As a gentle breeze caressed David Wills' body while he rode off into the sunset — a soft, familiar voice called out to him for a favor. However, Wills didn't do favors anymore. He was five years removed from that lifestyle and a changed man.
But the voice echoed. Feeling like Al Pacino in "The Godfather: Part III" ("Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"), Wills gave in. He decided to return to community theater and serve as the musical director in New Candlelight Theatre's "Christmas By Candlelight," a robust musical revue featuring 30 classic Christmas standards including: "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas," "Jingle Bells" and "Christmas Waltz."
The show opens Friday night and runs through Dec. 23. A buffet dinner is also included with the price of admission.
Going back home
Though he hesitated to accept longtime friend and director Bob Kelly's request to work with him in "Christmas By Candlelight," Wills knew deep down he'd have a ball working with Kelly, and his other good friend Jenn Quinn, the show's choreographer.
Yet, the icing on the cake for Wills has been his astounding cast of 20-plus angelic singers who've knocked his socks off.
"I've never been as proud of a show," beamed Wills, 55, of Brookhaven, Pa. "The end of the show is jaw dropping. I'm like, holy crap, 16 singers? They sound like 50! They have such huge voices."
The production's closing numbers are the caroling staples "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "O Holy Night."
Dance the night away
Since the show is a musical revue, you'll also see hefty dance numbers in a variety of styles such as jitterbug, waltz and jazz.
Acknowledging that simultaneously singing and dancing isn't easy, Wills said the cast's rendition of "Christmas Waltz," in which the cast performs a waltz, is particularity stunning due to the busy song's busy arrangement and the demanding choreography Quinn assigned to them.
"It's really intense harmonizing and they're doing the harmony while they're doing this intense waltz," Wills said. "When you're 55, I can't imagine doing what they're doing."
Sunny days ahead
Prior to "Christmas By Candlelight," Wills' most recent involvement with community theater was in 2010, when he played the role of Max Bialystock in the Player's Club of Swarthmore's production of "The Producers." Following his final performance in the show, he decided to retire from theater, something he's been apart of since the late 1970s. In his theatrical career, Wills has performed in and directed more than 1,000 productions throughout the tri-state area to New York.
Obviously, and thankfully, the 55-year-old hasn't fully committed to retirement. In fact, he's considering becoming more active in theater again, but nothing's set in stone, said Wills, who made his debut at New Candlelight Theatre in 1989 as an understudy playing Chuck in "Promises, Promises".
Page 2 of 2 - For now, he's just feverishly anticipating the arrival of Friday.
"I'm really excited because I'm going to miss opening night, because I'm going on a cruise!" smiled a serious Wills, adding he booked his vacation prior to being asked to musically direct "Christmas By Candlelight". He'll return from his cruise on Nov. 17.
As to where he'll be located on this lavish trip, Wills casually remarked, "somewhere in the Caribbean."
IF YOU GO
WHAT 'Christmas By Candlelight' opening night
WHEN 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 9; show runs through Dec. 23
WHERE New Candlelight Theatre, 2208 Millers Road, Wilmington
COST $33 child; $56 adult
INFO nctstage.org or 475-2313