My best source for information and tip-offs for this column come from YOU, the readers.
After having written this daily entertainment column for nine years, sources for scoops and details come from everywhere and everyone, including my own eye doctor, Dr. Stephen Buck of Valparaiso, who had the following to share:
"Phil, I know how you do such a great job in covering local people that have gone on and done well. Natasha Tsoutsouris grew up in Valparaiso and now has this very funny one-woman show in Chicago, and it will also play New Buffalo, Mich. next month. It's all about growing up Lutheran in Valparaiso. I'm taking the liberty of reaching out to you with this information about her upcoming show, which is at the Acorn Theater near New Buffalo, a great stage space, which is right next to Natasha's classmate's distillery Journeymen, owned by Bill Welter, also a Valparaiso graduate. Thanks, Phil and continued success. Steve"
Thank you for passing along this news.
The one-woman show Dr. Buck is referring to is called "Tashie's Choice" and it is at 8 p.m. EST Friday, Oct. 4 at Acorn Theater, 107 Generations Drive, in Three Oaks, Mich. This is one of my favorite cozy performance spaces in our area. And they also have a full-service bar that offers a delicious signature blueberry martini that is dangerously good. Show tickets are $25 at (269) 756-3879 or acorntheater.com.
Tsoutsouris, 36, is a 1995 graduate of Valparaiso High School and her "Tashie's Choice" is a self produced work, written by her and set right in Valpo sharing various tales of her growing up in the area. It is her first one-woman show.
Her mother Joann, attended Valparaiso University for both undergraduate studies and law school and her father James V. Tsoutsouris also attended Valparaiso University Law School and was the first Public Defender in Valparaiso.
Her show "Tashie's Choice" had sold-out runs last November and also in May 2013.
"My mother is Missouri Synod Lutheran, which I think means, 'Fun is for sinners,'" is a favorite line Natasha uses in her show, which carries the tagline: "True adventures as the only Greek-American in a Missouri Synod Lutheran school in a 'dinky Midwestern town,' who at 4-years-old was in the midst of her very first identity crisis."
Set in suburban Indiana in the 1980s, Tsoutsouris recalls her real-life struggles to find her identity under a mother described as "too preoccupied by her own misery to protect and guide her only daughter as she is ostracized by the Lutheran Christians around her who 'don't care for half breeds."
The show's marketing pitch describes it as: "Heartbreaking and raucous, as Tsoutsouris' endurance of alienation, betrayal and humiliation, (all before the age of 5) is a profoundly relatable and entertaining tale, told by a unique and wonderful new storytelling voice. With irreverent levity, she credits surviving her dark childhood days to her only ally – her best-friend and very first boyfriend, Aaron."
From their first meeting at Montessori pre-school and banding forces as they entered Immanuel Lutheran, she said Aaron proved the first person, and by that time, the only person, to fully accept, and stand by through it all as they "stood together, holding hands and watching their Rome burn," as Natasha explains in her show, which I'm told drips with her candor and "chronicles the perils of being young and different amongst religious extremists, being forced to grow up too fast, and triumphing against bullies with the ultimate weapon of youth: a loyal best friend and partner in crime."