Planning a Virtual Reunion – Tips, Ideas, and Strategies

UWPIAA- Marisa Connors ('95E)
June 1, 2021
Alumni Experiences, Era Reports, Events, News

Last year, many casts and crews met online using platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts either for the first time or with increased frequency when the pandemic swept the globe. For those who were unable to gather in-person at a reunion in Arizona, a virtual celebration became a logical alternate. The tips, ideas, and suggestions that follow were generated by Cast and Crew Reps from across all five eras through various posts and a Rep Summit “Spin-off” session! Feel free to use them as they suit your cast for any type of reunion—big or small. For 2021, the “official” reunion was planned for July 23–25, should you wish to celebrate the same weekend you might have gathered together in person.

General Ideas/Tips:

  • A “reunion” can be a marathon session, or specifically scheduled times over several days to allow for the various time zones of the cast/crew members.
  • Form a committee to help plan and recruit additional helpers as needed.
  • If you use a paid Zoom account, marathon sessions are possible, as is recording (free accounts time out at 40 minutes for group calls).
  • You can create a Facebook (FB) group for your planning committee to test out posts, audio files, or whatever before posting to the page.
  • If you have FB-hesitant folks, create a WhatsApp group chat or email list where you also share information.
  • It’s helpful to make your committee members admins so that they can schedule posts as needed.
  • Posting “promotional” videos recorded with the whole committee is a way to generate interest (this can be done in Zoom, and other programs).
  • Each committee member will likely draw interest from different parts of the group.
  • Personal outreach is key (this is where you recruit helpers too!).
  • You can highlight your tour, or aspects of it (’95C and E).
  • Bring back a song from the show in a fun way (’95C and E).
  • Have people send videos to play during reunion (’95C and E).
  • Cast/crew shirts could be created (’95C).
  • Recognize “Everyday Hero(es)” in your cast/crew. Celebrate their accomplishments while you are gathered together.

Examples from 2020 Celebrations:

  • ’80B: For Cast B’s 40th Anniversary year, a Zoom-union has been held each month, starting with the 40th anniversary of our dress rehearsal in Tucson where we watched a video of our first show. This series of Zoom-unions will conclude on June 13th, the 40th Anniversary of our final show as a cast, where we will watch video excerpts from the last performance.
  • ’81C: Did a non-stop Zoom call. Several kept it going ALL hours and then everyone could join in and come and go as they pleased. Many people logged in numerous times over the weekend.
  • ’86B: Zoom chat for 3 hours. One of the organizers served as Moderator. It was organized so each person had 5 minutes to “open our suitcase,” and bring everyone up to date on where they are in life.
  • ’95C: Zoom Extravaganza!
    • Pre-recorded and put up on the cast website: Greetings from Reunion Team, Greetings from Cast General Manager/Assistant Cast Manager, Expression Session
    • Friday, Day 1: Happy Hour Zoom Call with “My last 25 years in a nutshell” (4 p.m. CT start) and a keynote welcome by Cast Manager and Assistant Cast Manager.
    • Saturday, Day 2: Saturday C-Time cast meeting (8 a.m. CT start) + cultural awareness presentation by a castmate + expression (pre-recorded video) + “Festa Humana” dance workshop (families participated) + Happy Hour with quiz (spontaneous) + extended Zoom call.
    • Sunday, Day 3: Final Show watch party and extended Zoom call.
  • ’95E: Paralleled the names of a “typical” reunion schedule but conducted everything virtually.
    • Thursday: Era Reception (kept this to an hour, other sessions went much longer, especially on the weekend)
    • Friday: Opening Session (also kept close to an hour)
    • Saturday: Cast Meeting
    • Sunday: Time Capsule and other surprises
    • Further details:
      • Recorded and shared a video to let everyone know a bit about the plans and to generate some excitement.
      • Collected videos from students, staff and staging staff and played them at various times during the sessions.
      • Interspersed cast songs to kick off or wrap up sessions, or to promote the event on the FB page.
      • Conducted a survey before reunion and shared the data during.
      • Played footage that had been shot of our cast and which was used to promote our show by UWP.
      • 5 PowerPoint presentations were created: pre-reunion survey data; 1995 in review; In Memoriam (2 cast members have passed away); a “replay” of our tour (moving from city to city on a map); and highlights of the 3 Project Pride programs we conducted.
      • The keeper of the time capsule unpacked it for us all to see.
      • Held a cast meeting session like was done at reunion where the rep shared UWP/UWPIAA/general cast updates and then we went around to each person for an update.
      • Had a committee of four and recruited some other castmates for specific projects/tasks. Music for “Festa Humana” (song from the show) and one volunteer synchronized videos submitted by 10 mic group members. Two others created a recap video of the very elaborate cast soap opera that they had created when out on the road. There were plans to have the band create something too but ran out of time.
      • Times for activities were changed on the days to try to cover “better” times in multiple time zones spanning from Australia and Singapore to the Pacific coast
      • Sessions were recorded for those who missed them.
      • Everything went into a google drive folder for folks to access after the fact (made a special cast Gmail address that the four planners could access) and they used the drive for the planning and to collect photos as well.
      • During the weekend there was a lot of activity on the cast FB page as well and folks were uploading photos from the cast’s year too!
  • ’00C: Posted schedule on the anniversary of every city, created a cocktail for each city (Video series called “A Common Beat Bar”), and Zoom calls.

Additional Ideas (can also be used during monthly Zooms or for engagement on your FB pages):

  • People can send photos of their homes and you can create an album to generate chatter on the page as people guess “Whose Home Is It?” Other ideas: share recipes and/or holiday traditions (’95E).
  • Two Truths and a Lie (create a form or have folks send you two true statements and a lie. Post them on the page and let people guess. After a few days, “reveal” …) (’95E).
  • Create a video TikTok style where people are doing the same dance move, passing an item, changing into their show costume…whatever you think would engage the most people.
  • Celebrate the accomplishments of your cast/crew members by “shouting them out” on a Second Saturday Shout Out post on the UWPIAA FB page.
  • Watch a Critical Conversation from the playlist as a group and have someone lead a discussion on topics from the conversation.
  • Play Bingo on Zoom or on your FB page:
    • Could be musical bingo where you play music and/or video clips from UWP songs (’92E).
    • UWP bingo, which could be a pre-made card posted to your FB page and you can see who crosses off the most squares (’18B).
    •  Or create your own cast/crew bingo game however you wish.
    • Use a free bingo card generator like https://myfreebingocards.com/bingo-card-generator or https://bingobaker.com/ (there are others too, a Google search gives additional options).
  • Cast/crew “Jeopardy” game: make trivia questions based on cast/crew history, people, events etc. and conduct it in the form of a game show. This could be done in teams too.
  • Host “Bus Dates” using the breakout room feature in Zoom and send pairs or smaller groups to break out rooms for more in-depth discussions.
  • You can make albums in your Facebook group and encourage people to upload their photos into the albums during reunion. Albums make them easier to find again (otherwise photos are “lost” in the news feed). This can really spike engagement as people see the photos and add comments (’95E).
  • Have a scavenger hunt, have folks bring an item that reminds them of the tour to the camera and invite them to share, or write a theme song for reunion.

If you have specific questions or would like to see the Spin-off Meeting recording where ideas were shared, please contact your Cast Rep or Era Rep and they will put you in touch with the rep(s) who can give additional insights.

We hope these will spark some great ideas for you, your cast and/or crew. HAVE FUN!

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