Part of my position as a Program Advisor for BU Orientation this summer was to be the Skit Director, a job that required me to write and direct a 30 minute sketch comedy to be performed 5 times for 4,400 incoming BU students.
Thus, “XOXO, Rhett” was born.
It tells the story of Kyle fighting to keep his secret safe, but needs the help of fairy god-doggie Rhett once Gossip Girl threatens to reveal his secret to all of BU’s campus. Of course there’s a dance sequence thrown in there for good measure, as well.
But the creation of Kyle’s story definitely was not formed so easily. At first, Kyle was going to stuck on BU’s campus, finding that all of the buildings were disappearing by some imaginable power, and he would have to find some sort of central control on campus to stop the destruction.
However, that felt too dystopian and the world has seen too much of that on the big screen and in itself recently. I decided to stray away from a “theme,” per se, and focus on the individual that Kyle always was to me: insecure, scared, filled with latent talents, and harboring confidence way beneath the surface of his skin. The struggle was, how can I create a world for Kyle that can showcase all of that, and still be relatable to the new BU students that were going to watch his journey as he got to campus? He couldn’t be a wimp, but he also couldn’t instantly be this macho character everyone fell in love with.
I decided on giving Kyle a secret superpower. That way, he could in need of being confident but still too insecure to let anyone in the knowing of his secret. It directly mirrors anyone’s first year at college, as any student has hidden, amazing talents (or, “superpowers”) but don’t exactly know if people will accept them for who they are.
The obvious threat to this situation is obviously the possible reveal of Kyle’s power. I won’t delve into the plotline, as that would spoil the whole show! However, the creation of Gossip Girl felt like a relatively powerful and additional evil that all students could relate to. Whether you’ve seen the show or not, practically everyone has heard a reference to Gossip Girl. She’s a gossip menace, the last thing Kyle wants to deal with.
The whole peak to this mountain comes with the final dance routine, set to a song I again won’t spoil here (sorry!) but fits the situation perfectly. Turns out, even Gossip Girl has her own secret. I thought this would send a powerful (and entertaining) message that, again, everyone has their own hidden talents and fears, and confidence only comes from embracing them. Communicating them. Being you.
(There are more animations and inserts that the YouTube footage doesn’t cover, as there were large screens next to the stage to portray them, and obviously not everything could fit on the stage.)
I just want to thank my cast and crew from the bottom of my heart for making this possible, most especially my Director of Orientation, Shiney James, for giving me the opportunity to put a bit of my heart onto that stage. Everyone worked enormously hard to get to this final product, and I think it damn well paid off.
Written, casted, directed, and produced by Chris Roys.
Filmed by Jim Russell and Tami Gabriely. Edited by Jim Russell.
Animations and inserts filmed & edited by Chris Roys and Jim Russell.
KYLE performed by Michael Aniolek
RHETT performed by Ally Dawson
GOSSIP GIRL performed by Jessie Torrance
PETER performed by Ross Huston
CHELSEA performed by Quanesha Boykins
LAUREN performed by Francesca Coveno
ZACH performed by Swanson Ninan
COUGAR performed by Sam Sarkisian
DEAN ELMORE performed by Dean Elmore
MS. DARCY performed by Jenna Blinkinsop
BATSY performed by Jesann Prashaw
PROFESSOR performed by Joe Reed
LIAM performed by Zach Costello
ZANE performed by Grant Bachhuber
JESS performed by Hillary Caplan
COOPER performed by Sam Hoffman
Michael Aniolek, Ally Dawson, Ross Huston, Quanesha Boykins, Francesca Coveno, Swanson Ninan, Sam Sarkisian, Jessie Torrance, Jesann Prashaw, Hillary Caplan, Sam Hoffman, Haejee Park, Nicolette Maggiolo, Lauren Bufe, Stephanie Gianni, Meg Poulin, Collin Kelly, Mike Parello, Jamie Bloom, Dani Rives, Gina Vitentti, Erin Snyder, Natalie Russo, Annie DuBois, Elizabeth Agneta, Jeray Thelwell, Stephanie Hill, Rachel Jensen, Kerissa Kow, Jun Tsuboike, Paige Machado, Sarang Shah, Kate Aspinwall
Rachel Jensen, Kerissa Kow, Jun Tsuboike, Paige Machado, Sarang Shah, Thomas Andrews, Jean Carlos DeJesus, Mike Parello, Jamie Bloom, Dani Rives, Gina Vitentti, Erin Snyder, Natalie Russo, Annie DuBois, Elizabeth Agneta, Jeray Thelwell, Stephanie Hill, Collin Kelly
Nicolette Maggiolo, Allen Li, Lauren Bufe, Mariah MacKenzie, Tom Honsinger, Nicole Enriquez, Alex Bruno, Tate Gieselmann, Hersh Bendre, Beata Coloyan, Stephanie Gianni, Meg Poulin
CHOREOGRAPHY: Jesann Prashaw, Haejee Park
RUNNERS Mariah MacKenzie, Paige Machado, Mo Brodeur, Ghita Benslimane