As tradition dictates there was a panto dame, a hapless hero and plenty of audience participation. That perhaps is where most similarities to any other panto you’ve ever seen, end. But this free-to-watch, low-to-no-budget production, Jack and the Beer Stalk, was hugely energetic, heartwarming and so very uplifting. Of course, unique. Brentwood Brewery MD Roland Kannor, who acted as narrator, was solely responsible for the script. And most likely, all the corny jokes. As you might expect from Roland, they were plentiful.
Performed by an enthusiastic cast of brewery staff and friends, other roles included a hard-to-sell cow called Brexit, which the audience front rows soon learned had very leaky udders, a lumberjack (Andy Webb) and a talking bottle of Brentwood Gold, otherwise known as Goldie (Penny Hollington). The brewery’s own Statler and Waldorf Muppet Show theatre balcony critics, along with a host of extras, completed the cast.
(Losing) The Plot
The audience was taken on an entertaining journey which sees the fortunes of poor Jack (Head Brewer Ethan Kannor) and his rather eccentric mother (Brewery Manager Dean Beckwith) take a turn for the worse when Jack has one too many in the pub and sells the family cow, Brexit, for a bag of hops. Miraculously things do eventually turnaround for the family of craft brewers and the story culminates in a happy-ever-after ending for all.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any quirkier, the whole production was filmed by another cow, an over-sized Friesian in the front row, with the intention of live-streaming it on Facebook.
Familiar sing-a-long tunes with words written out for the audience to follow, with help from a large pointy stick, ably wielded by office manager Carol Tomsett, and some hilarious dancing from Jack’s Mum with help from a variety of other cast members, added to the fun.
One festival goer was spotted napping. But ten week old bulldog puppy Rubble can be excused for falling asleep on his owner’s shoulder.
Beer Elves Were Busy
Good Elf, Elf ’n’ Safety and Elf ’n’ Happiness behind the bar served those who bought participation tickets for the panto with a variety of six different Brentwood ales at the appropriate moments throughout the show.
Included in the participation ticket price was a donation to Warley-based charity Special Needs and Parents (SNAP). The charity also had a stall at the Brewery’s Christmas Beer Festival on Saturday (8th December) which is when the panto took place. SNAP volunteers were kept busy selling the charity’s Christmas cards and raffle tickets as well as running games and competitions for children of all ages.
JW Ice Cream Company
There were mince pie flavoured ice cream samples to try in the short interval, supplied by J W Ice Cream Company, specialist alcoholic ice cream makers based at Chafford Hundred (www.jwicecreamcompany.ltd). The company also had a popular stall at the festival, serving ice cream tasters and selling individual tubs of their delicious products.
Shenfield Operatic Society
Earlier in the day, members of Shenfield Operatic Society came along with their Musical Director Alli Smith to sing Christmas carols to festival goers and to promote their latest show, All Shook Up, which runs at The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch 30th Jan – 2nd Feb. Along with lots of popular, traditional carols, the group gave a hearty rendition of The Twelve (Brentwood) Beers of Christmas. (See the video – in the brewery’s next blog post.)
If you happened to miss the panto, (and it really was an amusing sight to behold) there are whispers of another possible panto production next year. Let’s raise a glass to that.
Roland and the Brewery Team would like to thank everyone who came along to watch, participate and perform in the panto. Special thanks go to our local CAMRA group and Brewery Liaison Officer Beryl, Shenfield Operatic Society, SNAP charity, JW Ice Cream Company and Lillypuds, as well as all visitors to the Christmas Beer Festival.