The short answer is, it depends. It depends on where you study, what you study, and how much you pay.
Since mid-March 2020, when it became very clear that the Covid-19 Pandemic was not going away any time soon, many businesses, including education services, have had to adapt and become creative on many levels in order to remain beneficial and viable.
The studio made this change very quickly and with wonderful results. Like most online acting classes, the platform we use is Zoom, and while not a perfect solution, it is definitely better than nothing.
The most notable differences are the lack of movement, blocking, use of props and diminished intimacy. What I have observed in the four months since making this shift, is that actors have been able to strengthen their video-audition skills. It is a challenge to know exactly where to look and to be able to bring the required emotional life to a character when looking at a computer monitor or a cell phone. In this regard, the online format has benefitted many actors.
There are a number acting schools which have moved their classes to an online format. The classes that I think are of most value to a beginner actor are the classes that teach audition technique skills, improvisation, and cold reading.
In terms of ongoing scene study and character analysis, and basic acting, there are numerous techniques for actors to try and use. I am a firm believer in finding one that works for you and sticking with it. The reason for this is that I have seen too many actors try to combine techniques and it is often ineffective. I think the reason for this is that it is just too overwhelming to have to think and implement so many tools especially when some of the tools conflict with others.
In addition, I think it can be extremely advantageous to work with a master coach who is familiar with you, whom you trust, in an environment that will not only encourage, but allow for your greatest potential. This can often take years.
With all of the above being considered, online classes are definitely worth it assuming they are not overpriced. While not as fulfilling as being in a studio class, if the curriculum is solid and the coaches are good, an actor can benefit greatly. It’s like any fitness program. An actual gym allows for more equipment and the energy and encouragement of other people in training but, if it is not feasible to be in an actual gym, online training is not only readily available but absolutely necessary for one to stay in top shape. The more one practices anything, the better they will become.
Lastly, I’m not sure what other schools have done but given the downturn in the economy and the lack of the actual studio experience, TBell Actors Studio has lowered its price for online classes and thus, they are definitely worth it.