Acting Classes

Mary grew up in front of millions as Erin Walton, the middle daughter of the Walton family, and learned the craft of acting “on the job” from some of the best actors in the business.

Mary is an award-winning director, producer and writer with experience in television, film and theater. She has been a SAG/AFTRA/Equity member and a working actress for more than three decades.

As a child performer, Mary learned the ropes from seasoned professionals like Will Geer, Ellen Corby, Richard Thomas, Michael Learned and Ralph Waite. As she grew older, she expanded her interests to theater and studied acting with many different teachers in NY and LA to hone her craft.

Mary started teaching acting to adults originally, and then, realizing the unique gifts from her being a child performer herself, she started working with other child performers and their parents. She served on the Screen Actors Guild Young Performer’s Committee to reach out to educate performers and their parents on growing up in “the industry.”

Award-winning performer brings “Acting for Life” program and workshops to adults and teens providing personalized, professional, hands-on instruction

In today’s world of texting and video games, we have a generation who have lost the value and skills of communication. From saying your name, looking someone in the eye to public speaking. Mary works with her clients to learn and be comfortable with themselves and presenting to audience. . You don’t need to go to Hollywood to realize the value of learning communication skills.

Mary is currently offering individualized instruction to adults and children with her 1 to 1  personal sessions, SKYPE sessions,  programs and workshops. After a 48 year career, McDonough provides unprecedented professional experience, knowledge and hands-on instruction.

Mary was a reoccurring character on the hit sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, McDonough has also been recognized in Hollywood (and beyond) for her award-winning work as a director, producer and writer. An accomplished and successful commercial and stage actor, she’s performed in a wide variety of genres and provides students comprehensive, age-appropriate instruction in Technique, Scene Study, Improvisation, Monologue Mastery, Commercial Audition Preparation/Technique, Character Breakdown and Cold Reading.

For class fees, location, questions, or to schedule an interview with Mary McDonough please E-mail


Mary has a special gift as an acting teacher and shares her incredible wealth of knowledge, teaching from her own personal experience in the entertainment industry, from getting “sides” to getting the job and beyond. Mary has helped her students with auditions, public speaking, media training and performing arts schools admissions.

With Mary’s classes and private coaching, you will learn:

  • Proven cold reading techniques

  • Efficient and effective scene study skills

  • Character breakdown techniques

  • How to audition

  • Monologue selection and performance

  • On-the-set training

  • Skills and techniques for commercials

Within six months after starting his lessons with Mary, my 16 year old son improved so much he started getting callbacks and then lead roles. Mary was able to communicate acting technique so effectively he began receiving nominations for best actor in regional community theater, and then signed with a Hollywood Commercial agency. 


Mary’s recent on-camera credits include appearances on ER, Boston Legal, Will & Grace and The West Wing, among many others, including the Hallmark Channel film Christmas at Cadillac Jack’s. Currently, Mary can be seen as Mrs. Wilhoite on The New Adventures Of Old Christine. She has also worked as an on-camera host and been in numerous commercials.


Isabel (12 years old)

Isabel (12 years old)

Miss Mary is amazing because she has a creative unique way of teaching drama that is easy to understand, fun to learn, and never gets old. She is my favorite teacher. She makes me feel like I'm in a real audition. She makes me feel really good about what I do and she helps me get better.

Larkspur (10 years old)

Larkspur (10 years old)

Miss Mary is really fun, kind, nice, and always smiling. I have never seen her mad. When I am around her, it's hard for me to get frustrated because she does calming things like starfish and yoga poses to bring my mind at peace so I can concentrate on getting better at acting. She helped me be very confident and not to doubt myself. She helps me through things I have trouble with. One of my shows I kept saying the word "nutcracker" wrong. I got frustrated then Miss Mary helped me calm down with exercises to relax me. She addresses bullies by having us imagine them floating in a bubble above going far far away.

Adam Sessa

Adam Sessa

Taking Mary McDonough's class was the best decision that I made when I came to the area. She gave me the confidence and the knowledge that I needed to make an impression at my auditions and at agent interviews. 

Through her teachings and listening to her experiences in the business, I was able to obtain an agent and land major international jobs in a just a matter of weeks while taking her classes. I owe Mary a tremendous amount of gratitude and I couldn't have done it without her.

Within six months after starting his lessons with Mary, my 16 year old son improved so much he started getting callbacks and then lead roles. Mary was able to communicate acting technique so effectively he began receiving nominations for best actor in regional community theater, and then signed with a Hollywood Commercial agency.



Thank you for your help with our Video’s for our website. These Video’s will be seen on the internet, as well as our website. We wanted them to look professional and needed help understanding what would be seen by the camera. I have presented in front of audiences my whole career, but getting in front of the camera was a whole new experience. Your help honing the message, delivering in the right location in the script worked perfectly and was exactly what I needed. My partner and I both felt we would have been lost without the coaching we received from you for these videos.

Thank you again for your guidance and professionalism.

