MEET OUR CREATIVE TEAM
Prior to ACT-1, Chera performed professionally as an actress, dancer and singer in Theatre and in Television for over twenty years. National Broadway Tour credits include STARLIGHT EXPRESS (as Joule and Buffy) and Val in A CHORUS LINE, as well as many regional theatre, television and music video credits. Television producing credits include The Home and Family Show and Family Challenge. Chera was nominated in 2019 for a Valley Theatre Award for "Best Children's Theatre Director."
Chera was married in 1996 and had two beautiful children. She created the Performing Arts Program and the Talent Show Program at Lanai Road Elementary School in Encino, and did that for four years. It was in 2009 that Academy for Children’s Theatre was born. She has always enjoyed working with children and is very excited to have the opportunity to share her passion for musical theatre to all the wonderful, creative and very spirited children throughout the San Fernando Valley!
Assistant Director, Producer, Acting Coach
As an actress, producer, director, model and stunt performer, Sierra has worked most of her life in film, television, commercials, print, and her first love: theatre! Sierra received her Theatre B.A. with Honors from UC San Diego, the 3rd most prestigious Theatre University in the country. She continued her training at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. Upon moving to Los Angeles, she became the Managing Director of The Gangbusters Theatre Company, and produced and acted in numerous Ovation, NAACP and LA Weekly Award winning productions. (IMDB)
Sierra has always cherished her work with children - whether nannying, tutoring, or moonlighting as a Mad Scientist at children's birthday parties. In a natural turn of events, Sierra began working in L.A. as a Drama Director in eight different public schools. She has directed children all over the San Fernando Valley in musical productions, improv shows, Shakespeare, and classic straight plays. In 2008, Sierra met Chera at Lanai Elementary School and was the musical director for ACT-1's first production, SEUSSICAL: THE MUSICAL. Shortly thereafter, she and Chera decided to join forces to produce Academy for Children's Theatre, the highest-quality children's theatre company in the Valley.
Outside of ACT-1, Sierra loves to privately coach children and would like to publish some of her own plays. She also very much enjoys working as a Mentor at The Unusual Suspects, teaching at-risk teenagers how to write and perform their own material.
Graham Jackson has been a theatre/musical theatre educator for numerous schools and organizations, including Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Marlborough School, Theatre 360, ACT-1, MyArt, MET2, Turning Point School and Covina High School. He also teaches each summer in Beijing and Shenzhen, China. Because of his nearly two decades of teaching, Graham brings a wealth of knowledge to every student he encounters.
As an actor and musical director, Graham has performed with many theatre companies throughout the Los Angeles area, including Theatre West, Zoo District, Sacred Fools, Evidence Room, and the Getty Villa. These award-winning productions include “Nosferatu”, “The Master and Margarita”, “Pathe X” and “Gorey Stories”. He also performed with Zoo District at the first annual Bulgakov Festival in Kiev, Ukraine, presenting the world premiere of “Heart of a Dog.". As a founding member of FSHA, he brought “Go True West” to Tadashi Suzuki’s Spring Festival in Toyama, Japan. With actress Zooey Deschanel he started the successful cabaret revue “If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies”.
Graham has directed numerous shows, including “Cabaret,” “Woyzeck,” “Machinal,” “Urinetown,” “Into the Woods,” “On the Town,” “Company,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Sweet Charity,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” “Thieves’ Carnival,” “42nd St.,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Hello, Dolly!” and many more. Graham has musically directed over 50 shows, and has played piano since the age of 5. When he’s not leading a class or directing a cast, he’s at the piano.
Jessica Reiner Harris has been a musical theatre performer and nerd since she was a baby, hence her love for sharing the joy with the littlest ones! She has been teaching Mommy as Me music classes for 10 years at various locations, and teaches our Musical Theatre Playdate class at ACT-1 (ages 0-2). She also is one of our beloved Improv teachers!
When she's not teaching, Jessica performs at Universal Studios Hollywood in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and is always auditioning for and playing on stage and on TV.
Kate Brennan is a performer, choreographer and teaches our PlayPals program at ACT-1. She is a Bay Area Native who recently graduated from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and received her BFA in Musical Theatre. Kate has been performing since the age of 7 and her love of performing has grown into a love of teaching! She has been teaching since her freshman year of high school with multiple children's theaters in Northern California and Los Angeles, as well as performing for audiences of all ages.
Some of her favorite roles and directing/choreographing credits include: Avenue Q (as Bad Idea Bear), You Can't Take It With You (as Essie), Alice in Wonderland (Choreographer), James and The Giant Peach (Choreographer), The Lion King (Director) and many more. Welcome to Play Pals!
Jonny Perl Assistant
Jonny Perl is thrilled to join the Act-1 LA Team! As Managing Director of Shinbone Theatre Company, Jonny has produced and directed new musicals (Shel, Lorelei: I'm Coming Out), cabarets (Macabaret, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), and immersive content (What Went Wrong, Welcome Back Woodchucks). As an arts educator, Jonny works regularly with the Young Storytellers Foundation, Five Star Theatricals, and LAUSD.
As an actor, Jonny was most recently seen in Los Angeles productions of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (Cheswick), Tick, Tick...BOOM! (Jon), and Thoroughly Modern Millie (Jimmy). As a production coordinator for Cinemation/Little Bean Productions, he assists with the development of new Broadway musicals and animated films. He is a graduate of UCLA.