THE true crime podcast has become a hugely successful genre in its own right. But a musical based around a true crime podcast, now that’s taking it to extremes.

Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! was one of the surprise hits at the Edinburgh festival in 2022. It returned this year and garnered even more praise.

Now the show is at Home in Manchester for a two-week run.

For Bronté Barbé, who plays Kathy, it’s the perfect way to round off an adventure which started 18 months ago.

“From the moment we read the first draft of the show, the material was so good it took us by surprise,” said the Macclesfield-born star. “I was initially invited to workshop it and I thought I’d have a go but it was hysterical, so quick and so clever.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Bronte Barbe and Rebekah Hinds in Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder (Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic)

Kathy and Stella are true crime devotees from Hull who have their own fictional podcast. When their favourite author is murdered the pair decide to engage their inner sleuths.

The version of the show being brought to Home is an expanded version of the original Edinburgh show.

“It’s actually quite hard work,” said Bronte, “but it’s great fun to be part of. There are only eight of us in the cast and it’s a full size musical. I think there are something like 25 songs in the show but it’s all so accessible.

“It sounds bizarre but it doesn’t feel as though we are singing a lot of it because it is so chatty and because it’s set in Hull it has that northern lilt to it - it’s a train that you can’t get off.”

Bronté stars alongside Rebekah Hinds who plays Stella and it’s the relationship between the two podcasters turned detectives which is a key reason for the show’s success said Bronté.

“I think in many ways it is a show about female friendship,” said Bronté. “I do think the audience sees their own friendships in the relationship between Kathy and Stella. It is messy, it’s very human, they fall out, they speak their minds and it’s both clunky and amazing at the same time.

“You don’t see a lot of stories about female friendships being told in that way.”

As well as being a musical, Bronté was keen to stress the show is also incredibly funny.

“True crime is very current at the moment but this isn’t just a show for true crime lovers, that’s just a thread that holds it together.

“We’ve coined this phrase that it’s tongue in cheek and heart on sleeve. There is a lot of comedy but there is also lot of truth in there too which is very relatable.

“In a way we are creating our own type of musical theatre.

“A lot of people hate musical theatre and I get that, it’s not for everybody but we’ve had so many people come and say ‘it’s not usually not my thing but having seen the show I want to watch it again’. We’re so grateful to have had such amazing reactions.”

The show will be the first opportunity for Bronté to play in Manchester since 2017 when she was in Beautiful the Carol King Musical.

“Coming from Macclesfield I’ve always regarded Manchester as my home city and I’m so excited to be coming back, especially with this show,” she said.

Bronte comes to the show after a starring role in the Disney production Newsies in London’s West End.

“At one point we were rehearsing Kathy and Stella during the day and then I’d be on stage in Newsies at night which was a little bit crazy,” she said. “I’d never had that before but I’m 10 years into my career now and it’s where I always dreamed of being. It’s been a kind of ‘pinch me’ year particularly after Covid when I wondered if I’d ever act again.”

Kathy and Stella officially comes to the end of its run at Home but are we likely to see more of the production?

“I think we’re all in denial that we’re coming to the end,” said Bronté. “But who knows, it’s all in the hands of the theatre gods.”

Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder!, Home, Manchester, until Saturday, October 21. Details from