Pratt welcomes crowd for concert in historic Albion opera house

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 June 2023 at 7:30 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Lonnie Froman is the lead singer for “Match Box Blues” with the Pratt Music Hall Pit Band during a concert at the historic Pratt opera house on the third floor of 110-114 North Main St.

Shannon Vanderlaan and her mother Karen Conn sing “Stand By Me” during the concert at the Pratt.

About 100 people attended the concert on Sunday at the Pratt theater, in what was billed as the venue’s first musical concert in a century.

The Pratt hosted some smaller events about a decade ago, but building owner Michael Bonafede said the permit was for up to 20 people and the site only had a one-day special permit for those performances.

The Pratt secured a certificate of occupancy about a year ago and Bonafede said he hopes Sunday’s event is the beginning of the Pratt again being used regularly for performances.

“We want this to be a place known for sharing the joy of music, and sharing the joy of performance,” Bonafede told the crowd.

Michael Bonafede discusses some of the history of the Pratt theater, which was built in 1882. The original wooden floor and stairways remain.

Bonafede and his wife Judith Kohler purchased the site in 2005 and have made steady improvements to the building, which has many tenants on the first and second floors.

He was thrilled to see the stage used by musicians on Sunday for three hours, and to have a nice-size crowd.

The attendees brought their own chairs, blankets or cushions to watch the performers.

D.J. Button takes a photo of the Pratt Music Hall Pit Band before the performance on Sunday. The pit band includes: Alona Kuhns – bass; Don Mancuso – guitar; Doug Egling & Mark Ketchum – saxophone; Erin Moody – vocals; Gary Simboli – keyboard & vocals; Karen Conn –vocals; Kate Egling – vocals; Leon Corky Zak – keyboard; Lonnie Froman – percussion and vocals; Mike Bonafede – drums; Ron Albertson – vocals; Shannon Vanderlaan – vocals, Warren Jayne – guitar.

Ron Albertson was among the singers who performed on the historic stage. He sang “634-5789” by Wilson Pickett.

Leon “Corky” Zak played the keyboards. He bears a striking resemblance to his brother, Michael Bonafede.

Kate Egling sings “The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King.

Doug Egling, left, and Mark Ketchum played their saxophones for the band. Other performers in the community were welcome to sing with the Pratt Music Hall Pit Band later in the concert.

Alona Kuhns plays Bass in the it band.