New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

There's a moment at the beginning of Catch Me!, currently playing at the New Vic, when the characters suddenly notice one another and erupt in an explosion of spirited hugs. This moment, this reunion of these six old friends, underlies all the circusy antics and acrobatics that follow. Their friendship reignites so fiercely that the show becomes an explosive celebration of their bond, and they go on to spend one summer's day reconnecting through incredible feats of trust and collaboration.

I've lived in New York for almost seven years, and still some of my closest friends live far away from here: San Francisco, Chicago, London. So when we have the chance to visit, time slows down. Every memory I make takes on this sort of happy glow, and I never stop smiling. We all have old friends like this, people whom we catch up with only rarely. But when we do see them again after years apart, it's like a burst of firecrackers. We might not all bounce off a trampowall or have a popsicle-eating contest, the way the friends in Catch Me! do; but we somehow pick up right where we left off and wonder how it is that we’ve gone so long without each other's jokes and insights, without each other's company.

Last summer, I had my wedding here in New York, and for some reason, friends and family from every stage in my life all agreed to show up! I'm joking—of course they came. But it's difficult to square "all these people have RSVPed yes" with "Oh my gosh, everyone I know and love is in one room at the same time." We made a long weekend out of it, culminating in a Sunday excursion to Governor's Island for anyone who was still in town. As we waited for the ferry, enjoying the best of Smorgasburg's fancy-pants artisanal tacos and minty lemonade, we suddenly bumped into a completely separate group of college friends. They were visiting New York for entirely different reasons, and we reconnected for the first time in years. While I'll certainly never forget my wedding weekend, the serendipity of that reunion-within-a-reunion is the memory that glows brightest.

Zack's Wedding Reunion

I asked our staff members here to contribute stories of their own long-lasting friendships, memories of reunions that have take on special meaning for them, or that have led to special traditions. Boy, did they deliver. We'd love to hear about your own memorable reunions with friends! What did you do and where did you go? What did it feel like and why do you remember it so clearly? Have you made any reunion traditions? Leave your story in the comments or on our Facebook page!

I have a dear friend who helped me get a job at The LA Times many moons ago. We became buddies with two other girls in the department, and after six years our lives took us to different jobs, marriages and states. The four of us still meet up every five years, and what always strikes me as wonderful is that our friendship feels the same now as it did then, like we never skipped a beat with the passing time. We're planning on Utah for the next reunion, and then the following one will be in NYC! — Rhesa Richards, Assistant to the Executive VP and VP of Operations

Homemade pizzaWhen my closest friends and I all returned from studying abroad and were on summer break, we decided to reunite at my friend Sarah's house in Staten Island for a sleepover. I can remember clearly how loud everyone shouted when a new friend would arrive at the house and we would attack them with hugs! We spent the night eating chips and guacamole, making homemade pizzas and playing multiple rounds of Quelf. Then, in the morning, we all made each other scrambled eggs and biscuits. It was nice how we were all so happy to see each other, but at the same time it felt like we had never left. Now every break we have from school, we all gather at Sarah's house for a night of pizza, Quelf and catching up. — Melanie Ridgway, Spring 2015 Education Apprentice

Since leaving our homes in South Florida for college, one of my nearest, dearest, and oldest best friends, J, and I have lived in separate cities. When we did live at home, there just...wasn't much to do! So our time together as high schoolers was spent primarily wandering around (mostly closed) strip malls, slurping slushies and listening to Fiona Apple. (I know, teenage angst, amiright?) Now that we're adults, whenever we travel back home for holidays, we find ourselves recreating our high school adolescence, not so much out of nostalgia but out of giggly reunion! She still has that Fiona Apple CD. — Katie Diamond, Graphics & Media Production Coordinator

Birthday cakeThis past December, my Dad planned a huge multi-layered surprise for my step-mom's 50th birthday party. First, a surprise party in Leesburg, Virginia (my hometown). Both her best friend who lives in Texas and I were present—she had no idea we were in town! Afterwards, she had plans to go on a cruise for a week to the West Bahamas. She found out before leaving for the airport that my sister and I were coming, our first big family vacation in ten years! Then, we get on the boat, and it turns out our group is about twenty-five people—many family members and friends came to join us on the cruise! — Erika Atkins, Education Department Coordinator

