Bronté Barbé and Rebekah Hinds on taking 'Kathy & Stella Solve a Murder!' to the West End

Bronté Barbé and Rebekah Hinds star in this new musical about amateur sleuths Kathy and Stella, who become real-life detectives when they stumble across a murder.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

New British musical comedy Kathy & Stella Solve a Murder! is killing it. Jon Brittain and Matthew Floyd Jones’s show has thrilled audiences in Edinburgh (where it premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2022), Bristol, and Manchester, and now this big-hearted whodunit is coming to the West End.

The musical follows best friends Kathy and Stella, co-hosts of a true-crime podcast. When their favourite author is murdered nearby while tracking a serial killer, they seize the chance to crack the case themselves.

Key to the success of this criminally entertaining show is the chemistry between the two lead actresses, Rebekah Hinds (recently seen in Oklahoma!) and Bronté Barbé (Newsies). The pair are excited to reprise their winning friendship at London’s Ambassadors Theatre this month.

Tell us what the show is about and who you play

Bronté Barbé: It’s about two best mates doing what’s described as “Hull’s least-successful murder podcast” – so they don’t have a lot of listeners, but it’s their happy place. Finally they meet their favourite-ever author and present their work to her, but she pooh-poohs them. Then, that night, she gets murdered, and they decide to solve the crime themselves.

Rebekah Hinds: All of that happens in the first 20 minutes! It’s a brilliantly fast-paced show.

Barbé: It’s mainly about female friendship – it definitely passes the Bechdel Test.

Hinds: Kathy and Stella clearly don’t know life without each other, and they’re both outsiders, both vulnerable, but they’re very different. My character Stella makes you think she’s really confident, but she’s scared of losing her best friend.

Barbé: Whereas Kathy is a bookworm, introverted and socially anxious, who comes alive when she talks about true crime. Stella has been her constant throughout it all. But Kathy has a lot of untapped potential, so that’s the tension between them. Plus Kathy is the brains behind the podcast, whereas Stella wants to be famous.

How did you find the right tonal balance?

Hinds: It is very heightened, since we’re in the world of a musical, but then there’s real pathos. We’re not sending up the horrible things that actually happen to people, it’s more about women’s relationship with true crime, and because it’s stylised, we have moments in the morgue or with a severed head that are really funny.

Barbé: It’s so inherently Northern as a piece, and what we do in the face of adversity is turn to comedy.

Were you fans of true-crime podcasts?

Hinds: We were both more documentary fans, though I did listen to Serial. There’s also now the TV show Only Murders in the Building, which is about a podcast, so we have fans of that show who love Kathy & Stella.

Barbé: The interesting thing about podcasts is that you come to know these people so well. Likewise our two characters feel so detailed and layered and real – I think that’s what audiences find so joyous. Hinds: Yet at the same time, somehow, it’s like Scooby-Doo on acid!

How has the show developed over the years?

Hinds: We actually had to cut so much material for Edinburgh that when we then expanded the show’s length, it felt like it made sense to put everything back in again. It’s made it dramatically stronger. Now for this next iteration we’ve got new cast members and a new song – it just keeps getting better.

How would you describe the music?

Hinds: It moves through a lot of genres. There’s rock, pop, and if you know your musical theatre, you’ll recognise little hints at other shows, but it’s still completely unique. Matthew [Floyd Jones] has pulled a blinder.

Barbé: It’s clever and catchy, and the songs are crammed full with plot and humour, so you’ll enjoy it even if you’re not a devoted musicals fan. There’s an actual murder mystery to follow as well.

How does it feel to put this female friendship centre stage?

Hinds: There were times when I felt there wasn’t a place for women like me in musical theatre. It’s been incredible to explore these two as leading roles, not just as supporting comedy characters. Bronté and I have been able to do that from the start. Then it’s so rewarding to share them with the world.

Barbé: It feels like an ode to real women. I’d just worked with [Rebekah] on another show before this one, and reading the script I could hear her voice. I can’t imagine doing this with anyone else. I love that this show celebrates platonic friendships, in all their messiness and peaks, and troughs – they can be the loves of your life.

Are you excited about taking Kathy & Stella to the West End?

Hinds: We’re so proud. It’s new work, British work, Northern, women…

Barbé: It’s the dream, for everyone involved, to be in the West End. There’s been a lot of hard work – it’s tough getting new shows off the ground – but we’re super excited to bring it to more audiences.

Book Kathy & Stella Solve a Murder! tickets on London Theatre.

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Photo credit: Bronté Barbé and Rebekah Hinds in Kathy & Stella Solve a Murder! (Photo courtesy of production)

This article first appeared in the May issue of London Theatre Magazine

Originally published on

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