It's here! Harrogate’s annual family panto started this week and it already looks like being the theatre's biggest sold-out box blockbuster box office hit so far.
It helps, of course, when local panto legend Tim Stedman is in the cast for the 18th year running and that much of the dancing talent is provided by Harrogate schoolchildren.
Harrogate Theatre’s associate director Phil Lowe said: “Last year’s panto was a record breaker so it was hard at first to know how we follow that but we will certainly do our very best.
“We can’t wait to show audiences what’s up our sleeves for this year.”
Running at Harrogate Theatre from Wednesday, December 6 to January 21, Beauty and the Beast will see Phil return for the 11th year as co-writer, as well as director, with the theatre’s chief executive David Bown.
The long-running partnership has been phenomentally successful over the last decade.
Back in the mid-Noughties, Harrogate Theatre panto would sell around 24,000 tickets .
Now it’s nearly 10,000 more than that and still rising.
The duo have been credited with creating a truly family-friendly event which spurns other pantos’ focus on celebrities and adult humour.
Beauty and the Beast promises to take audiences on a magical trip to France where the plot will follow the enchanting Belle and the troubled Beast – a prince who has been placed under and evil spell for 100 years.
Phil said: “As ever it’s about fun for all the family and absolutely everyone has a great time from age three to 103.
“We’ve got a first class cast again this year – some new faces and some familiar ones.
“We are delighted to welcome back audience favourite Tim Stedman as Muddles for his incredible 18th pantomime in Harrogate.
“What would the Harrogate pantomime be without Mr Stedman?”
Once again this year’s dancers come from a range of local dance and secondary schools, with seven of the 12 dancers being students at St Aidan’s CE High School.
Beauty and the Beast runs at Harrogate Theatre until January 21.