When Natalie Snapp began teaching music and producing school musicals in 1984 at Wake Chapel, a small Christian school in Fuquay Varina, NC, she had no idea of the real adventure that God was beginning in her life. When the small school closed its doors three year later, parents and students approached Natalie asking, “How do we keep this little theater thing going?” In the spring of 1987, she placed a simple ad in the newspaper for a “Children’s Summer Theater Workshop,” with the goal of doing real theater that honored and glorified God. Twenty-two children registered that summer, learning about music and drama through the Russel House musical based on the children’s novel, Pollyanna.
With a lot of faith and God’s empowerment, Natalie felt called to continue her ministry, but ran into a huge predicament. Even with an army of volunteers to help with costuming, set design, programs, ticket sales, hair and make-up, there was a bigger need to be filled. It was impossible to find scripts that were entertaining, full-length musicals that honored God. At a Christian drama class, Natalie was encouraged to begin writing her own material.
At this point, the little theater company started year-round classes and began using the name “Christian Youth Theatre.” Natalie began writing with Lynn Parker, and they produced their first show, Anne of Green Gables. The ministry continued to grow, and with the support of Donnie and Phyllis Lane, God provided a small building in which to hold classes in Fuquay. Natalie and Lynn continued to write and teach, and God continued to bless their efforts, providing a Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Raleigh as a home for their performances for the next ten years. There were always challenges and changes, including Lynn moving to Tennessee, but God was faithful to provide plays, actors and crew to share His message: The Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Christian Youth Theater continued to grow, their rehearsal space moved to Angier, and God provided area churches for the many classes to perform. By 2009, the name of the organization was changed to Spiritual Twist Productions, and Colonial Baptist Church offered their chapel as a performance space for their productions. That was a huge blessing, but the ministry continued to grow, and by 2013 there were eight theater classes and 10 productions a year. It became clear that the ministry needed its own space and God answered the prayers of many, allowing the purchase of a church in Garner: 1250 Aversboro Road, Garner, NC 27529.
As Natalie approached retirement, the ministry of 300 students a week and a heavy production schedule, made it almost impossible to decrease her responsibilities. Knowing that retirement was around the corner, the decision was made to seek non-profit status, which would allow Natalie to oversee the transition, and with the help of a board of directors, decrease her active participation in the ministry. After much prayer and paperwork, the ministry received its non-profit status in January 2016.
Natalie Snapp, founder of Spiritual Twist Productions, retired in July of 2019, and after prayerful consideration, Leslie Hanna was chosen to be the next Executive Director. Having served as a volunteer, director and musical director, Leslie was familiar with the ministry and its purpose, and was honored to step into the role. She, along with the board of directors, is trusting God to guide the ministry, allowing the gospel message to be shared through the medium of theater for many generations to come!