• Gillian Russo


Updated: Dec 11, 2019

Alternatively titled: "I Kind of Just Had the Best Day Ever"

You might recall from my last blog post that I recently saw a little show called Our Dear Dead Drug Lord. If you follow me on social media, you'll definitely recall that I've seen it five more times since, the most recent being on Dec. 8. I was excited anyway, as I always am before returning to the treehouse (a.k.a. the WP Theater). I was about to see one of my new favorite plays front-row, my friend Marina was coming along (for her second time), and it was a welcome break from studying for finals.

I didn't realize the full extent of the excitement that lay in store for me that night. Like Drug Lord itself, the much-unexpected happened.

Among the multiple people that walked by us to get to their seats, I recognized one: Cristina Angelica, one of the show's cast members. And she stopped in front of me.

It's worth noting at this point, if you don't follow me on Instagram, that I post on my story every time I see a show. So I've posted about this one six times now, and I've always tagged the play's official account. They've seen it and reposted it on their own story each time, and I often wondered if, at some point, they began to recognize my handle. And then...

"Are you Gillian?" Cristina asked. I said yes. As if that alone wasn't enough to floor me, she then pulled out two bags, each containing a drinking glass emblazoned with a line from the show, and handed them to us. They were gifts - opening night gifts, no less, presumably what the cast and crew received three short months ago. I couldn't believe it.

Our subsequent conversation was brief, but it ended with a hug and included some version of "thank you for seeing the show so many times; we're so glad to have you, and you're a part of our girl gang." Not going to lie to you, I came close to happy tears. I could think of no higher compliment. (Sidebar for those who know the play: If I were inducted into the club, what do you think my name would be? Drop a comment.)

And believe it or not, the night got better.

The show itself, of course, was fantastic. The dance scene still gives me chills no matter how many times I see it, compounded this time by the high I was riding on after that utterly generous pre-show interaction with Cristina. During the curtain call, I caught a couple of the cast members' eyes, and they smiled. Wait.. was that at me? Did they all know who I was? As Marina and I began to exit the theater, we were about to find out.

"Hi, guys! I'm so glad to finally meet you!"

No, that's not a quote from me. Who else was walking down the stairs but Malika Samuel - Squeeze herself. She said that to me, as did all the other three main actresses, as we'd soon run into each of them. (To which I responded each time, in shock, "Me? That's what I'm thinking about you!")

As Malika, Marina and I chatted for a bit, Malika said something else I won't forget: "There were a lot of funny parts in tonight's show that not a lot of people laughed at, but in our dressing room, we were just saying, 'It's okay, Gillian got it, she understood.'"

Guys, I got name-dropped in their dressing room. As Marina put it, "You've become a dressing room inside joke." I don't think I've laughed, nor smiled, harder in a long time. Like, c'mon. That's the greatest thing ever.

Carmen Berkeley (Pipe) and Rebecca Jimenez (Kit) came through next. Also such kind people. We basically spent most of it talking about how much we all appreciated each other, which basically sums up the whole night and the wholesome, kind energy it encapsulated. We talked about college a bit, too. As a theatre student myself, it's always inspiring to see recent grads doing great things in the industry. Like I said last night, Carmen and Rebecca, you have a supporter in me for life (everyone involved in this play does).

Finally, Alyssa May Gold greeted us with an "OMG HI" that would rival Zoom in excited energy. I admired her purple coat and we discussed the staying power of her blue hair, and she wished us luck on finals (thank you, Alyssa, I'll need it - I should be studying for them as I write this). As we parted ways, she said, "Let us know when you come back!"

I feel like I've been inducted into something, something supportive and fierce and wonderful. I hope this isn't the last time I cross paths with the girl gang, and I can't wait for the next club meeting.

Bonus (contains mild spoiler): We also met Winter, the show's youngest cast member. Her dad was with her, and he told her to "show them the thing," which Marina and I assumed would be reciting a line or doing a dance move from the show. We almost died of cuteness when instead, she said, "All my talent, I got from my dad."

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