Musselburgh rallies to support Brunton Theatre Trust

Following the shock news of the temporary closure of performance spaces at The Brunton, the Theatre Trust reached out to venues in Musselburgh, East Lothian and beyond to source alternative spaces for their packed programme of community and professional events.

The Trust has been heartened by the response from venues from Musselburgh, into Edinburgh and across East Lothian offering support and space.

“This is not a scenario we could have imagined, just two weeks ago, but we now have performances taking place at Loretto School Theatre, North Esk Church, Musselburgh Grammar School and Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh. Where possible we are keeping our events in Musselburgh, as that is the home of The Brunton. It is no small task liaising with venues and companies to make sure their needs can be met and the staff at The Brunton have all pulled together with incredible versatility and creativity to overcome obstacles and forge new partnerships.

The Brunton is at the heart of cultural and community life in Musselburgh and is of vital importance to the town. It is recognised that attendance at and participation in the arts has a positive impact on wellbeing.”

Michael Stitt, Chair of Brunton Theatre Trust

Loretto School have linked with Brunton Theatre Trust. Their Theatre is situated off Millhill and is an ideal space for a lot of the community dance school bookings due to take place at The Brunton this spring. Musselburgh Amateur Musical Association’s show will also take place at Loretto School Theatre.

“When we heard the news about Brunton Theatre, our first concern was for the dance school families and community performers. We were very concerned at the thought of disappointing these families, so are absolutely delighted that Loretto School have come to our rescue. Their theatre set up is also ideal for some of Brunton Theatre Trust’s professional programme.”

Councillor Andy Forrest, Trustee of Brunton Theatre Trust

Brunton Theatre Trust has programmed a Christmas candlelit concert into North Esk Church for many years and this relationship is being further developed with the Bite-sized Concerts at Lunchtime series taking place there. Soup and a sandwich will now be served in the Church Hall with the concerts taking place in the Church.

“North Esk Church has a lovely, special atmosphere. The acoustics work really well for solo recitals, chamber music and larger ensembles, as well as other music styles. It is just over the road from The Brunton, so easily accessible for our audiences.”

James Waters, classical music programmer at The Brunton

Finding a venue to fit the large capacity of Venue 1 has been trickier, but thanks to the quick responsiveness of FES and staff at Musselburgh Grammar School, the Trust can now start to move some concerts into that school. Feedback from audience members who went to the A Vision of Elvis concert was very positive. The hall has flat seating with a raised stage, so good sightlines. For future concerts interval refreshments will also be available.

A night at The Brunton, for many people, also includes pre theatre supper at The Bistro. The Bistro remains open for business and is very much welcoming pre theatre diners as well as daytime customers for snacks and lunches.

“This situation was certainly a shock to our system but we are delighted that Brunton Theatre Trust have managed to keep so much of their programme in Musselburgh, so that our customers can still enjoy pre theatre suppers at The Bistro. We will make sure bookers get to their event on time and if needed will arrange transport to get them from The Brunton to their new venue in Musselburgh.”

Norma Buchan, owner of The Bistro at The Brunton

Rescheduling so many shows is a massive task, but the staff at The Brunton remain upbeat.

“We are grateful for the support and understanding shown to our staff from our customers, as they patiently await updates about events they have booked for. We appreciate that these changes are coming at short notice, however we will not cancel shows unless there is absolutely no other alternative. We are exploring all options possible and do not want to disappoint our customers.”

Lesley Smith, General Manager of The Brunton

Customers can keep up to date with what is happening by following The Brunton on Facebook and twitter, signing up for email bulletins and visiting the website .


Shows are not cancelled

Brunton Theatre Trust is bouncing back thanks to the support of performers, audiences, East Lothian Council and local partners.

The Trust was hit by devastating news that its performance spaces had to shut with immediate effect for structural surveys.

However, the programme of events has NOT been cancelled. The Trust is working hard to source and set up alternative venues for events, within Musselburgh and close by.

This weekend sees much loved Rob Kingsley return to Musselburgh with A Vision of Elvis. This sold out concert will now be performed at Musselburgh Grammar School on Saturday 25 March at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. The Bistro at The Brunton will be open for pre-concert dining with complimentary transport taking diners to the concert afterwards, if required.

The Trust’s very popular Bite-sized Concerts at Lunchtime series will be housed at the beautiful North Esk Church, across the road from The Brunton.

Several local dance company shows are now taking place at Loretto School Theatre. Other venues will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.

Michael Stitt Chair of Brunton Theatre Trust said:

“The Brunton’s programme of events is happening. We are asking audiences to please bear with us as we make arrangements for our events. We are working as quickly as we can. As this situation came about without any warning, some of our events this week have had to be rescheduled to new dates and we will update our customers as soon as we can confirm where and when they will be.

“We are so grateful for the support and understanding shown by the performers booked to come to The Brunton. Brunton Theatre Trust has a long history of staging professional arts and entertainment events out and about around East Lothian and we are now working with our partners to ensure that the shows will go on. Whilst we are devastated at the temporary loss of our space at The Brunton, we are feeling very upbeat about sourcing alternative venues for our programme.”

The Brunton’s performance spaces are within the larger Brunton Hall which is still open for Council services and the Trust’s box office. The Bistro at The Brunton is also still open for business and is a popular spot for lunch and snacks.

