All words and photos: Ben Droz
Imagine combining air guitar/guitar hero with a full length, opera. No, this is not Jack Black’s video game ‘Brutal Legend’. This is the completely original opera entitled ‘Grundle Hammer’
The performance of Grundlehammer can only be surpassed by the story of its own creation. Grundlehammer was the first production by a brand new group called the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, or, as they are called, BROS. BROS has a strong foundation of originality, creativity, and, love for beer. It was bros coming together and recognizing this inner bro-liness that led to what became, BROS.
“It began at a party one night when we were drinking beer and watching Apocolypto” recalls co-founder Eli Breitburg-Smith. “We decided we were going to write a Rock Opera about our apartment, which was to be known from there forwards, as ‘Brotopia’.” Three years and many beers later, Brotopia became a reality; or rather, it became a fictional account set around roughly the sixteenth century.
The plot of the story was as classic as any fairy tale can be. A young farmer boy sings songs to his love interest and dreams of better life. When his parents are killed by an evil monster named Grundle, he sets out to conquer the beast. He teams up with a former rockerstar and professional air guitarist named that trains him to be the greatest rockstar Brotopia had ever seen. In an epic guitar battle showdown reminiscent of Tenacious D, our young lad defeats the six armed, guitar wielding beast, and comes home to live with his fair maiden. But this was just the first hour and a half.
There is also an evil king, who has a gang of henchmen that come in periodically play death metal, as they strike fear into the peasants of Brotopia. Our gallant young warrior rises from the peasants as a leader, and must battle this band, and eventually, the evil king. Like every good fairytale, none of the evil characters are actually killed, they are only humiliated is a slapstick display of triumph over ignorance. Of course, the story ends happily ever after, sealed with a wedding and a PG-13 kiss.
The three hour performance was “non-stop entertainment”, as one audience member remarked. There was even a scene when a projection screen was brought out and there was a live shadow-puppet show. There were epic muscial numbers that rivaled any live metal show. There were always twists in the storyline, such as when the main character’s flirtatios sister turns out to not be his sister, and they make love on their parents gravestone. There were fog machines and strobe lights, dozens of deathtastic guitars, and, did I mention the Grundle Monster, played by three people and a giant Jubba the Hut costume?
While it may seem like I gave away important parts of the play, trust me, there is still soo much to be seen. It was sold out every show for good reason, and this is only the beginning. BROS Director Aran Keating says that, “…it’s going bonkers from here!” and is now open to any ideas, donations, or interested parties for the next production. Or, if you don’t want to be a BRO yourself, it’s definitely something to check out. And for the added experience, Saturday night with a six-pack of natty-boh.