Effort underway to bring 'Bum Phillips Opera' to the stage

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by Shern-min Chow / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on July 11, 2013 at 10:52 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 12 at 11:21 AM

HOUSTON -- As coach of the Houston Oilers in the 1970's, Bum Phillips won more games than any coach in franchise history. Now a Houston native is betting he can tell Bum’s story -- in an opera.

Football and opera don’t typically go together, but if the Arts Group can get another $3,500 in public donations by July 21, fans better grab their jerseys and opera glasses.

There's drama, suspense, triumph and music.

The opera is based on the life of legendary Oilers' coach Bum Philips. The idea was surprising for his son, Wade.

“We didn’t go to a whole lot of operas, unless there were horses involved,” Wade said.

Wade is a football guy too, credited with turning around the Texans defense. He is flattered about the interest in his dad.

He watched a clip of the opera.

“Okay, it's not in Italian,” Wade said. “That’ll be better for all of us.”

Luke Leonard is the director behind the project. He's living in New York now, but is a Houston native.

“I was born in 1975 when Bum became head coach of the Oilers,” Leonard said. “My mother even still owns a blue rabbit fur vest.”

Opera goers and football fans are not always in the same camp.

“And I think that needs to change,” Leonard said. “The music is the key. It’s for everyone.”

The goal is to turn “Bum Phillips” into a full opera from its current workshop status with a world debut in March 2014 in New York City.

“As long as it’s not in football season,” Wade said.

Bum, who lives out in Goliad, has given the project his blessing, but won't be joining the cast. The video link to the project includes a single statement from Bum.

“I can't sing a lick,” Bum said.

Click here for more information or to donate.

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