Houston man raising funds to produce Bum Phillips Opera

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - When you think of former Houston Oilers head coach and general manager Bum Phillips, opera is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

But a Houston man is leading a grassroots effort to share the legend of Bum with audiences worldwide.

Bum Phillips is a household name in Houston as the winningest coach in Oilers franchise history. He's known as much for his cowboy hat as his wry sense of humor.

But opera? Not so much.

Don't tell that to Cypress Creek High School graduate Luke Leonard.

 "It really doesn't seem that odd to me," said Leonard. "Football is epic. Opera is epic."

Leonard spoke to Local 2 from his New York studio where he's producing the Bum Phillips Opera based on the football legend's autobiography, "Cowboy, Coach, Christian."

"We saw an opportunity to bridge a big gap between sports culture and arts culture which are really not that different in terms of the discipline it takes to be a performer, teamwork, loyalty," said Leonard.

Leonard even made the trek to Goliad, where Bum and his wife live, to get the former coach's blessing,

"He thought it was a hoot that we were making an opera about him, but he couldn't sing a lick," Leonard recalled.

The Bum Phillips Opera is still shy of its $10,000 fundraising goal, so Leonard's non-profit theater troupe, Monk Parrots http://www.monkparrots.org/, has launched an online campaign through USA Projects. http://www.usaprojects.org/project/bum_phillips_2014_world_premiere_opera

"I know that future generations are going to be performing this," said Leonard. "After our production, I'm sure there's people wanting to get their hands on it and share it with their communities and hopefully even maybe around the world."

June 30 is the deadline to raise the funds needed to get the production off the ground.

All donations are tax deductible.

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