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Movie, television star takes to the stage in humorous and touching play on the South Coast

Actress Nancy Travis stars in the Ensemble Theater Company production of "Lillian," which runs March 3-13 at Santa Barbara's New Vic Theater
Ensemble Theater Company
Actress Nancy Travis stars in the Ensemble Theater Company production of "Lillian," which runs March 3-13 at Santa Barbara's New Vic Theater

Nancy Travis plays Lillian, in the Ensemble Theater Company production of the story of a middle-aged British woman who falls for a much younger man.

It’s the story of a middle-age woman who falls for a man half her age. Now, the touching comedy is on stage in Santa Barbara.

An actress you know from her work in movies and television steps up to star in the new Ensemble Theater Company production of Lillian.

Nancy Travis plays Lillian. You know her from decades worth of movies like Internal Affairs and Air America, and sitcoms like The Kominsky Method and Last Man Standing. She played Tim Allen’s wife in Last Man Standing for nine seasons.

Travis says her role in the new Santa Barbara production is incredibly challenging, because it’s a live, one-woman show.

"I started doing theater, and it's my first love," said Travis. "I think there is nothing more challenging than standing directly in front of an audience, and just being right there."

The Santa Barbara theater company initially looked at Lillian during the pandemic as a potential virtual production.

"Lillian had its debut in the 90's, written by David Cale," said Jonathan Fox, who is Ensemble Theater Company’s Artistic Director. He also directed this production.

"During the pandemic, I was looking for a one-person show to present as a streaming performance, so this play came across my desk, and I read it, and just fell in love with this," said Fox.

"The play is quite uplifting. It has a lot of humor, and a lot of pathos," said the director. "It feels very relevant for us right now, because we've all been through these strange, and very challenging times."

"I hope people coming away from it with a feeling of optimism...that no matter what life throws at you, it may seem like a huge obstacle, and that you can't get around it, but things always come out for the best," said Travis.

Lillian has preview performances Thursday and Friday nights, and opens Saturday night. It runs through March 13th at Santa Barbara’s New Vic Theater.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.