Mission Statement

Mission Statement
Christian Youth Theater develops character and creativity in kids of all ages through quality theater arts training that brings families and communities together while reflecting the Creator.



Treat each individual with respect and significance
Develop character traits including discipline, self-confidence, and integrity
Bring families together through the use of individual talents and abilities
Share the love of Christ in word and deed

Safety at CYT

In 2021 an independent board of directors was vetted and voted on by the leadership of all CYT Branches to assume responsibility for the organization’s governance.  A key priority for the new board was the development of a comprehensive safety system that includes the programs, training, and resources available on this page. The Safety Scene program goes well beyond background checks in it's work to prevent, detect and respond to physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse in CYT programming.  The Safety Scene is currently active and available to all CYT branches across the country.
Any act of abuse is unacceptable and stands counter to CYT’s beliefs. CYT is committed to maintaining a community where all participants can work and learn together free of harassment, misconduct or abuse of any kind, including verbal, emotional, physical and sexual.

Every time I step out onto that stage, I have the opportunity to use my God given talents and passion to portray a soul, a portion of another’s story.

Nina Noelle Russell, CYT Student

What Does CYT Offer?

CYT offers classes over the course of three sessions during the school year: Fall, Winter, and Spring. Weekly classes last for two hours and run for ten consecutive weeks. A variety of classes are offered in drama, voice, dance, and specialty classes that vary per session. Class sizes are small and offer supervision both inside and outside the classroom.

Parents send their children to CYT classes to learn, and that’s exactly what they will do! At the end of a CYT session, your student will come away with a new or improved skill in the area of emphasis. During the last week of class, a high-energy Showcase is presented by each class to show other students, family, and friends all they’ve learned.

CYT shows are always appropriate for the entire family and are an excellent way to introduce children to the arts at a young age!

CYT produces one Broadway-style musical each session. Enrollment in CYT classes provides students (ages 8-18) the opportunity to audition for their affiliate’s current production.

Students not cast in the show are encouraged to participate in other ways. Depending on age and ability, students (and siblings) can participate on the backstage crew, technical team, or the costume and makeup committees.

Week-long musical theater day camps are offered during the summer months for students ages 4-18. Typical camps include team competitions, drama, dance, music, and craft workshops, theme-related devotionals, and an impressive concluding showcase for family and friends.

CYT Summer Camps are all about fun, friendships, and theatrics. Camps are great yearly tradition for your child!

There are many ways to be part of CYT beyond the stage! CYT programs consist of everything that is not a class, camp, or show. Some of the available programs include CYT@school, HYPE, Improvathon, and the yearly CYT EXPO.

I cannot even begin to describe the impact that CYT has had on my life. There, I was welcomed with open arms, despite all of the flaws I thought made me so undesirable.

Alexandra Gandy, CYT Student

Current Staff Members:

David (Sean) Benoit - BOARD CHAIR

Sean is Co-founder and Board Chair for CYT-LC. Sean also serves as Vice President of Health and Safety for Clean Harbors Environmental Services, North America's leading provider of environmental, energy and industrial services, where his focus is to implement, and provide oversight and guidance of the Clean Harbors Health and Safety programs. Sean earned his Bachelor's degree in Occupational Health and Safety from Columbia Southern University and an Associate's degree in Fire Science from Louisiana State University. Sean holds certifications as a Certified Safety Professional, Radiation Safety Officer, and a Certified Environmental Compliance Manager. He has served on various safety committees nationally to ensure safe workplaces for industrial workforces in general and is a registered member and President of the Imperial Calcasieu Chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals.


Chris serves as the Board Vice Chair for CYT-LC. Chris was born and raised in Lake Charles. He graduated from St. Louis High School and then got a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Speech from Louisiana State University. After a brief time working in Atlanta, he moved back to Baton Rouge and obtained a law degree from LSU. He is an attorney with Baggett, McCall, Burgess, Watson, Gaughan, and Andrus. He and his wife Julie have two daughters, Katie and Emma. Chris enjoys working with organizations involving children and he previously served as a Big Brother with the Big Brother Big Sisters program and was a long time Board Member with Education and Treatment Council Inc.


Cammie serves as Board Secretary at CYT-LC. She is a Lake Charles native. Cammie graduated from Barbe High School. She earned her bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies from McNeese State University, where she was a member of Phi Mu sorority. While at McNeese she met her husband, Bob Corley. Cammie and Bob have 3 boys, Austin, Brayden, and Clay. She has been the Financial Assistant at Trinity Baptist Church for over 20 years. Prior to this position, she was the Director of Trinity Baptist Church's After School and Summer Programs for elementary children for several years. She finds it very rewarding to see her former daycare kids bringing their kids to participate in CYT.

