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Christian theater group finds a home

People gather at the main entrance to the building Spiritual Twist bought on Aversboro Road during an open house weekend on Aug. 22-23.
People gather at the main entrance to the building Spiritual Twist bought on Aversboro Road during an open house weekend on Aug. 22-23. COURTESY OF SPREADING FLAMES MEDIA

For about a quarter century, Spiritual Twist Productions bounced around Wake County.

Last weekend the organization, formerly known as Christian Youth Theater and started by Natalie Snapp, celebrated the establishment of a permanent home.

On Aug. 22 and 23 Spiritual Twist held open house and ribbon cutting ceremonies for the facility it bought on Aversboro Road in May. It launches a new era for the Christian-based theater group that had nearly 300 enrolled performance students this year and has operated for the past 27 years.

The venue will host the organization’s 10 annual productions from various age groups, the first of the year being Les Miserables in October. The new facility also will house 8-10 different performance classes as part of its School of the Arts.

“We’re able to do a little bit more of what we love to do with the building,” Snapp said.

Spiritual Twist productions bought the Victory Church building on Aversboro Road between Poole and Lakeside drives for $1.9 million. Snapp runs Spiritual Twist as the executive director and is the only full-time employee of the largely volunteer network. Snapp runs the new non-profit, which was created in October of 2013 as she began working with Victory Church – which moved to another facility – to buy the building.

Starting anew

Snapp had been a music teacher at a small K-8 religious school in Fuquay-Varina which also ran a drama program. When the school closed, she was asked by parents to keep the drama program going, which was the beginning of Christian Youth Theater.

Since then the group has put on productions in various churches, some with original plays but often familiar tales, with a twist.

“We adapt, things in public domain, like Little Women, Phantom of the Opera. We keep the same story but just kind of twist it a little bit of it so that it has a spiritual message,” Snapp said.

Snapp likes to focus on wholesomeness and Biblical elements, relying heavily on symbolism. There are also stories like an original play from the Book of Ruth that is placed in the 1940s, transitioning from the beginning of the jazz era in New York to the establishment of the state of Israel.

“It translates perfectly,” Snapp said. “It’s one of our best plays.”

Kathy MacDonald currently works as the house manager on a volunteer basis. She said she found out about the theater from friends after moving to the area, but her family’s schedules kept them out for a while. Eventually they found time to participate.

“We got more and more involved, and now we’re hooked,” said the mother of a 14- and a 16-year-old in the program.

The group had operated a building in Angier for a number of years, but the facility wasn’t big enough to hold productions so it often used Colonial Baptist Church. The company began using space at the Victory Church building in October before closing on it in May.

“We waited until it was officially ours until we had the celebration,” MacDonald said.

The company’s productions are performed by various age groups. There are various classes that perform at different times of year, with 30 to 40 in each; some cater to children as young as four, others to teens and adults.

In addition to the production classes, the school also offers a variety of talent-honing classes taught by contracted teachers. Between eight and 10 year-long dance, voice, piano, art, wardrobe and stagecraft classes will be offered at the School of the Arts, a comparatively new concept. Teachers share a portion of their proceeds with the organization in exchange for space and use of the Spiritual Twist umbrella.

“They’re not employees, they rent the space. But they’re teaching with our philosophy, one of using talents for His glory,” Snapp said.

The classes and camps listed on the website cost between $150 and $350. That, along with tickets to the shows, will pay down the mortgage.