 9-12.


In-Person Classes: Registration Currently Closed


Work musical theatre solo songs one-on-one and bring your performance to life. Explore song interpretation and learn to act while you sing to make each moment alone onstage completely believable. Choose any musical theatre song. For any high school student.


Spend two days in a workshop environment to hone your performance skills. Mornings will be spent on technique (physical, vocal, acting) and afternoon masterclasses will be spent coaching your scenes, songs, and monologues! Detailed information will be sent to participants in avance in order to prepare. Limited amount of spaces available, open to all high school students.

Instructor: Todd Benzin

Acting is about following your impulses. What better way to learn than through our foundation level course for all students in grades 9-12. Using games and exercises, this class guides you through the basic skills needed to be an actor. And it all starts with your imagination. No experience necessary.

Instructor: Karen McDonald

This class builds on the skills developed in Foundations 1 & 2 and Intermediate 1. Students will explore character, scene work, and physical and vocal technique. For students in grades 9-12 who have previously studied with us, or with prior acting experience.


Spend five days learning acting, voice, and movement techniques essential to the actor’s craft. Then, in the afternoons, develop and rehearse your own showcase of scenes and monologues specifically developed for you! Includes a special stage combat masterclass event.

Instructor: Don Gervasi

Jump into the world of acting. Newbies and pros alike will explore games and basic exercises in this fun, hands-on improv-based approach taught by local improv hero, professional actor and member of Actors’ Equity Association Don Gervasi. Discover how to think on your feet and learn why improvisation is vital to any actor’s toolbox of skills. For real, for fun, or just to get out of the house! No experience necessary!

Instructor: Karen McDonald

Discover the actor’s process using simple exercises from Uta Hagen, one of the great acting teachers of the 20th Century. Acting is not just about playing pretend — it’s learning how to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances. This class will help you figure out what that really means, taught by professional actress and member of Actors’ Equity Association Karen McDonald, who toured internationally with 42nd Street.

Instructor: Darryl Semira

It’s time to get to work. Students in our level 3 class move to the next level as you explore basic scenes in this course. Get answers to that age-old question, “What’s my motivation?!” This class is taught by by professional actor and member of Actors’ Equity Association Darryl Semira, who appeared on Broadway in Mamma Mia! and Bombay Dreams.

Instructor: Bella Poynton

Everyone has a story to tell, bursting at the seams, or hiding way down deep, and since Alleyway is Buffalo’s home for new plays and new playwrights, it’s the perfect place to do it yourself! Local playwright Bella Poynton will help you figure out what your story is and how to tell it effectively for the stage. This class is for beginning writers, and even those who have never put pen to paper before! No experience necessary. For anyone ages 16+

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Ongoing. Begin anytime!

Work one-on-one with Alleyway Associate Artistic Director Chris J Handley to prepare for your college auditions. The process is individualized and specific to the needs to each student, as you rehearse monologues and/or songs, create a resume, and discuss the audition process. Just this year, our students have been accepted into theatre programs at American Music and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), Catholic University, Hofstra University, Nazareth College, Niagara University, SUNY Fredonia, and the University of Tampa. For high school juniors and seniors serious about auditioning for college theatre programs.

Available in packages of six sessions to begin. Additional sessions may be added!

Then contact Chris to arrange a schedule!

All payments are final and there are no refunds for missed classes. Discounts cannot be applied retroactively. Courses, faculty, and schedules are subject to change.