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‘Church Basement Ladies’ tells of trials and tribulations faced by group of friends

‘Church Basement Ladies’ tells of trials and tribulations faced by group of friends
The cast of "Church Basement Ladies" are, from left, Charlotte Carpenter, Patrick Foley, Kate Landro, Kristin Hamilton and Amanda Walter. The musical will be performed at the Glendale Centre Theatre through March 9. (Courtesy of Dennis Stover)

The musical currently playing at the Glendale Centre Theatre, “Church Basement Ladies,” is the 76th show director George Strattan has helmed at the local venue.

He estimates he’s directed almost 190 productions over his lifetime, but they haven’t all been musicals.

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“I do a lot of comedies and mysteries and straight dramas. I prefer plays better myself, but the public wants musicals,” he said.

Set in 1965, “Church Basement Ladies” centers on the friendships among four women who volunteer in a Lutheran church basement in rural Minnesota, organizing and preparing food for all of the church’s functions. The show also features the church’s pastor.

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They handle a record-breaking Christmas dinner, the funeral of a dear friend, a Hawaiian Easter fundraiser and a steaming hot wedding in July, where one of the women gets married.

Strattan said some people have said they’ve never heard of “Church Basement Ladies,” but he counters, “There was a day when they said they’d never heard of ‘My Fair Lady.’”

He added that new theatrical choices are sometimes more satisfying than traditional fare such as “Oklahoma” or “The Sound of Music.”

The most recent productions Strattan has directed at Glendale Centre Theatre have been “Barefoot in the Park,” “You Can’t Take It With You” and “Dear Ruth.” Coming up, he will be directing “Nunsense” and “Four Weddings and an Elvis,” both at the Glendale Theatre later this season.

Strattan recalled the first show he directed, the play “The Milky Way,” for the Glendale Centre Theatre when it was in a little house with a barn in the back located on Colorado Street near Glendale Avenue

He graduated from the American Theatre Wing in New York City in 1959, came to California in 1960, got married and never looked back. He lived in Burbank for 41 years, recently moving to Pacoima. While he’s directed many shows in his spare time, he’s had daytime jobs, including working for many years for the California Assn. of Hospitals and Health Services.

The theater bug runs in the Strattan family. His daughter, Jennifer, has directed “Burroughs on Broadway” productions at Burroughs High School in Burbank the past eight years and is gearing up for her ninth.

Cast members of “Church Basement Ladies” are Charlotte Carpenter, Patrick Foley, Kristin Hamilton, Kate Landro and Amanda Walter. Choreography is by Paul Ried. The show runs through March 9.

Glendale Centre Theatre is located at 324 N. Orange St., Glendale.

Tickets are $35 for general admission, $30 for seniors.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit glendalecentretheater.com or call (818) 244-8481.

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