A Guide to Acting Studios + Theater Groups in Essex County

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To be or not to be, that is the question. We’ve discovered an array of local performing arts studios and playhouses for you to unleash your inner Leo Dicaprio or Salma Hayek. Performing arts classes are also available for kids looking to explore their creative side. Many classes are virtual while some studios have reopened their doors. Continue reading for a guide to local acting studios + theater groups in Essex County.

acting studios theater groups essex county

Essex Youth Theater {14 Alvin Place, Upper Montclair}

Essex Youth Theater has served the Montclair community for over 30 years. The theater focuses on students ages 6-13 with a specialized program that uses custom-written scripts to guarantee equal roles for a specific number of students. The class sizes are kept small, with each child receiving individual attention, and every semester finishes off with full-scale musical production. Each class also incorporates acting exercises, theater games, and improv that help students express their creativity and develop dramatic skills. EYT creates an atmosphere that is supportive and nurturing, with an emphasis on self-esteem and fun learning. All of the theater’s teachers are professional directors specially trained in children’s theater. 

Action Theatre Conservatory {68 Union Avenue, Clifton}

Since opening its doors in 1990, Action Theatre Conservatory’s {or ATC for short} mission has been to provide professional, high-quality training in all facets of the performing arts to the region, respecting each individual’s unique talents, and increase awareness of the arts in the community through low-cost performances and workshops. ATC offers all levels of acting, TV + Film training, improvisation, voice acting, stage combat, and performance opportunities for adults, teens, and children. Classes are also available for directing, filmmaking and playwriting.

Class Act Performing Arts Studios {128 Irvington Avenue, South Orange}

Class Act Performing Art Studios has a wide range of classes available for students including acting and drama, musical theater, and Kids on Broadway to name a few. Musical Theatre Company and Dance Company are CAPAS’ intensive training programs for students ages 8 and up. Students are accepted by audition only. Classes are available for kids starting at 18 months-old to 18 years-old. 

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New Jersey Performing Arts Center for Arts Education {24 Rector Street, Newark}

New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Every year, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center hosts 3,000 classes and workshops. Since its inception in 1997, NJPAC’s goal has been to celebrate diversity through arts and entertainment while inspiring artistic and intellectual growth in both students and teachers. The NJPAC Center for Arts Education allows the community to connect with and nurture their talents through numerous performance classes including hip-hop arts & culture, jazz for teens, act out loud, band together, and more. 

New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts {593 Avenue, Bloomfield}

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at acting or improv, the New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts is the place to get started. Since 2004, NJSDA has offered formal acting, musical theater, improv, and TV + Film training. Students learn in a step-by-step program in which each class builds upon the skills gained in previous levels. From the beginner to the advanced, students are placed in classes that match their experience and ability. Classes are available for people of all ages and NJSDA is currently offering a free Intro to Acting or Intro to Improv class through Zoom.

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Paper Mill Playhouse {22 Brookside Drive, Millburn}

The history of the Paper Mill Playhouse dates back to 1934 when it was officially designated as a repertory theater. Paper Mill Playhouse’s vision is to be internationally recognized as the leading musical theater where new and reimagined musicals and innovative education programs are cultivated. The theater offers classes for people of all ages, a theater camp, and more. Anne Hathaway is said to have attended Paper Mill’s Summer Musical Theater Conservatory, while many other critically-acclaimed performers like Laura Benanti have also graced the theater’s stage. On the website, Paper Mill Playhouse acknowledges that the theater stands on the traditional land of the Lenni-Lenape, and honors the land and the indigenous people who inhabited it for thousands of years before European settlers arrived.

Performers Theater Workshop {131 Millburn Avenue, Millburn}

Established in 1984 by Juilliard graduates Esther and Howard Kravitz, Performers Theatre Workshop was designed to meet every student’s performing needs under one roof. PTW’s mission is to provide the highest caliber of performing arts education to students of all ages and abilities and to foster individual growth in a caring, supportive artistic community. Classes are available for students ages 3 to 18 in all areas of the performing arts. Online classes are currently available for winter sessions including acting, dancing, singing as well as private lessons for guitar, and more.

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Written by:

Yarleen is a proud Jersey girl with Cuban roots. She’s an actor and writer with an affinity for poetry, travel, and fried plantains. Yarleen can usually be found with an Americano in hand, or any caffeinated beverage. When she’s not on stage, enjoying a new hobby {currently learning Krav Maga}, or typing away at her laptop, you can catch her jogging while listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or exploring art galleries and museums in New York City.