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

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

Welcome to Christian Youth Theater

Christian Youth Theater (CYT) is an after-school theater arts training program for students ages 4-18. Since its founding in 1981, CYT has grown to be the largest youth theater program in the nation, with Branches across the country training thousands of students a year.

Each local program conducts three ten-week sessions (Fall, Winter, and Spring) teaching drama, voice, dance, and specialty theatrical workshops at weekly two-hour classes. Enrolled students have the opportunity to audition and perform (or work behind-the-scenes) in a Broadway-style musical performed for the community. CYT also offers summer camps for kids ages 4-18, where they will spend a week learning musical theater skills resulting in a showcase performance for family and friends!

CYT stands in the forefront in its commitment to the highest ethical, moral, technical, and artistic standards of excellence. Instructors are professionals, qualified in teaching and/or performing, who understand our mission statement, values, objectives, and goals.

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:

Cherie Benoit

Cherie is Co-Founder and Managing Director at CYT-LC. She grew up in Chalmette which is a suburb of New Orleans. Attending college at Nicholls State University, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in History. She moved to the Lake Area in 1993 where she met her husband, Sean. They have a daughter (Kayla) and two sons ( Luke and Zach). Her work experience includes: The Boys and Girls Club of New Orleans, CARC, Normal Life, and CPSB. Throughout her life, she has found herself working with kids of all ages, in different capacities, but God's calling to start CYT in Lake Charles has been the most exciting, challenging, and rewarding job experience yet.

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!

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!

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!

Jill Engel

Jill Engel is CYT-Lake Charles' Social Media Coordinator. She is a full time student at McNeese State majoring in Mass Communications: New Media with minors in History and Theatre Arts. She's passionate about theatre, photography and of course, her bloodhound, and looks forward to being able to share the joy of theatre with her students and how beneficial and thrilling live performance can be!

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.

Mark LeBeau

Mark resides in Lake Charles with his wife, Deborah, and his son, Chase, and daughter, Zoe. He is currently the art teacher at Barbe Elementary. Mark has used his carpentry skills to assist community theaters for several years. He gets excited to lead CYT in the construction of sets and enjoys the challenge it brings!

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 that attend EDS, Kaitlin and Jolie. Kaitlin is in 9th grade this year and Jolie is in fifth 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!

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.

CYT Lake Charles

Mailing Address:
PO BOX 1275
Lake Charles, LA 70602

Phone: 337-244-3424

Contact Us

BIG The Musical Auditions

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