HARROGATE Theatre's pantomime, Beauty And The Beast, will take a trip to France in a super-magical adventure from December 6 to January 21.

"Join us as we follow enchanting Belle and the troubled Beast, a prince who has been placed under and evil spell for a hundred years," says Phil Lowe, who is directing his 11th Harrogate panto. "If the Beast can learn to love and be loved in return, then the spell will be broken and he will return to his true self but time is running out!"

Crowd favourite Tim Stedman will return for his 18th year in Harrogate's silly-billy role, this time as Muddles. By contrast, Maisie Bawden will make her Harrogate Theatre debut as Belle after performing in 35MM, A Musical Exhibition, at The Other Palace, London, and as Adriana in The Tempest at Stratford Gatehouse Theatre.

Tom Bainbridge will play The Beast, on the back of a storming British tour of Billy Elliot The Musical, and Phil Stewart, who has previous form for Harrogate pantos, will be the extravagant dame, Pam au Chocolat.

The role of Baron Bon Bon will go to Ross Waiton, re-uniting with Stewart after their time together in Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time.

Katy Dean will add to her Harrogate panto repertoire by filling the villain's boots as Mona Lisa. She has several Harrogate credits to her name, playing both baddies and goodies, latterly in a stint as Queen Rat in last winter’s Dick Whittington and earlier as Belle in the last Beauty And The Beast six years ago.

Looking forward to taking to the Harrogate stage again, she says: "It’s such a good job. Seeing the look on the children’s faces when they're watching the show is very fulfilling."

Mind you, she is not looking forward so enthusiastically to the inevitable tiredness: "In the run-up to Christmas, we do a two-week stint with two shows a day. By the time Christmas Day comes you’re exhausted," she says. "I once fell asleep at the dinner table at my brother’s on Christmas Day!"

Once again, the show's dancers will come from a range of dance and secondary schools, with seven of the 12 this season being students at St Aiden's CE High School in Harrogate.

Behind the scenes, Harrogate Theatre chief executive David Bown and director Phil Lowe are the scriptwriters for a ninth year; Nick Lacey returns as musical director; Sophie Zealand is the choreographer and Richard Foxton, the set and costume designer.

Ticket availability for all December's performances is "very limited". Book online at harrogatetheatre.co.uk or on 01423 502116.