High class musical OC student scores big opportunity

OC vocal performance major Ryan Gonzales took his music education to new heights recently with the opportunity to write a musical for the Cherokee Nation.

The lyricist for the production, Janis Contway, wrote several musicals and plays based on the history of Edmond, the Oklahoma Land Run and more.

“When Janis got a solid draft of the words, she contacted Oklahoma Christian looking for someone who would be able to write the music,” said Ryan, a junior from Katy, Texas. “Dr. Kathy Thompson, the chair of our music department, asked if I was interested because I had been really enthusiastic in showing her some orchestra songs I had written.”

Contway decided to theme the musical around the Cherokee Trail of Tears. Ryan is composing the entire musical score.

“The style Janis is looking for is very unique. She wants the music to sound very Cherokee, with the water drums and Indian flute, etc. But she also wants to use a full orchestra,” Ryan said. “The hardest part of my job is to mix the two cultures of music together to create a ‘new genre of music,’ as she likes to put it.”

Ryan spent much of his summer vacation the past two years working on the musical (along with serving as a counselor at a Christian camp). His music has been a hit with Contway.

“I recorded the songs with me singing all the parts to show her what it could sound like with words and music together, and she fell in love with the way I brought to life what she had in her head,” Ryan said.

Ryan is thankful for all the opportunities he’s had at OC … and he’s made the most of them. He’s played lead roles in two musicals and in his first full-length play at Oklahoma Christian. He participated in OC’s 10-minute plays, the Valentine Cabaret, Spring Sing, the opera and one-act plays.

He says that everyone here has been encouraging, building his confidence and his love for his craft.

“OC is a place that opens doors to its students, and any high school graduate looking to go to college is going to encounter life-changing experiences here,” Ryan said. “I firmly believe that if students choose OC expecting something amazing, they are going to find amazing again and again.”

By Chelsi Rodriguez