For Oregon High School Performing Arts Center director Nate Mendl, planning a Spotlight Headliners Series was a way for him to go back to his performing roots.
A former professional touring musician of 15 years, Mendl transitioned into teaching a few years ago with his wife. He wanted to use his performing experience to provide a positive experience for students and their families.
So when he took the director position, he wanted to find a way to use “the beautiful space” that is the OHS PAC. And with the theater having undergone improvements to its sound system, lighting and backstage video monitoring, starting a series made sense.
The $20 ticket prices are affordable, in comparison to similar series in the area, he said, and that’s for a reason: He hopes that will help build an audience.
He worked to keep ticket prices down by bringing in acts he got to know personally as a member of a capella group The Cat’s Pajamas and by getting donations from some Oregon individuals and businesses.
The first act, on Oct. 12, R&B and jazz vocalist Jane L. Powell, will likely be spontaneous, Mendl said. Powell will feed off her audiences energy and wow them with her talent.
Mendl said he first met Powell on Oprah Winfrey’s “cruise for a lifetime” – Winfrey’s 55th birthday celebration in the Mediterranean in 2009. Powell was performing as a headliner on the cruise, and The Cats Pajamas preceded them.
When a capella group ReVoiced comes to visit in March 2020, audience members will be in for an experience, which full choreography “reminiscent of The Temptations, but redone in a 2019 type sound,” Mendl said.
“ReVoiced are guys I could call at any time,” Mendl said.
ReVoiced formed when one of the lead singers from The Cat’s Pajamas – of which Mendl was a part of from 2005 to 2013 – decided he wanted to form a different business plan.
According to the event flyer, ReVoiced has performed on Broadway and on television shows like American Idol and The Sing-Off. They’ve also raised over $60,000 for music programs across the United States.
The third act, Buckets N. Boards, is a duo Mendl said he met while living in Branson, Missouri.
“They are a lot of fun,” Mendl said. “They won’t just appeal to the youngest kids in the series (audiences).”
An event flyer states Buckets N Boards performances are chock full of “amazing percussion, ridiculous songs, spectacular tap dancing, inventive instrumentation and a variety of musical talents” and plays frequently on Disney Cruise Lines.
“I’ve watched – many times – a crowd of elderly folks who laughed so hard they might hurt themselves,” Mendl said, chuckling. “They have a unique knack for developing a show.”
For information about the Spotlight Headliners Series, email Mendl at firstname.lastname@example.org.