Kind Regards,

Jennifer A. Zaat Hetelle, CFP®

I engaged Mary McDonough to assist me in preparing for a video presentation. I found Mary to be extremely helpful and a key strength to obtaining a video far better than I would have had, if I had completed the video on my own. Mary has a keen ability to capture the scene and she knew the best way to draw out my personality to make the presentation more impactful and real. She gave me special exercises, memory joggers, and numerous ideas as I prepared for the presentation. Mary was great in coaching me and helping draw out of me a ‘real’ presentation as opposed to a more canned presentation. She was wonderful not only in the coaching sessions, but was a great help at the video shoot. Her special talents and beautiful personality and sense of humor helped keep my energy up and guided me to a successful video presentation.

I highly recommend Mary, she has a wonderful talent and is a wonderful down to earth person. I would be happy to talk to anyone wishing to ask additional questions.

Brian S. Seaman, CFP®, ChFC, LUTCF, CFS, AiF®

We just started working with Mary McDonough a few months ago. My daughter thinks she’s great. I agree she is very positive and always focuses on building my  daughter’s self esteem. My daughter’s agent was very complimentary of Mary. Says we are working with the best our area has to offer. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but she just started doing SKYPE sessions. I’m trying to get one of our computers set up so we can try it out.

We first met Mary when my daughter began taking a group acting class with her. Her warmth and enthusiasm, both for acting and for life, immediately had us hooked. Group classes quickly turned into private acting lessons and eventually life coaching sessions to help my daughter work through some of the challenges she was facing as a young teenage girl. Through these acting and life coaching sessions, Mary has played a key role in my daughter’s life. She has helped her more efficiently prepare for auditions, and more importantly, she has been a guide that has helped my daughter navigate the rough waters of teenage life. We are so grateful for all that Mary has done for us, both on a personal and professional level, and feel blessed and excited that we are able to continue working with such a talented and insightful woman.

-Melissa Coffey

My daughter is one of those outgoing, fun-loving kids that loves people. People, we didn’t know, kept telling us we need to get her on TV. As a parent, I had no idea where to begin. I wasn’t even sure my daughter was ready. Then, someone referred me to Mary McDonough. Remember, Erin … The Waltons. Who better to coach my daughter, than someone who has been a child star herself?

Mary is one of the most approachable people I’ve met. My daughter just loves her. She provided me with all sorts of resources and information. She immediately began working with my daughter on eye contact and teaching her what to expect during an audition. Within a few shorts weeks, we had the tools we needed to begin submitting. We eventually signed with well-respected agent – who, by the way told us in reference to Mary, we’re working with the best our area has to offer. It is going to be an exciting journey and we are so glad to know Mary will be there with us, coaching us along the way. 

Mary is such a wonderful acting teacher. I have learned so much from her, she has taught me to focus in and do these very relaxing breathing exercises. She has also helped me get roles. She helped me on my monologue to audition for OCHSA (orange county high school of the arts)! And, I got in to Music and Theater. Also, she is very fun to do acting with and I always have such a wonderful fun time with her. She is also very nice and helpful and loving. I don't know how good of an actress I would be without her. She is such a wonderful teacher!"

Becky Golden

Claire Brueckner

Claire Brueckner

I have been in and out of acting classes for a couple of years, each with it's own technique and dogma. I came to Mary to work one on one in hopes of improving my auditioning skills and overall presence. I realized, after 1 session with her, that my past teachers had over complicated acting and it wasn't in fact all that hard. Mary was able to simplify the process into something manageable, fun and effective. I feel so much more confident and comfortable with a script in hand than I did in any of my past classes. Thank you so much Mary for helping me find the fun in acting again!!

Mary is the only answer to preparing your child for any audition and to succeed in being cast. Mary's vast expertise, patience, coordination, strategies, organization, and unique knowledge of acting ensures that your child's goals can be realized. Moreover, Mary combines these qualities with a deep caring and support which will further empower your child and allow your child to have fun while they are learning and progressing and meeting their goals.

She has helped my daughter Becky successfully prepare for numerous auditions and in all cases Becky has received the part she was seeking. Mary's strategies and practice tips have honed and enhanced Becky's skills and presentation significantly. Mary is a must for auditions and for developing a character once a part is obtained. Mary will take her students to new levels!

I highly recommend Mary for anyone interested!!

Jeff Golden

I have known Mary McDonough for many years and have worked with her in many different capacities. Of course, as an actress, I have hired her and watch her since she was a child. As a writer, producer and director, I have had the joy of working with her on several projects. She is enormously talented and highly energetic about her craft and about sharing it with others. She is a great communicator and certainly a great teacher.

Her knowledge of all areas of the entertainment industry and her years of experience make her a highly sought after teacher, coach and mentor. I would recommend her classes to anyone who truly interested in a long term career in the entertainment industry.

Megan Foley, Casting Director

After working with Mary, I automatically felt more confident in the choices I made, which led me to booking the first audition I had after we worked together!

Maddie Levy

Nurturing the talented performer requires more than technique.Experience and Sensitivity, plus the ability to encourage the growth of character, are vital to the learning process. Mary McDonough's 35-year resume' reveals all of the critical elements needed in the teaching process. I know Mary to be a thorough professional, and her practical experience guarantees much more than technique.

Paul Petersen

Both of my daughters, Brooke and Chelsey grew so much working with Mary. They now understand the process of casting calls and interviews! They also understand better the pitfalls of the business. Mary has worked with them one on one to give them the confidence to nail the casting calls and own the room. Thank you Mary, We love you. You will forever be a part of our lives!