HARROGATE Theatre chief executive David Bown can sleep well in the knowledge that Sleeping Beauty raises the spa town’s pantomime bar even higher.

Like Dame Berwick Kaler’s home-grown shows at York Theatre Royal, Bown and his panto co-writer, the show’s director Phil Lowe, construct brilliant scripts tailored to the strengths of the individual players, in this case a cast of only seven (plus young dance ensembles divided into Team Slumber and Team Snooze).

Rather than being a “traditional pantomime” – whatever that means these days – it is better to say that Harrogate has built up its own traditions, led off by the dazzlingly dextrous, word-spinning buffoon Tim Stedman in his 14th year as the very silliest of silly Billies, Silly Sidney, the court jester.

Stedman has built up a heap of his own routines: the cracker-quality, groan-worthy one-liners; the muddling up of words in an order that still makes sense; the rushing around the theatre, even taking a kip in the dress circle.

Best of all is his set-piece in the second half, reprising everything that has gone before in the plot at breakneck pace with physical actions worthy of a silent comedy star.

Why Stedman has never been snapped for children’s television is a mystery, but let’s just be thankful that he keeps putting the funny ha-ha into Harrogate year after year.

Stedman is also a fantastic team player, bringing out the fun in all his colleagues, including some comic sparring with Amy Walsh’s Princess Aurora that ends up with him impersonating Eric Morecambe.

The big hit this year, after making his Harrogate debut last Christmas in Jack & The Beanstalk, is Philip Stewart, who goes back to the Seventies like TV’s Life On Mars. His Good Wizard Roy is a spoof of glam-rock hippie Roy Wood of Wizzard, face paint, star glasses, huge boots and all.

You may think it would be a risk to reactivate old Roy, given that children may well not know him, but Stewart’s Brummie dude caricature is so fabulously larger than life and gloriously entertaining that both young and those who remember See My Baby Jive enjoy him equally.

His pay-off line to Walsh’s second character, a reet Yorkshire-speaking Mother Shipton, will not be topped this Yorkshire pantomime season.

Steve Huison’s knock-kneed King Keith bonds well with Chris Clarkson’s Dame Nanny Annie Nidderdale, whose costumes by designer Foxton are worthy of a catwalk show on their own, especially the headless knight and the map of the world.

Lindsay Sciliano’s Carabosse is dark and dastardly and Katy Dean’s Tom Nidderdale reminds you why there is still a place for the thigh-slapping principal boy. Lowe and Bown, as original as ever, even give her Liam Neeson’s often-quoted phone speech from Taken, as left-field a piece of pantomime dialogue as your reviewer has ever heard.

From the “Mary Berry” baking machine to musical director Nick Lacey’s madrigal version of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven; from the honking car-horns routine to the Tour de France reference; from Stedman astride a giant squirrel to a Torvill and Dean Bolero send-up, Sleeping Beauty never rests in its quest for laughter, fun and silliness.

Sleeping Beauty, Harrogate Theatre, until January 12 2014. Box office: 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk