Fringe Sensation: Kathy and Stella Solve A Murder Musical Delights Audiences

Fringe Sensation: Kathy and Stella Solve A Murder Musical Delights Audiences

A murder mystery musical might seem like a challenging genre to master, considering even Stephen Sondheim struggled to crack it.

Despite various attempts, such as Curtains and Murder For Two, it was last year’s Fringe that brought the breakout success in the form of Kathy and Stella.

After receiving a wave of positive reviews, producer Francesca Moody, known for her involvement in Fleabag, has decided to bring back this delightful musical.

This time, it’s being presented in a larger venue and with an additional half-hour of runtime.

The success of this Hull-based true-crime-murder-mystery-cabaret-comedy-musical isn’t entirely surprising.

The talented writers behind it, Matthew Floyd-Jones and Jon Brittain, have both had individual successes.

Floyd-Jones is one half of the comedy duo Frisky and Mannish, while Brittain is the creator of Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho.

Unlike their previous collaboration, which explored the topic of depression, this time they’ve opted for a lighter theme.

The story follows Kathy and Stella, best friends from Hull who run a true crime podcast out of their garage.

When their favorite true crime author, Felicia Taylor, who solved the notorious Hull Decapitator case, is found decapitated herself, Kathy and Stella see an opportunity for fame and embark on a mission to unravel the mystery.

From the outset, the musical is filled with lively piano-led pop tunes, exuding cabaret vibes.

Accompanied by a two-keyboard setup, a drummer, and a bassist spanning the stage, the music keeps the momentum going throughout.

A notable aspect of the show’s direction, helmed by Brittain and Fabian Aloise, is its minimalistic approach.

With scarce set and props (except for the occasional severed head), the cast transitions seamlessly in and out, often clad in jumpsuits that help the audience imagine various settings.

The heart of the show lies in the friendship between Kathy and Stella, portrayed brilliantly by Bronté Barbé and Rebekah Hinds respectively. Their voices complement each other well, tackling Floyd-Jones’s challenging compositions with finesse.

Jodie Jacobs also delivers strong performances in multiple roles, including Felicia and her twin sister.

While the show can be interpreted as a commentary on the ethical concerns within the true crime genre, it primarily revolves around the dynamics of Kathy and Stella’s friendship and the engaging Scooby Doo-esque plot.

The production is a testament to the mastery of murder mystery musicals, having finally cracked the code after years of attempts.

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