Center Stage Performing Arts Academy

"Step into the Light"

Charity Van Gameren

Academy Owner, Musical Theatre, Voice and Theory Instructor

Charity Van Gameren has been strongly rooted in the performing arts industry in the Okanagan since 1992 as a teacher, director and performer.  Charity has her degree in vocal performance through the Royal Conservatory of Toronto and is a registered music teacher of British Columbia.

  Charity's vocal training spans every genre including classical, opera, musical theatre, jazz and pop. Along with being formally trained, Charity has a life time of experience in song writing and music composition.

  Charity along with running a large vocal studio is the founder and director of the acclaimed musical theatre company,Lights of Broadway, one of the longest running musical theatre programs in the Okanagan. Charity's love for musical theatre and Lights of Broadway has given her the drive to bring a full length Broadway show to the Performing Arts Centre stage each spring since 2000.  Some of this company's accalimed shows include performances of The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor  Dreamcoat, Hairspray, Footloose and Shrek  just to name a few. 

  Charity's musical programs have grown to capacity and she is very excited to allow for expansion in the performing arts by introducing and directing operations of Center Stage Performing Arts Academy.

  Charity was born in southern California and graduated in the U.S.A but followed her heart back to the Okanagan where she is married, has raised her children and where she has dedicated her career to developing the performing arts in a place of natural and cultural beauty. 


Nevada Christensen

Acting Instructor

Nevada holds both Associates and Licentiate Diplomas from Trinity College London in Speech and Drama, both of which she received distinction recognition at her education level. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts with a Combined Major in English and Cultural Studies from the University of British Columbia.

Her most notable of accomplishments as an actor has been training at Rose Bruford College's Acting Summer School in London, England, in 2015 as well as Vernon's School of Speech and Drama from 2011-2017.

A highlight of Nevada's performance career was the role of Vi Moore in Footloose The Musical with Lights of Broadway and has adored being a senior member of Lights of Broadway since 2014.

Nevada hopes to build her students confidence on and off of the stage and to help them grow into their full potential.

Cherise McInnis

Dance Instructor and Choreographer 

Cherise McInnis is an Okanagan girl who began dancing at the age of 4 with Backstage Dance Company.  Cherise's first love is tap dance but following her wise mother's instruction has trained in all disciplines of dance including Royal Academy of Dance Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Musical Theatre, lyrical, Hip Hop and Tap.

  Cherise along with years of intensive dance training and performing has been teaching for the past 16 years.  Cherise teaches all disciplines of dance as well as being an accomplished choreographer.

  Cherise's students have competed across the province in Kiwanis festivals, Shine, Vibe and the Great Canadian Dance Challenge and have received honors for their work.

  Cherise is a strong supporter of the local performing arts and has been actively involved in choreography for Powerhouse Theatre, 27th Street Theatre Company and most recently has become the resident choreographer for Lights of Broadway.

  Cherise is thrilled to be part of Center Stage Academy and intends to "dance herself silly" and take others along for the exciting ride!

Jenae Van Gameren

Voice, Musical Theatre and Summer Camp Instructor

Jenae Van Gameren completed her degree in Vocal Performance with the Royal Conservatory of Toronto in 2016.  She has studied and trained vocally for 14 years.  Along with finishing her voice degree, Jenae has been teaching private voice for ten years.  Jenae has been a provincial delegate for voice on three different occasions as well as a silver medalist for the Royal Conservatory of Toronto in her voice exams

  Jenae has been active in musical theatre with Lights of Broadway and competitively for 18 years.  To her credits she has had the roles of Leisl in the Sound of Music, the lead role in Thoroughly Modern Millie ,Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz and Amber Von Tussle in Hairspray.  Jenae was assistant to the director of all of the younger musical theatre programs in Van Gameren Studios for  6 years and has been doing choreography in the theatre programs for that length of time and onward.

  Jenae is a versatile performer and teacher.  Her years in vocal study and theatre have allowed for her to be proficient in teaching classical, musical theatre and pop and more!

  Jenae is very pleased and honored to be a part of Center Stage Performing Arts Academy and looks forward to bringing her knowledge, training and performance skill to the studio in the vocal, musical theatre and summer camp department department.

Sara Mori Jones

Acting Instructor and Assistant Director for Lights of Broadway

Sarah Mori Jones is a teacher, director, and performer of theatre and speech arts.  She began her training in her hometown at the Vernon School of Speech and Drama in 1992.  Sarah then moved to Vancouver and toured with the Vancouver Youth Theatre.  From there she attended Simon Fraser University at the School for the Contemporary Arts and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Theatre) in 1998.  During which time she performed as much as possible and discovered her love for directing.

The Bolton Academy of Spoken Arts in Vancouver returned her back to her speech arts roots where she taught until 2004.  There she taught drama, speech arts and public speaking skills to students of all ages with the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) and Trinity College of London curriculum.  Sarah has received her Royal Conservatory of Music Performer’s ARCT in Speech and Drama.

Since moving back to Vernon in 2004, Sarah has been performing, adjudicating festivals and private coaching while raising three children with her husband, Jonathan Jones.  Most recently, she has been the acting coach for Lights of Broadway.

 Sarah looks forward to passing on the amazing life skills that speech and drama offer with Center Stage Performing Arts Academy.

Matt McDowell

Guitar Instructor

Matt McDowell has been playing guitar and bass for over 30 years.  Originally from California, Matt moved to Vernon ten years ago and began teaching guitar, bass, and a even a little banjo (on the side).


Matt has been in bands and duos that have played in clubs all over Los Angeles and has released two self-produced albums.  Matt plays a variety of instruments but his first love is the guitar.  He’s trained with renowned teachers thoughout the years and loves to constantly improve his technique and learn new songs.  He brings this love to his students and believes that music, above all, should be fun!


An avid golfer, swimmer, tennis player, cyclist, kayaker and movie watcher, Matt feels that music is vital to a balanced, joyful life that can elevate the performer and listener like  no  other art form.


In addition to guitar, Matt teaches filmmaking at the Center for Arts and Technology in Kelowna and has a MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and a BA in Motion Pictures/Television from UCLA.  He lives in Coldstream with his lovely wife, two fantastic children, one great dog, and two angry cats.

Welcome to Center Stage Matt!