Falling for Lillian

By Richard Mineards   |   March 15, 2022
Nancy Travis (Last Man Standing, Three Men and a Baby) stars in the Ensemble Theatre Company’s production of Lillian by David Cale, directed by Jonathan Fox, and now playing at the New Vic Theatre in Santa Barbara (photo by Zach Mendez)

David Cale’s Lillian, which just opened at the Ensemble Theatre Company’s New Vic, is a wonderful one-woman show about love, life, and loss. The 75-minute production about a bookish middle-aged British woman, who falls for a man half her age, taking her on a whirlwind adventure, stars Nancy Travis, who co-starred with Tim Allen in the hit TV comedy Last Man Standing for nine seasons, and also opposite Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin in the Netflix comedy The Kominsky Method.

The highly entertaining show, directed by Jonathan Fox, has Travis rising admirably to the challenge of a solo performance embodying several hilarious and touching characters. The show, the third of the season, runs through Sunday (March 13).

New Name, Same Tune, for MAW

Montecito’s Music Academy of the West, founded in 1947, is looking to re-brand, I can exclusively reveal. The Miraflores campus, just a tiara’s toss from the beachside home of Beanie Baby billionaire Ty Warner, has been conducting a brand evaluation for the past six months in order to collect information to help refresh the popular institution’s brand identity, with a new visual identity that expresses what the academy has to offer today and in the future.

According to a letter sent out to supporters by Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Ana Papakhian, “Brand strategy research revealed that the current name of the organization is not particularly hindering us. But it is not actively helping us either.”

“A small tweak in the name, if done correctly, would send out a signal that the organization has been making changes to strengthen its position as a leader in the classical music world, and is continuing on that journey… A new name does not suggest a whole new direction, rather an opportunity to better represent those exciting changes.”

Papakhian says that to help the 10-acre institution, formerly the site of the Santa Barbara Country Club – which boasts alumni such as Burt Bacharach, and Grammy and Emmy Award-winning composer James Newton Howard, who also has nine Oscar nominations for Pretty Woman, The Fugitive, Peter Pan, and King Kong, among them – it wants to hear from “key stakeholders.”

“To that end, we are conducting around three online focus groups: Fellows and alumni, board and donors, and local community and ticket buyers,” says Papakhian.

A one-hour Zoom meeting was held last week to discuss the plans. Stay tuned…

On the Market

Perched above the Pacific, a Carpinteria estate Rancho Cariñoso with a private beach is on the market for $109 million. The Padaro Lane property, next door to Oscar winner Kevin Costner’s 10.25-acre estate which he listed for $60 million in 2017, sits on 4.21 acres with 2,500 square feet of living space with three bedrooms.

The seller of the 2014 property is polo player Arthur Cameron III, 40, grandson of Texas oil mogul Arthur Cameron and actress Kay Aldridge, known for her appearances in serial films in the 1940s. The property, above Loon Point, a popular surfing beach, has been in the family for more than four decades. Cameron also owns a 377-acre ranch north of our Eden by the Beach.

Banking Brothers

Santa Barbara Polo Club banking brothers Dan and Henry Walker are bucking the current trend! At a time when other financial institutions are closing branches in favor of the internet, the Farmers & Merchants Bank chief executives are planning to open three more branches. The dynamic duo, who have had a branch in Santa Barbara since 2018, currently have 13 outposts, with Orange County deposits surging 21 percent to $4.3 billion, ranking it number 11 on the Business Journal’s annual list of banks with operations around its Long Beach headquarters.

With a healthy $10 billion in assets, Farmers & Merchants is now the 105th largest bank in the U.S. and the 15th largest in California. “We have California’s strongest bank,” says former club president Dan, whose polo team won the Pacific Coast Open, the biggest tournament on the Left Coast, in 2017 and 2019, “Relationships are the maximum key to our success.”

A Moorish Move

Montecito TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has splashed out $20.95 million on a 2.45-acre Moorish-style estate in the Hot Springs area. The postmodern 2014 property, Villa Tragara, has three bedrooms and four and half baths in 12,000 square feet. It is modeled on the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. It was designed and built by French director Kinka Usher, who made TV commercials for Nike, Pepsi, Nissan, Sony and HBO. 

The estate, just a jog away from the San Ysidro Ranch, includes pickle and bocce ball courts in an oasis-like garden, and also has a swimming pool that cost Usher $400,000 to install. The original asking price was $35 million, but after nearly three years on the market the price was heavily reduced.


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