Saturday, March 15, 2014

Barihunks in opera based on legendary football coach

Anlami Shaw and Gary Ramsey
We've seen all types of topics covered in this age of POPera and "CNN opera," from serious subjects like John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer to the somewhat outrageous like Mark- Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole and Richard Thomas' Jerry Springer: The Opera. Now we have an opera based on NFL coach Bum Phillips, who just died last year at the age of ninety.

Bum Phillips All-American Opera opens today at La MaMa in the New York City's East Village and runs through March 30. Tickets are available online. It then travels to Austin for performances at the Texas State History Museum.

Much like Anna Nicole, it mixes tragedy and comedy as it tells the story of the legendary coach with an oversized personality who led the now defunct Houston Oilers to a 55-35 record in the late 1970s, but never progressing beyond the AFC title game. Like Yogi Berra in baseball he was known for always delivering a memorable quote to the press, such as "There's two kinds of coaches, them that's fired and them that's gonna be fired."

The opera will star barihunk Gary Ramsey as Bum Phillips. Ramsey performs regularly with the DiCapo Opera in New York where he has performed in Hansel und Gretel, God Bless Us Everyone, Marriage of Figaro, Mr. Fantastic Fox, Turandot, La Centerentola and Carmen.

But what really caught our eye in a production that billed itself as not being the usual opera fare, was the aspiring baritone Anlami Shaw as running back Earl Campbell. A former pro track athlete who has done some modeling, he's been trying to develop a career in music. He's performed some musical theater, as well as appearing in the ensemble of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

We'd like to encourage him to continue his studies, as we'd love to see lots more of him in the future.

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