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One-man ‘Christmas Carol’ at VLA

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Posted: Friday, December 21, 2012 4:30 am | Updated: 3:15 pm, Fri Jul 19, 2013.

Paul Ciupec’s rendition of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” takes a different twist from the traditional movies and performances.

In “The Story of Scrooge,” being presented at 7 tonight and Saturday night, Ciupec is the only man on the stage, save for a pianist, and he acts and sings about 30 characters.

“It kind of looks like a man having a schizophrenic episode on stage,” Ciupec said. “Almost like a parent reading a bedtime story to their child, where they do the different voices. I do all the voices and mannerisms of the characters.”

Ciupec performed his one-man musical for the first time at Vive Les Arts last year. It was such a success, the showing was expanded to two nights this year.

The complete lack of sets, props and costume changes make for a different kind of entertainment, Ciupec said.

“It’s almost like a ‘theater of the mind’ kind of thing,” he said. “Some of the comments from people last year were that they really enjoyed it. They didn’t know what to expect because it’s so different, but it really made the story come alive for them.”

Mitch Connell, who is the piano accompanist for Ciupec’s performance, said this version of the story, told through dialogue and music, is like nothing he’d ever seen before.

“Everybody knows the story of Scrooge and how he’s visited by three spirits to correct his way of thinking,” Connell said. “I’ve just never seen it presented in this context, where one guy plays all the parts. He sells all the characters well, and he’s a gifted actor and musician.”

The nine songs of the musical were written by Ciupec himself, who said he took pieces of the original story by Dickens to create his lone actor performance.

Scrooge’s song, “A Heart Can Change,” embodies the main message of “A Christmas Carol,” Ciupec said.

“I believe there’s a place in every human heart that can only be touched by a story of redemption,” he said. “That’s what the story of Scrooge is. It’s a second chance.”

Both Ciupec and Connell believe the power of the classic Christmas story, and the benefit of seeing the performance, is that it can reignite an interest in the season for those who are becoming disenchanted.

“It’s not hard to get a bad taste in your mouth about the commercialism of Christmas,” Connell said. “This will take you away from that for a couple of hours and maybe even give you a good attitude about Christmas and what it’s all about.”

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