Scrooge on stage

Paul Ciupec acts out a character from his one-man performance of “The Story of Scrooge” during a rehearsal at Vive Les Arts Theatre in Killeen. He takes the stage tonight and Saturday.

A one-man show version of the venerable holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” returns for the third year to Killeen’s Vive Les Arts Theatre for a single performance this evening.

“The Story Of Scrooge” was created by Paul Ciupek, who also stars in the two-act musical adaptation. Ciupek, whose stage name is the phonetic pronunciation of his surname, “Q-pek,” also composed the nine songs he sings in the show.

“It’s pure Dickens,” Ciupek said. “Nothing added. I’ve just edited carefully so the play doesn’t run too long.” With a 15-minute intermission, the performance lasts “about two hours.”

“There are no set changes, no costume changes and no props,” he said. “Different (colored) lights paint the mood.” Ciupek alters his voice and mannerisms to portray “over 30 characters” in the course of the show.

Musical accompaniment to his onstage vocals will be a recording made by local pianist Mitch Connell.

“The songs are my lyrics, not Dickens’ words,” Ciupek said.

In addition to “The Story Of Scrooge,” Ciupek, a worship leader at LifeWay Fellowship in Killeen, has participated in many VLA productions.

After tonight’s VLA performance, he’ll take his one-man show to Waco Civic Theatre for a Saturday one-nighter.

“It really helps people get in the spirit of Christmas,” Ciupek said. “To see one man really turning his life around — that’s what my song, ‘A Heart Can Change’ is all about.”

And he hopes that his one-man tour de force shows the audience that “there is a place in every human heart that can only be touched by a story of redemption.”

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