â€œThe Thief, the Chief and the Magiâ€ started out as a one-man radio show and grew into a full blown play complete with ragtime melodies and derby hats.
â€œWeâ€™re having a good time with it,â€ said Barrie Howard, a Lincolnton local who wrote and directed the play. â€œWeâ€™re laughing a lot.â€
â€œThe Thief, the Chief and the Magiâ€ is made up of three acts based on O. Henryâ€™s stories â€œA Retrieved Reformation,â€ â€œThe Ransom of Red Chiefâ€ and â€œThe Gift of the Magi.â€
The play will be performed on Saturday at Gaston County Public Library at 2 p.m. and at the Florence S. Shanklin Branch Library at 7 p.m. A Sunday performance will take place at St. Lukeâ€™s Episcopal Church at 2 p.m.
Lincoln Countyâ€™s Charles R. Jonas Library will receive the play on Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. All performances are free.
Interspersed throughout the show are 10 original ragtime tunes penned by Howard, who strums his guitar and sings along with the main actors.
This is the third play Howard has written. Although it was originally a radio production, over the course of six months, he changed it into a musical with a potential cast of 25.
For now, the fledgling show has a cast of four, all of whom Howard knows personally.
Cyndi Turbyfill, Howardâ€™s granddaughter, plays the part of Red Chief, a boy who terrorizes his kidnappers. Diane Turbyfill / LTN Photo
Cyndi Turbyfill, Howardâ€™s granddaughter has the youngest role, and Rodney Robbins and Bethany Falls play the lead adult parts. All the actors have multiple roles.
Cyndi plays a sweet little girl, a terror of a little boy and a street smart pickpocket. True to her blood, she has acted in many shows throughout her 11 years, and she enjoys working with Howard.
â€œHeâ€™s my grandpa, and if I have problems I can tell him and not feel bad,â€ she said.
Her favorite role is Red Chief, a little boy who runs around with a tomahawk and gives his kidnappers more trouble than they bargained for. â€œThe Chiefâ€ section of the play is also Howardâ€™s favorite.
â€œRed Chief is just so goofy, and the characters are so funny, and Iâ€™ve made them goofier,â€ he said.
Robbins is also a writer, his young adult novel â€œMy Romantic Spellâ€ was recently published, and he gives his friendâ€™s play positive reviews.
â€œI really like the way the play is written,â€ Robbins said. â€œHeâ€™s done a good job of being true to the spirit of O. Henry.â€
Robbins is also pleased that the initial run of the play will take place in small spaces.
â€œI think thatâ€™s good for a new play,â€ said Robbins. â€œThe script, I donâ€™t think needs a lot of work, but you want to start small and introduce it to people and get some feedback.â€
Howard, who makes a living as a trainer at Sprint Wireless, is excited to see his play come to life, and heâ€™s got big dreams for its future.
â€œThe plan is to let the mustache grow out so I can get the handlebar and buy a derby and be O. Henry,â€ he said.
This is by no means his last shot at writing, acting or directing. He has several ideas for new plays, including a one-man show about Winston Churchill, which he put on the back burner to write â€œThe Thief, the Chief and the Magi.â€
by Sarah Grano