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    Broadway actors Peter Strauss, Jean Smart, and Michael Nathanson have a gift for Ojai theatergoers: they’re bringing Bruce Graham’s play The Outgoing Tide to the Matilija Auditorium for a staged reading July 20.  There’s the gift of their talent and then the second gift they’re making is to the Ojai Art Center Theater, the recipient of all the ticket receipts.
    The three-character play is being presented by the Ojai Performing Arts Theater (OPAT) for one performance only.  Emmy-winner Strauss wants to do the play in his hometown because he has seen how moved and cheered audiences are by the play. He knows this because he has appeared in the role of Gunner in two productions in New York and one in Wilmington.
    As Gunner, Strauss portrays a crotchety retiree who refuses to accept his impending death.  His long-suffering wife of 50 years (Peg) played by Emmy-winner Jean Smart, tries to find a place to care for Gunner as he declines. Their son Jack, played by TV veteran Michael Nathanson, and the part of the narrator will be read by Michael Addison. Peter Strauss is the director.
    “This is an extraordinary play about the power of love, regrets, forgiveness and letting go,” said Strauss. “It’s profound in a manner that only theater can offer.
    “Our reading is intended to support the Ojai Art Center Theater and enable it to continue to offer amazing theater to our community. More than ever, we need to share the theater experience of drama and comedy illuminating the human condition and reminding us of our universality.
    But comedy leavens the drama because Gunner is really funny.  “I don’t know how many good days I have left,” Gunner says of Peg. “Your mother’s at Walmart pricing diapers for me.” 
    OPAT’s CEO Joan Kemper says, “We’re enormously grateful to Peter Strauss and his cast for bringing this extraordinary script to Ojai.  The play will resonate with Ojai theatergoers and our performing community will benefit mightily from the ticket proceeds.”
    “As Artistic Director of the Art Center Theater I am overjoyed that these three stars have agreed to donate their time and efforts to benefit the theater,” said Richard Camp. “The proceeds will go toward uplifting the productions throughout the season and help continue the theater’s efforts to bring the highest quality theater to the Ojai Valley.”
    This one-night benefit performance will be July 20 at Matilija Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at or purchased by phone at 310-497-2248. The prices are $55 general admission and $75 for preferred seating and gala reception afterward to meet the cast. Buy early as this benefit is expected to sell out.

    Meeting information

    Staged reading of “The Outgoing Tide”
    Benefiting the Ojai Art Center Theater
    Produced by the Ojai Performing Arts Theater
    July 20, 2019
    7:30 pm

    Matilija Auditorium
    703 El Paseo Road
    Ojai, CA 93023

    Tickets are available online at or purchased by phone at 310-497-2248. The prices are $55 general admission and $75 for preferred seating and gala reception afterward to meet the cast.

    Ojai Performing Arts Theater

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