It's not uncommon for a man to find himself trading in the sports car for a minivan as his family increases. But Preston Wells is no "minivan man." With nine children ranging from 7 months to 15 years, Preston and wife Heather have long-since ditched the minivan for a 15-passenger.
Preston, Heather and their children have been involved in NarroWay for almost seven years. Word went out that a baby was needed for the 2011 Christmas show. Son Timothy was an infant at the time, so Preston and Heather agreed to bring him to fill the role of Baby Jesus in The Real Christmas Story.
Timothy in his first role as Baby Jesus
Timothy now, playing "Daniel" in The Gospel According to Tennessee
Since that time, three more Wells children have played the part and the entire family has been active on stage. Most recently, newborn Seth played his first role at just a few days old.
Preston joins his family on stage at Christmas, but he is most often found working behind the scenes at NarroWay. Seldom seen by the audience, Preston fills the key role of Stage Manager both in The Gospel According to Tennessee and Lord of Light. Stage managers direct the cast from backstage and ensure that the show runs smoothly. As such, Preston is the primary line of communication between the directors and cast during a show. He makes sure all props, people and animals are in place. He handles any problems that arise quickly and accurately. His calm demeanor and even temperament are tremendous assets in that role.
Preston most often fills the vital role as Stage Manager
Preston and Heather following a performance of The Real Christmas Story
Off stage, Preston is a training manager at Spectrum. He enjoys spending time with his children as well as taking on the occassional home improvement project. His family is also active in church and he enjoys the fellowship of participating in a small group there. As for time out from the busy-ness of life, "I I treasure the rare date nights when my wife and I can spend some time together," he says.
Preston and Heather appreciate the fact that their entire family can be involved at NarroWay. He notes, "It's one of the few activities we can do as a family." Often Preston arrives straight from work to meet his family at the theater. But he knows that would not be possible apart from the extra effort from Heather. "She spends the greater part of the day organizing costumes, preparing food, ensuring 9 kids are ready, and loading up the van."
Four children are captured in this photo on stage
The nine siblings range in age from 7 months to 15 years old
To Preston, being a father means providing spiritually, financially and emotionally for those under his care. "It is a journey which will never end," he says. "I rely on Christ to guide me. Even though I have nine kids, I am far from perfect and I am constantly learning about how to be a good father.”
On that journey, he welcomes the reinforcement his family's involvement in NarroWay has provided. “Many of the shows contain a large amount of scripture in the lines, especially in the biblical shows and Lord of Light." Wells notes. “Because my kids hear the lines so much, they memorize them. When they hear scripture at church, they often perk up saying, ‘That's from Narroway!’"
When asked what advice he would give to young fathers, Preston offers these sound words of wisdom. "The time goes so fast. Treasure your time with your children."