2023 Outstanding Cast/Crew Representative
Martha “Marty” Elcan – ’73A
Serving as a Cast Rep requires a diverse set of skills to keep things organized among a cast of 150 alumni that traveled fifty years ago and is still active today. In the end, it takes a talented director to manage the on-going reality show, “The Up with People Cast A 1973-1974 Tour.” Cue Hollywood director (and actress) Marty Elcan of the cast. In her role she keeps track of cast member’s contact information in a meticulously maintained directory with periodic updates sent to the cast alums.
But, beyond the basics of keeping track of people’s whereabouts, Marty has helped organize many official UWPIAA reunions (not to mention a few that were “unofficial”!). Additionally, she played a lead role in taking the cast’s alumni newsletter “Road’s Together Again” online, is Administrator of the 73A Facebook page, and helped organize cast visits via ZOOM during the past several years. As one might expect from a television and film director, Marty, for decades, has videotaped 73A cast reunions and then produced VHS or DVD copies that she’s mailed to the cast.
The message of hope expressed through UWP lyrics and deeds so many years ago is a legacy that Marty helps maintain. One 73A alumnus noted, ”she has been instrumental in coordinating benevolent projects [of] our cast . . . for example, a scholarship fund for the daughter of a medically-challenged cast member, support for a cast member in his mission to take tents to Nepal after the devastating earthquake there, and helping cast members get to the reunions when they might not otherwise be able to afford to come”.
Marty has been very involved in organizing activities for the Southern California Alumni Association over the years and has helped welcome casts coming to the Los Angeles area. She was part of Ben Con – a Benefit Concert of UWP songs from five decades – created to raise scholarship money for underrepresented students in the Los Angeles area to travel with Up with People. Marty has always taken time to visit Up with People alumni when filming on location in castmates’ hometowns across the country and on occasion has been able to use cast members as extras in the movies!
When Marty is not busy as a UWP Cast Rep, or with her career as an award-winning movie director (DGA) and actress (SAG/AFTRA), she is involved in her community serving as an emeritus board member of the Directors for the Alliance of Women Directors, singing with the a capella group Sweet Adelines which performs at retirement homes, service clubs, and community events in the Los Angeles area, and has been a featured speaker on panels for film festivals across the U.S.
At the Reunion Honoree Discussion Panel, we were asked “What’s next?”-Post-reunion update from Marty
As Cast Rep, I’m thrilled to say that before the 2023 reunion was over, a group from our cast was already teaming up to plan a cast reunion in Albuquerque in 2025! (We have a strong presence in Albuquerque, and the enthusiasm in our cast knows no bounds when it comes to seeing each other again!)
Another cast member came forward to help set up a Google survey for our cast so that we have an easy way to collect updated cast information and compile ideas for future reunions. I’ll admit I’ve been doing everything “the old fashioned way” – sending out emails and collecting responses one by one, and I’m thrilled to be dragged into the 21st century!
All this to say, we have a very special cast who has held strong for 50 years, and I can only take credit for keeping the information disseminated. We have SO many folks who step up to make things happen whenever they see a need.
In my acceptance of my award at the reunion, I mentioned that our cast has banded together for many projects – whether it was to help the daughter of a medically-challenged cast member with a four year college “cast scholarship,” collecting money to support cast members going to help in Nepal after their devastating earthquake, or just chipping in to help fellow cast members get to reunions. We first joined Up with People because we cared about people and we cared about the world. That passion for reaching out and helping others will always be with us – sometimes we just need direction. As a Cast Rep, I came to realize that when I let a “need” be known, our cast members eagerly rallied to help.
I encourage other Cast Reps to find a project or a need, perhaps one within your cast, and let your cast know of the goal. There is nothing like working together to make the world a better place to re-galvanize the UWP spirit and bring your cast together in a common goal and its accomplishment. If every cast that ever traveled took on just one positive project together, imagine the impact we could make!
Lisa Nussbaum – ’93A
Some people grow into the role of cast rep, but sometimes a person has the passion for this role from the time the cast is first formed. Cast 93A has been fortunate to have had a staunch supporter, Lisa Nussbaum, since day one. She was not only a champion of the cast during its travels, said one castmate, but carried this enthusiasm forward into the years since the cast left the road.
Not many casts, especially one that has been off the road for thirty years, can revel in everyone being connected, but that’s exactly the case for 93A. Every single original cast member is connected through Lisa’s efforts using new ways in keeping people connected, including a monthly cast newsletter, after locating those cast members with whom contact had been lost. Not only can everyone communicate with each other, everyone can recount their days on the road through the yearbook project that Lisa organized. She was responsible for “organizing and compiling the thousands of photos we took during our cast year and finally putting together our long-awaited Cast A yearbook which she paid for completely out of her own pocket without any expectation of reimbursement and delivered them all to us fully printed in color and beautifully bound at the last cast reunion.
We can all recall an instance of a misplaced or forgotten piece of luggage. Lisa recalls that her luggage almost became permanently lost. She recalls that after host family pickup, “. . . as we were driving home, the [car’s] hatchback flew open and luggage spilled onto the road. Our host mom stopped the car, jumped out, grabbed the luggage, gave it a good ‘ol heave-ho, slammed the hatchback and before we knew it, we were zipping along to their home! My roommate and I stifled giggles the rest of the way!
Next steps moving forward – I’m working on a 30th Reunion newsletter to share and highlight the time spent together at the reunion. Cast A ’93/’94 is considering the idea of a mid-reunion in Germany in 2-3 years time over the summer months. I’m currently on the search for additional ways to keep the cast connected and engaged!– Post-reunion update from Lisa