By Maureen Lee Lenker
June 17, 2020 at 08:48 PM EDT
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The cast and crew of Even Stevens had a virtual reunion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the beloved Disney Channel series, which ran for three seasons from 2000 to 2003.

Much of the core cast joined in, including Christy Carlson Romano who played perfectionist Ren, Nick Spano who played older brother Donnie, and Tom Virtue, who portrayed dad Steve Stevens. Notably, star Shia LaBeouf was absent from the celebration, and Spano said they had reached out, but he was unavailable

The reunion brought together not only the cast, but many members of the crew and writing team, including casting director Jen Tomasick and members of the hair and make-up teams.

Much of the reunion was dedicated to the cast and crew catching up with each other, while reminiscing about occasional production memories. Steven Anthony Lawrence, who portrayed annoying neighbor "Beans," told the story of his casting and revealed that his iconic "pirate" joke was actually his own joke that he told during his audition.

For most, the consensus seemed to be that the musical episode "Influenza" was a team favorite. Jim Wise, who recurred as Coach Terry Tugnut, actually wrote the music and lyrics for the episode. He brought a guitar, and the cast, led by Romano, attempted to sing a rendition of "We Went to the Moon" in spite of Zoom cueing issues.

The writers did note that another Disney Channel hit from the same era Lizzie McGuire received more funding and merchandising, which led Romano to refer to the show as an "ugly step-child" in Disney's eyes. However, Romano reflected on the quality of the show, which partially arose from creative freedom, citing things like LaBeouf's gift for improvisation. The creators and producers agreed that part of the secret to the show's success was the fact that they flew under the radar and were able to do what they wanted without extensive oversight.

David Grace, a producer on the original series, revealed that he actually had a cameo in LaBeouf's semi-autobiographical 2019 film Honey Boy. Grace plays a version of himself on the set of the children's TV show that Otis (Noah Jupe) works on, offering Otis feedback when he passes by craft services. Spano also addressed the fact that Honey Boy reflected a more negative view of the set, but wanted to stress that "there was nothing but a great sense of community and family on Even Stevens."

In between catching up, the team reflected on everything from their favorite memories on-set to their audition stories to where they think the characters would be now. For the record, once bacon-obsessed Beans is now a vegan and Ren indulged her dreams as a moonlighting karaoke star and became a professional singer.

Watch the video above for more.

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