Park Hall in Ben Lomond has been a staple in the theater community for nearly 100 years. From Little People’s Repertory Theatre (LPRT) to Mountain Community Theater (MCT) to private events and parties, the worn wooden floors of the building have hosted hundreds of thousands of locals in its time. The aging structure has withstood fires, earthquakes, floods and tenuous economic situations, and Park Hall Trustee Denise Gorham is set to introduce another event: a fundraiser for the building.
On Nov. 5 at 6:30pm, Park Hall will come alive with two outstanding musical acts, starting with former LPRT actress turned singer-songwriter Taylor Rae, who will be coming home for this event. Rae’s latest album, “Mad Twenties,” dropped last year to critical acclaim, and gave the artist her first Grammy nomination. The NEXTie award-winning musician now resides in Austin, Texas and is returning “to the place where it all started” for her career on the stage—Park Hall in Ben Lomond.
“Getting to play an event to raise money for restoration of the hall I grew up performing in feels like a full circle moment,” said Rae, who will be opening for local band Mokili Wa.
“Mokili Wa” means “World Listen” in Lingala and Lari, languages of the Republic of Congo, and band leader Elie Mabanza’s native languages. Originally formed in 2019, the band fuses Jazz and African influences, and is gaining popularity in and around Santa Cruz.
The engine behind the fundraiser is Gorham; while tiny in stature, Gorham has big ideas, tons of energy, and the determination to keep Park Hall open for the next 100 years.
“We wanted to do both a fundraiser and something to liven up downtown Ben Lomond. People have wanted Park Hall to be more than just a theater venue for a long time. It’s a community center, and we want our neighbors to feel welcome anytime,” said Gorham, who is thrilled to welcome the event’s entertainers to the stage. “Taylor Rae grew up on that stage in Park Hall, and we’re so happy to have her back. Mokili Wa is world music-style group whose songs make you want to open your heart. I love the message of their music, and all of the band members are really awesome people.”
The history of the building itself dates back to 1923, when the Brooks family established the venue as a public trust; all residents that live within 1.5 miles of Park Hall are part owners of the building, and are welcome to attend board meetings hosted by the current Trustees: Richard Mills, Anne Scott, Lyle Troxell, Gorham, and Gill Sanchez.
There will be beverages and snacks available for purchase at the fundraiser, and Gorham welcomes all attendees to bring their dancing shoes.
“It’s going to be a great night, and I’m looking forward to seeing the community come out to enjoy some live music,” said Gorham.
Interested in attending? All ages are welcome for this family-friendly event! Tickets are available via Eventbrite for $20; tickets at the door are $25. For more information, visit bit.ly/3T1RNK1.