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The best acting classes in NYC

Kick-start your dreams of the theater at the best acting classes in NYC that don't require a grueling audition or hefty tuition

Photograph: Gilli Getz
T. Schreiber Studio

Always yearned to see your name written in lights? It’s time to follow your dreams and enroll in one of the best acting classes in NYC. Even if you can’t afford to quit your day job to attend one of New York's acting schools, there are plenty of part-time classes with flexible schedules and affordable prices. Whether you’re always belting out the best Broadway songs of all time or just want to see whether being called "a character" all your life means you have any actual talent, these workshops for beginners are the perfect place to start. And who knows? Maybe one day you’ll claw your way up the ladder to one of the best Broadway shows on the Great White Way.

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HB Studio

Opened by late acting greats Herbert Berghof and Uta Hagen in 1945, HB's Greenwich Village building is always abuzz with actors, both experienced and aspiring. Though advanced classes with pros like Oscar-winner Mercedes Ruehl and Tony nominee Jessica Hecht are by audition only, all Level 1 offerings—Acting 1, Scene Study 1 and Acting with the Camera 1—are aimed at neophytes or those returning to performing after an absence. Students can sign up by trimester ($445-$645) but if you're on the fence, you can audit one session for $20.

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West Village

Kimball Studio

Founded by acting teacher/TV writer-producer Kelly Kimball, this studio requires all students to start with one of its signature offerings: an On Camera Crash Course or a Ballistics class designed to strengthen preexisting technique through improvisation ($300 for five sessions). Newbies can audit a session for free, and then talk one-on-one with a staff member about whether the studio is the right fit. After completion of the mandatory course, students can opt to join the Intensive Study Program.

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Michael Howard Studios

Opened back in 1953 by Michael Howard, a performer and director who studied with acting legends  Sanford Meisner of Neighborhood Playhouse and Lee Strasberg of the Actor’s Studio, this stalwart school offers a number of full-time conservatory programs (Scandal's Kerry Washington is a graduate). But the studio also hosts weekly scene study classes ($265-$385 per month) and specialized workshops (long-form improv, Shakespeare, voiceovers, comedic characters, acting for TV and film, $345 and up) led by working pros, including some big names (hello, Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis). Note: For most offerings, an interview is required and for some an audition, too.

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T. Schreiber Studio

Interviews and auditions are required at this venerable studio, which was opened in 1969 by Terry Schreiber and counts movie stars Edward Norton and Peter Sarsgaard among its conservatory graduates. Newbies can choose from three beginner classes: Meisner Technique for Beginning Actors ($695 for 12 sessions), On-Camera I ($425 for six sessions) and The Saturday Program ($260 per month) which starts with basic technique and moves on to scene study. The studio also mounts full-fledged productions, too, in case you want to see its students and alumni in action.

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The Barrow Group

Oscar winner Anne Hathaway credits this theater company and school with teaching her how to act. While most of its offerings cater to pros, its 10-week Beginners Acting Class I: The Basics ($495) is open to all, no experience required. Learn fundamental acting techniques that stress spontaneity and natural behavior via exercises, monologues and scene study. The Barrow Group also produces two mainstage shows per season plus monthly readings, so you can see how good the grads are. 

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Hell's Kitchen

Ted Bardy Studio

In addition to advanced training for pros, the Ted Bardy Studio offers a three-phase Beginner Meisner Acting Class ($280 per month) that immerses newcomers in the title technique, which focuses on listening, vulnerability and truthful reactions. Expect lots of exercises (classes start with the famous "Repetition Exercise") as students work their way up to the end of phase 1 with the introduction of "emotional preparation." Definitely not for dabblers! 

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Hell's Kitchen

Henry Street Settlement – Abrons Arts Center

This nonprofit cultural complex is well-known for presenting work by cutting-edge theater artists like puppet master Basil Twist, writer/director Richard Maxwell and solo star Nilaja Sun. But it also offers a wide variety of community arts classes to all ages, including acting. Its five-session Get Real: Acting for Adults class ($150) is perfect for amateurs who want to find out what it's like to get on stage. Students work on core skills like memorizing lines, learning blocking and performing monologues and scenes.

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Lower East Side

The New York Performing Arts Academy

The New York Performing Arts Academy has a proven track record: Its alumni have landed roles on hit TV shows like Orange Is the New Black and Fresh Off the Boat. Unleash your potential in the academy’s four-week foundation course—it covers acting for screen and stage, movement and voice ($200). Though some of the classes here require an audition, the beginner level is open to all.

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Midtown West

Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts

This Off-Broadway not-for-profit theater company is best known for producing works by new playwrights, but it also has an interdisciplinary academy with acting, directing and, yes, writing classes. Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts offers a wide range of introductory courses, but the workshop on the Alexander Technique for Auditions ($320 for six sessions) might be the most useful for beginners. This breathing and movement method enables you to tap into your most confident self to really nail that monologue or song. It’s a must-have skill for any would-be thespian.

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Hell's Kitchen

Actors Connection New York

As its name suggests, Actors Connection helps link performers to agents, producers and casting directors. The focus on networking extends to its classes, too: You’ll find working professionals teaching workshops in their specialty, like voice-over or commercials. Beginners might want to start with the six-session Acting 101 course ($329) to really get a handle on their technique. Plus, once you’ve registered, you’ll be added to the studio’s database and receive alerts whenever a new audition or casting call comes up.

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Hell's Kitchen

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