When my family gets together these days, we've developed an informal tradition of breaking out board games—most likely Settlers of Catan. None of us live with enough people to play on an average night at home, so it's a nice opportunity to do something we don't normally and a much more fun way to spend time together than just watching TV. — Jamie O'Brien, Assistant Director of Digital Services

After we graduated , my core college friends would get together at least once a year and sometimes more. For many years, it was for bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, holidays, sometimes a special girl weekend, etc. But this last year, we all got to see each other multiple times to celebrate a momentous year of birthdays. Always a fun time! — Courtney J. Boddie, Director of Education / School Engagement

ScissorsI grew up in Corona, Queens, and while I've lived in many other places over the years, my best friends are still from there. One of the members of my group of friends from Queens is a hairdresser, and for the past thirty years or so, his best friends (both men and women and myself included) have made hair appointments every six to eight weeks with him on a weekend. We spend the entire day visiting with each other and getting our hair done, after which we all go out to dinner together. We keep to this schedule to the best of our ability because we love each other's company and we are loving going through life together, even though our paths have taken all of us in different directions. — Alice Arias, Controller

Posted by Zack Ramadan
Tags: 2014-15, Staff

Written by Jamie O'Brien, Assistant Director of Digital Services

An email goes out after every New Victory public performance. It contains two evergreen questions:
Share one thing we did that helped you enjoy your visit and one thing that we could have done to make it better.
That email is step one in a process that turns digital feedback into real world action items for our staff. As the Assistant Director of Digital Services, it's a process that combines all sorts of things I like to geek out on: smart use of technology, automation and integration across data platforms, evaluating success based on specific customer comments and challenging one's self to continuously improve. Transparency is the name of the game, so, to me, it's also an essential step that we provide glimpses into what happens after you hit "Submit" on the feedback survey and send your thoughts our way.

Comments cover many topics.Your comments land in the inbox of almost every full-time staff member connected to New Victory public performances. A daily report that includes all responses, verbatim, arrives each morning, plus we recap per-production trends. If your feedback after the first weekend points to easy improvements, like re-calibrating temperature or music volume, we simply take care of it. Anyone requesting information or in need of customer service hears from a Ticket Services manager. Larger topics that emerge become agenda items for department meetings and Senior Staff-level discussions.

While the responses are themselves anecdotal, I log some quality spreadsheet time in order to track trends. Each answer gets tallied by theme—and even on days when the rows start to blur together, it's a pretty great task since you're quite generous with the compliments: Even on the "could improve" side, 40+% of people answer like Karen F did, aka "Not a thing, truly." Artistic choices, the staff, the amenities and the Public Engagement activities dominate the "things we did well" thoughts. Suggestions are heart-felt too, covering everything from wishing the Talk-Back could be longer to wishing the family in front of you had gotten a babysitter for their 2-year-old instead of bringing him to an opera recommended for 8+...

Your feedback—compliment or complaint—lets us know where we're succeeding and where there are still gaps in our efforts to provide family-friendly entertainment in a family-friendly environment. Here are two examples of how we've made changes based on your comments:

"It might have been nice to have a glossary of terms in the playbill explaining some of the culture and traditions of Jamaica." - Daryl L
Daryl saw Bob Marley's Three Little Birds during one of its first performances here last season. We loved the idea—and had the website updated and a blog ready midweek, and a poster up in the theater for the weekend.

"The line for snacks was so long that by the time we were served, intermission was over." - Pamela R
It's important to fin-ish your snack before Intermission ends!It's no fun to buy animal crackers only to have to stow them away before Act II because crinkling bags aren't a good addition to the show's sound design. That's why you'll see an extra Usher ringing up your order next time you line up for a bite between acts.

We're still contemplating the great unsolved mysteries of 2015 family theatergoing—late seating disruptions, glowing smart phones, tall parents seated in front of short children (and tall children in front of short parents—hi Mom!), etc.—but I'll return to post another progress report in the Spring.

In the meantime, you've got a standing invitation to share your thoughts with us. Add a note in the comments, tweet @NewVictory, click on the survey link in your next post-show email or send us an email. I really, truly look forward to it—and so does the rest of the staff at The New Victory.

Jamie O'BrienJamie O'Brien is the Assistant Director of Digital Services for The New 42nd Street and has been wrapped up in all things email, website and digital for The New Victory since 2007. She reads every piece of submitted feedback at least twice. She is luckily a few inches taller than her mother.

Posted by Jamie O'Brien
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