Jack And The Beanstalk, Harrogate Theatre, until January 20 2019. Box office: 01423 502116 or at harrogatetheatre.co.uk MEET Jacqueline Trott, or Jack for short. Jack used to be the principal boy played by a thigh-slapping actress, with the character always referred to as “he”.

Not any more in Harrogate. Jack has fully converted to the distaff side; the thigh remains unslapped and Harriett Hare is very much a young woman playing a plucky young woman. And splendid she is too, full of fun throughout, as pantomime moves with the times, and rightly so.

The “star turn” in his 19th Harrogate panto – where have the years gone?!– is Tim Stedman, this time cast as a supersonic, super-sporty Simon Trott, who equips himself with a hand-clapping football chant to greet his every entry and cracker gag. To mark Harrogate’s present sporting status, he has a Harrogate Town shirt for one sleeve, a polka-dotted cycling top for the other, finished off with one cricket pad for maximum clowning effect.

Stedman is a nimble physical comedian in the tradition of a Chaplin or a Harold Lloyd but he is verbally quick witted too, accentuated by his squeaky voice and jutting jaw. If you have never seen him, why not? He leads a show with all the aplomb of a Berwick Kaler or Billy Pearce.

Back for his ninth Harrogate pantomime is Howard Chadwick, a roly-poly, rumbustious Dame Tilly Trott, who parades a series of spectacular, humorous frocks, bonds wonderfully with Stedman and is a hit with adults and children alike with assorted sassy quips.

Christina Harris heads up north to Harrogate to be a bonny, zestful Princess Jill, and her rendition of of The Greatest Showman’s This Is Me goes down well with the younger audience members. The cast for Harrogate’s pantomime is always compact: six principals, plus two understudies on Buttercup the Cow duty this year (Alice Barrott and Naail Ishaq), and a four-strong team of young dancers at each show.

This makes doubling up all the more important, with Polly Smith and George Telfer both in terrific form; she switches from a trad Fairy of the Forest to a canny caricature as the Scottish Morag the Cook, working for the Giant, in the manner of Julie Walters’ Mrs Overall or Pauline McLynn’s Mrs Doyle in Father Ted. Telfer manages to give more spark than he deserves to one of pantoland’s dullest baddies, Fleshcreep, and his King Bumble is good company too; best of all, he brings the house down when playing both of them at once.

Following in the footsteps of the dazzling Foxton, Morgan Brind has come up with top-notch set designs. Look out for a road sign that points to the Audience, a typically witty touch.

Nick Lacey’s musical direction and Sophie Zealand’s choreography have panache, and the writing team of director Phil Lowe and David Bown have excelled again, sprinkling pantomime gold dust across Harrogate once more, puppet beanstalk climb and all.

Jack And The Beanstalk, Harrogate Theatre, until January 20 2019. Box office: 01423 502116 or at harrogatetheatre.co.uk