AMID this year’s interminable Brexit discourse and discombobulation, Harrogate Theatre’s pantomime has cast a late vote to remain in Europe. Or in France, more precisely, for Phil Lowe and David Bown’s re-telling of Beauty And The Beast.

French shop signs, the Tricolore on proud parade, the Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue des Champs-Élysées all feature in Foxton’s beautiful designs; Ross Waiton’s bonkers inventor Baron has the surname Bon Bon; Katy Dean’s villain, moaning Mona Lisa, is a hip-speaking Paris fashion designer, and Phil Stewart’s dame is a pastry chef, Pam Au Chocolat.

Belle (Maisey Bawden) was already Belle of course; the Prince/Beast (Tom Bainbridge) still changes everything but the names, and no-one could ever meddle with Muddles, crowd favourite Tim Stedman’s role in his 18th year as the silly-billy fulcrum of Harrogate’s pantomime.

With beaucoup de jokes tres full of fromage, mais not too fruity, Stewart’s ‘Allo ‘Allo! French-accented Pam au Chocolat is entrusted with setting the scene in no little detail, playing the confidante/narrator in a knowing manner not dissimilar to the late Gorden Kaye’s Renee Artois. Albeit in dame mode, with a series of exquisitely detailed costumes.

By the time the helium-voiced Stedman makes his Bonjour/Enchanté entry for the first of a series of daft magic tricks, we have learned already that the Prince has been transformed into the Beast under Mona’s curse, and Stewart has established himself as a serious rival to Stedman as the show’s most watchable character.

Lowe, in charge of his 11th Harrogate panto, and regular writing partner Bown write superbly for both, and amid the merriment, mayhem and slapstick, all the while they respect the need for proper, fairytale storytelling that casts its own magical spell on the audience in the relationship of Bainbridge’s impeccably mannered Beast and Harrogate Theatre panto debutante Bawden’s rose of a Belle.

Their duet of Take That’s Greatest Day for the first act’s climactic transformation scene, spectacular costume change and all, really is a case of watching the world come alive tonight. Beautiful, exhilarating, and all this done with a cast of only six principals – one fewer than last year – and four dancers.

The cast are all terrific value; Stedman with his word-muddling verbal and physical dexterity, mischievous audience rapport and now obligatory quickfire reprise of the entire show; creme de la creme dame Stewart with his comic timing and eloquence; and Waiton being tres bon bon as the boffin Baron.

Bainbridge brings out the best in the Beast; Dean, who played Harrogate Theatre’s Belle six years ago, channels The Devil Wears Prada into Mona and Bawden reveals a magnificent set of soulful singing pipes to go with Belle’s pluck.

Restricted to keyboards and drums, Nick Lacey’s musical direction defies such potential limitations with flamboyant playing, energetic arrangements and a cracking choice of songs from across the pop years, while the new Sophie Zealand makes a zestful debut as the choreographer. Exit Brexit, vive la France, this Parisian panto is magnifique.

Beauty And The Beast, Harrogate Theatre, until January 21 2018. Box office: 01423 502116 or at