Hope Snider - BOARD MEMBER

Hope serves as a founding board member with CYT-LC. She received a Master of Music Education degree from McNeese State University and taught music for many years to all ages from preschool to college level. In 1999, she and her husband, Jerry, founded Christian World Ministries in Lake Charles, Louisiana where they pastor together. Hope loves to teach and uses her humorous teaching style to impart information in a relevant way. She is a breast cancer survivor and loves to help women realize the power they have through the Word of God. She is the mother of two daughters, Allie and Sophie, and understands the balance of family and work. Hope has a passion for loving people right where they are and helping them realize the purpose for their life.

Charles McNeely - BOARD MEMBER

Charles McNeely completes his 26th year with the McNeese Theatre Program in May of this year. Mr. Mac, as his students call him, received a B.A. in Theatre Arts from McNeese and a Master of Fine Arts in Drama and Communication from the University of New Orleans. Mr. Mac is currently the Coordinator of Theatre and teaches many courses offered in the program. Mr. Mac served as State Chair for the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival from 2003-2005 and continues to support the festival by participating in the regional festival each year. During the past four years, Mr. Mac, community members and his students have created original, live theatre productions on Adolescence and Autism/Asperger’s in an effort to bring understanding to the misunderstood areas of life. He just completed directing The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project. When not working, Mr. Mac treasures his time with his wife and two daughters.

Deborah LeBeau - BOARD MEMBER

Deborah serves as a board member for CYT-LC. Deborah earned a B.S. from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, where she was born and raised, and her MLIS (Masters in Library and Library Services) from LSU. She is the Collection Development Librarian for the Calctsieu Parish Public Library System and has been for over 30 years. She has served on numerous professional boards and enjoys networking. She and her husband Mark (set builder) have a son Chase, and a daughter, Zoe, and became involved in theatre when their daughter discovered her passion for acting. Bringing CYT to the community and helping children develop a love for theatre is a joy.

Christopher Primeaux - BOARD MEMBER

Chris serves a board member for CYT- LC. Chris is proud to have been born and raised in SWLA. He is a graduate of St. Louis High School and McNeese State University. He served in the Lake Charles Memorial Health system in multiple clinical and management roles for over 12 years. Chris then worked in a number of technical sales and marketing roles for Philips Healthcare for over 13 years. The tech start up world called and for four years, Chris was an early part of the Waitr. He now is working to bring ice cream and frozen pop joy with BOOMBOX. Chris is married to Mia and they have 4 awesome children. Chris enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and all the other activities that SWLA has to offer. He is a big fan of CYT and the awesome opportunities it brings for the young people and community of SWLA.

Darlene Boagni

Darlene Gauthreaux Boagni, Managing Director at CYT, is native of Los Angeles, California. She received a B.S. in Secondary Education from McNeese State University with concentrations in both Speech/Drama and Social Studies and a Master of Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University. 
 She is a former CYT Instructor and has nearly 20 years of experience as an educator for the Calcasieu Parish School Board. During her tenor with CPSB she has taught Speech/ Drama and Social Studies for 10 years at Oak Park Middle School. She created a curriculum for the Drama classes and served as the program facilitator for the Performing Arts. Her students were able to transition to high school with an earned high school credit in Speech I as a result of the completed coursework in middle school. Many of her students have had success in local high school Drama programs. Darlene has also served as an Instructional Coach, Curriculum Coordinator, and Master Teacher at College Oaks Elementary School and she currently serves as the Dean of Discipline at Combre-Fondel Elementary School. She and her husband, Kenneth, have been in love for 37 years and counting, they have one son, Kevin. Darlene is a woman of God who believes it is her purpose to be of service to others. Her gifting to serve has called her to create a mentor program supporting women and at-risk youth.

Allison Schnake

Allison Schnake, Artistic Director at CYT, is a native of Lake Charles, LA. She attended LSU and received her Bachelor of Science in Vocal Performance and Mass Communication. She then attended the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC and earned her Master of Science in Public Administration with a concentration in arts administration. Allison also serves as the Director of Advancement at Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School. In her role she oversees fundraising, alumni relations, and development projects. Prior to that, she served as the Director of Sales at Charleston Stage, South Carolina's largest professional theatre company, founded in 1978. Allison is married to John Schnake and they have two children; Simon and Cecilia. She is thrilled to join the CYT team and foster a love of the arts in the CYT students.

Lisa Leubner

Hi, my name is Lisa Leubner. I am the Finance Director for CYT Lake Charles. I am also the Admissions and Marketing Director at Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School where I have been for the last ten years. I am also the volunteer troop leader for two Girl Scout troops and I am cheer sponsor at EDS. Prior to 2008, I worked as the Marketing Director at the Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana, Director of Employment and Training at US Unwired, and Employment Manager at Harrah's Casino. I am married to James and we have two daughters. Our oldest is a senior at SBHS and our youngest is in 8th grade. My hobbies are my family, traveling, and trying new things. I graduated from McNeese State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing but also majored in Business Management.

Jessica Menard

Jessica Menard is the class coordinator for CYT-Lake Charles. She currently resides in Sulphur with her husband and their three children. She was the director for a local child care center and has over eight years experience working with children. She attended McNeese State University and majored in Early Childhood Development. She has a passion for CYT and is thankful to have been a part of it's beginning. Watching the students thrive has been a joy!

Brittany Menard

I am just so blessed to be Show Coordinator for CYT-Lake Charles! I’ve always had a real love for music and performance but my love of theatre truly came from my niece Leslie who inspired me to audition for my first show after watching her on stage! Now we are hooked and that’s all we do! I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with a few local community theatres and be in productions such as Grease and Hairspray. I’ve met so many amazing people and I love sharing this passion with my family! I reside in Sulphur with my husband DJ and our 2 amazing kiddos Emma and Noah. I look forward to working with your children and helping them to create memories they will never forget!

Abigail Guillory

Abigail is the HYPE leader for CYT - Lake Charles Before starting her position, Abigail worked as Stage Manager for "Annie,Jr" and as a class session teacher. Continuing her work with CYT HQ, Abigail can be seen as a member of CYT’s EXPO Crew. She is incredibly excited to continue her CYT journey working with our teenagers in developing our HYPE program. Native to Lake Charles, Abigail has worked with numerous theatre companies in the area in Directing, Lighting Design, Costume Design, Sound Operation and much more! As a graduate of McNeese State University, earning her Bachelor of Arts in English Education along with a Minor in Theatre, she is looking forward to sharing her passion for the arts in this new and exciting position!

Daidra LeJeune

Daidra LeJeune is the Social Coordinator for CYT Lake Charles. She is a Texas native but has made her home in Grand Lake with her husband Beau and two daughters, Regan and Randilyn. Daidra received her BS in Nursing from University of Texas in Arlington and has worked as a Registered Nurse for over 20 years. She also has experience working as a substitute teacher at Grand Lake High School. Daidra found CYT through Facebook and knew immediately that this was where her daughter Randilyn belonged! Daidra is passionate about sharing CYT with our community and she can’t wait to meet and connect with families through our social media platforms!

Stefanie Self

Stefanie is excited to be serving as the new CYT Camp Coordinator. She resides in Westlake with her husband, Israel, and their three children, Caleb, Cooper, and Cicily. Stefanie graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor's degree in Child Life and Early Childhood Education. She then earned her Master's Degree from Lamar State University in School Counseling and Leadership/Administration. Stefanie has been employed by Calcasieu Parish School Board for the last 18 years. Her teaching career consists of 16 years in elementary education and currently as the school counselor at Westwood Elementary. Stefanie is an active member of First Baptist Church in Westlake serving in Kid Ministry as a nursery school leader. She is an energetic and outgoing person who looks forward to creating an environment that will help children build lasting friendships and great memories.

Matthew Lankford

My name is Matthew Lankford and I am the set manager for CYT. I grew up in Yukon, Oklahoma and moved to Lake Charles when I was 15 years old. I have a wonderful wife and 3 amazing daughters. It was my oldest daughter, Ava, that got me started in CYT. Once, I was hooked, there was no turning back! It is awesome to see everyone work as a family and see the magic come to life on stage through the kids. I love to see the hard work everyone puts in to make a show happen.

Chelle Martin

Chelle is our Design Artist at CYT. She produces a wide range of art throughout our company. From social media, t-shirts, and advertisements to bringing stage sets to life with paint and faces into character with makeup. Chelle is a native of Sulphur where she and her husband raised their two boys. She has an Associates Degree in Commercial Art and is also a freelance artists with murals in multiple homes and schools in the Sulphur and Lake Charles area. Chelle is excited to share in the opportunity that CYT brings to the area that gives kids a positive place to ACT UP!

Once Upon a Time…

In 1980, Paul & Sheryl Russell had the dream of bringing wholesome family entertainment to their community. Along with a small band of theater-loving friends, they mounted a fully-staged production of The Sound of Music in San Diego, CA to a surprising audience of 5,000.

One year later, they started an after-school theater arts program specifically for youth ages 4-18. Their first show, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, had a cast of 24 students and the rest is history.

Nationally, CYT has grown to be the largest children’s theater organization in the country with more than 38 locations in 25 different cities and enrolling 18,000 students annually.