This is community theatre that melts your face. The Baltimore Rock Opera Society (which calls itself the BROS) brought their signature production Gründlehämmer to the Torpedo Factory Art Center, giving Old Town Alexandria glitz, mayhem, and some rowdy drama.
The thick program topped any edition of Playbill: it included not just each song’s lyrics, but also a map of “Brotopia,” the mythical land of the BROS. Brotopia is someplace between Middle Earth and Baltimore. The play’s aesthetic borrows heavily from the early days of Dungeons & Dragons, but with guitarists instead of elves and dwarves.
Is there something about Baltimore and rats? Remember the lyric “The rats on the street all dance ’round my feet” from Hairspray’s opener “Good Morning, Baltimore”? Gründlehämmer features a tender love scene that’s backlit by a shadow-puppet projection of four rats having an orgy.
Christopher Krysztofiak plays Benedon, the doofus farm boy who must find his destiny. In his way is the grotesque Gründle monster (Nairobi Collins), looking like a cross between the Hulk and a pile of green pudding with six arms. The scheming king Lothario (Greg Bowen, deliciously evil) won’t go down without a fight either, or at least without a battle of the bands.
Danielle Robinette amped up the energy with her Halvor character, leading the charge into the Gründle’s cave and spinning tales of the treasure that lies within. Derek Vaughan Brown is credited with playing unlucky Mammoroth, but steals the scene with a dance celebrating new love. Seriously, someone needs to get that man a stripper pole. Moira Goldie Horowitz was a welcome presence as Gunnora, embracing the awkward revelation about her life at the farm.
I had seen the BROS before at Artscape and the H Street Festival, but this was my first full-fledged play. If you like seeing the eternal battle of good vs evil played out with heavy metal and magic guitars, this is your show. More photos below.