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Former OU-Chillicothe Student Returns For Comedy Show

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Comedienne Natasha Neal, a former Ohio University-Chillicothe student, will present an evening of comedic theater featuring her original material, Ghettonoudidnt, during Comedy Night at 8 p.m. on April 25 in OU-C's Bennett Hall Auditorium.

The upcoming star-studded program will also include performances by pianist Robb Feldhaus and jazz vocalist Margaret Breidenbaugh, both of Cincinnati, and gospel singer Rosalyn Cross of Chillicothe.

Tickets are available at the OU-C Box Office on the evening of the performance. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens and free for OU-C students. Proceeds will benefit the Dr. Jean Kerney Scholarship endowment.

Neal was active in OU-C’s theater program while a student on campus, and she has since performed hundreds of times during a 15-year career as a stand-up comic.

Her career as a comedienne has been a natural evolution of experiences and passions.

"My whole life is stand-up comedy. I went through a lot of bad times, and the only way to get over them is to laugh about it," said Neal, a graduate of Westerville South High School. "I love theater and I love comedy. When I was getting started, I called Dr. (OU-C theater director Ken) Breidenbaugh, and he said, 'why not fuse comedy and theater together and combine them?'" It makes sense, since theater and comedy are the same, but are also different in many ways. In theater, the audience goes to see the performance of a story. In comedy, they go to hear people tell jokes; more of the ‘knock, knock, who is there?’ kind of thing."

The comedy skits leave Neal more vulnerable to the audience’s reaction.

"In theater, you have the ability to bring a character to life, which will then be accepted by the audience. In comedy, it is just you. Also, in theater, even if you miss a joke, you can go forward and you are still in that performance. It is not so easy with comedy. In comedy, you have to catch jokes. Being funny has to be natural."

However, whenever on stage, there are common themes.

"Performing is addictive," she said. "It is a different world."

The upcoming performance will blend her acting and humor skills.

"This particular show is a fusion of comedy and theater for the first time in my career," Neal said. "Instead of just me, I will take on the role of characters during the act. It transcends the characters and incorporates them into the comedy routine."

Her son Daquan, 18, may join her onstage for a cameo spot.

Breidenbaugh knew Neal had a bright future the first time he met her during her time as an OU-C student.

"The second I met Natasha, I knew she was a natural performer," Breidenbaugh said. "She came to observe an acting class I was teaching, and I asked her to read with us. It was evident she had great timing and great delivery."

As an OU-C student-actor, Neal performed in the productions of Hat Tricks and The Butter and Egg Man.

"It is great to be back at OU-C. Once in a while, you meet people you never want to let go of, and that is how I feel about many of the people on campus, especially in the theater program," Neal said.

Neal earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies while a Chillicothe Campus student, and she is completing her master’s degree in organizational communication from Ohio University this spring.

More background material is available on her web site: www.tashanneal.com.

The OU-C theater program has a busy slate of performances this spring. Upcoming productions include:

The Belle of Amherst on May 9-10. OU-C student Gwenndolyn Aume, a post-secondary high school student from Logan Elm, is the featured performer in this one-person play. The Tony Award-winning production is based on the life of poet Emily Dickinson. A dinner will be held prior to the performance. For more information, call 740-774-7732.

I Ought to Be in Pictures on May 30-31. This comedy-drama was written by Neil Simon. A reception celebrating theater performances of the past will be held at 7 p.m. on May 31.