Marti Mendenhall can’t wait to get up onstage July 13 and sing her heart out as the first guest performer in Clackamas Repertory Theatre’s new cabaret series, Sundays at Seven.

by: ERIKA PLUMMER PHOTOGRAPHY - Marti MendenhallHer performance will be something of a homecoming for her — she grew up in Oregon City and sang while she was in high school at OCHS, but has not performed again in the city until now.

Theme has personal meaning

The concert’s theme is “Never Too Late,” and speaks to her in many ways.

“It resonates with me very much. There is a message that you can start later in life and still find success and your passion,” she said.

“I wrote the song ‘Never Too Late’ for a couple in their late 70s. In fact, I woke up singing this song — it’s never too late to find love,” Mendenhall said.

“This is also the perfect theme for me because after college I stopped singing for about 17 to 18 years and took a different path. Then I realized I was denying that part of myself that could reach people in a positive way,” she said.

“I love being onstage so much, thinking I’m making a difference. When I step onstage, I hope I’m changing someone’s day or week, touching them in a profound way,” she said.

Mendenhall continued to sing with Oregon Repertory Singers and in her church choir, but now has ventured out on her own with backup singers and musicians.

“I am so grateful I have a second chance to sing. My message is go after that dream, find that one thing that might be your calling.”

Now’s the time

The concert’s theme also meshes with her belief that it’s important to “seize the moment to say what you have to say to the people you love, and express your gratitude,” Mendenhall said.

Her current favorite song, “Words Last,” was written for a friend of hers and a supporter of the arts who recently died from a rare cancer.

“I wrote it for her and her family. It says to say what you have to say now, and live in the moment. Life is short; it’s really important to say ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you’ while you can.”

It also is “never too late to develop into whatever you want and become who you are,” she said, noting she has found herself through music.

Concert has wide appeal

David Smith-English, the artistic director of Clackamas Repertory Theatre, said he heard Mendenhall perform at Jimmy Mak’s in Portland and asked her to lead off the new cabaret-style series.

“I was impressed with her singing, her style, her band, which is great, and how she connects with her audience. I appreciated that she sings a lot of standards which will, I think, please our audience,” he said.

Her shows have wide appeal, Mendenhall said, describing her style of singing as a mix of jazz and pop.

“My style comes from experience, from mentors, from love, laughter, heartbreak and uncertainty. These have helped me settle into myself and become who I am; I lead by example. You can change your life.”

What she is most looking forward to from Sundays at Seven is the opportunity to help CRT expand its audience base.

“This is an outstanding theater company, and I am happy to help people discover it,” she said.

What does she love best about performing?

“Each show is unique and exciting. It’s almost like having a dialogue with the audience. I teach them a song, and they leave feeling happy, touched and entertained,” Mendenhall said.

She added, “I reach for their hands and say, ‘Come along with me for the ride.’ When I step onstage, everything flows through me. I just can’t wait to get up there and sing and see what will happen.”

Sundays at Seven

What: Clackamas Repertory Theatre’s three-show, cabaret series

When: The first show is at 7 p.m. on July 13, featuring Marti Mendenhall, a nationally known jazz artist. Visit for more info about her upcoming performances.

Where: Osterman Theatre at Clackamas Community College, 19600 S. Molalla Ave., Oregon City.

Cost: $15 each or all three shows for $40; purchase online at or by calling 503-594-6047.

Next up: The second concert, on Aug. 17, will feature Merideth Kaye Clark, star of last year’s CRT production of “Kiss Me Kate,” whose cabaret performance in 2013 served as the inspiration for the series.

The final performance will take place Sept. 28, when musical theater singer/dancer Don Kenneth Mason takes to the stage. More info at

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