Rob Kingsley said:

“I have been performing sold out A Vision of Elvis concerts at The Brunton in Musselburgh for a number of years now. I’m from East Lothian, and I love coming back home. There was no way I was going to disappoint my fans and I’ve been working behind the scenes with the staff of Brunton Theatre Trust to make this happen. We are going to have an amazing show this Saturday at Musselburgh Grammar School, and are asking people support us to make this happen, we don’t want to cancel shows!”

Brunton Theatre Trust will continue to provide updates to bookers of their venue changes, as soon as they are confirmed.


Update from Brunton Theatre Trust

“East Lothian Council have informed us that further survey work needs to take place across all performance area roof spaces at The Brunton. Therefore we are currently unable to go ahead with planned events within The Brunton.

We are determined not to disappoint our customers or performers, therefore we will not be cancelling any of our programme at this stage. We ask you to please bear with us as we work to find alternative venues and dates for the events you are booked for, between now and June.

We will get back to you as soon as possible with more information.

Brunton Theatre Trust has a long history of staging professional arts and entertainment events out and about around East Lothian and we are now working with our partners to ensure that the shows will go on!”

Michael Stitt, Chair of Brunton Theatre Trust

Further to our recent update, structural issues have now been identified within the roof areas covering the Theatre and Venues 1 and 2 at the Brunton. From a safety perspective these areas now require to be closed to enable further survey work to be carried out. The offices and the Bistro are not affected and so remain open for use.

Until this survey work is completed, The Brunton Theatre Trust is committed to continuing with its programme. We are working hard to find alternative venues for our programme and we ask that you bear with us while we investigate all possible venues and dates with our partners and artists.

We will provide updates as they become available and will keep you informed of any changes to our programme, venues or dates.

For further information please contact our box office on 0131 653 5245 or email

Thank you for support and understanding at this very difficult time.

Best Wishes

The team at The Brunton


Roofing inspection causes temporary closure of Theatre space

“Brunton Theatre Trust has been advised by East Lothian Council that during planned roofing inspection work, structural issues have been identified within our Theatre space. This means that the Theatre space has been closed temporarily with immediate effect, whilst more detailed inspections are carried out. Audience members and groups with existing bookings are being contacted to discuss the options available.

Further inspection is being carried out in Venues 1 and 2, and the Council will let us know as soon as they can, whether this will have any impact on upcoming planned events in these areas.
The Bistro at The Brunton is unaffected by this and remains open as usual.

We will provide updates as soon as we have them, meanwhile we ask our customers to bear with us, as we work through this complicated situation.
Brunton Theatre Trust is committed to providing a diverse, high quality arts and entertainment programme of events and participatory projects within East Lothian. We will continue to work with our partners in the coming days to explore all options available for our programme, our audiences and our venue bookers to make sure that we continue to do this.”
Michael Stitt, Chair of Brunton Theatre Trust


Lothian kids to make a splash with deep-sea pantomime competition

The Brunton in Musselburgh has teamed up with the town’s East Coast Restaurant for the first time to launch a new festive pantomime competition with a nautical twist.

Children from across Edinburgh and the Lothians are being encouraged to make a creative splash by drawing or painting a colourful picture of their favourite deep-sea creature as part of The Brunton’s new festive show for 2022, Sinbad the Pantomime, which runs from 23 November until 31 December.

L-R Carlo Crolla (East Coast Restaurant), Betty Brunton (Graham Crammond), Cllr Andy Forrest (Brunton Theatre Trust) at East Coast Restaurant, Musselburgh

Families can look forward to seeing Sinbad’s voyages from Fisherrow Habour and over the sea, searching for fortune and finding romance with a runaway Princess-in-disguise. Along the way there will be nail-biting drama, dastardly pirates, riding on the back of a giant whale and ferocious deep-sea creatures guarding hidden treasure.

Taking inspiration from the story of Sinbad, children are now being encouraged to create an eye-catching picture of any sea creature they like, from whales and dolphins, to lobsters, crabs, starfish, seahorses or even a giant octopus by Monday 14 November.

A selection of competition entries will be displayed to the public at The Brunton. The overall winner will receive a complimentary VIP family ticket to see Sinbad the Pantomime at The Brunton, as well as a complimentary pre-theatre family meal at East Coast Restaurant on North High Street (*Terms & Conditions apply).

Sinbad the Pantomime is a new production, produced by The Brunton, written and directed by award-winning, professional writer and theatre maker, John Binnie. John’s writing and directing is hugely popular with Brunton audiences following Jack and the Beanstalk in 2018, Cinderella in 2019, Rapunzel the Pantomime family film in 2020 and back on stage with Hansel and Gretel the Pantomime in 2021.

The pantomime creative team includes set and costume designer Robin Mitchell, musical director Tommie Travers and Amy Robinson as choreographer. The costumes will be made by students of BA (Hons) Costume Design and Construction at Queen Margaret University.

“We’re really excited to be teaming up with East Coast to launch our ‘Sinbad the Pantomime’ picture competition for children across East Lothian, Edinburgh and beyond. We’re looking for fun, bold and bright pictures of deep-sea creatures to display to the public and help tell the story of Sinbad, so it’s a great opportunity for children to show off their creative flair.

The Brunton’s brand new production, Sinbad the Pantomime, is a festive treat, full of fun and laughter with oodles of gags, local references, much loved songs, outrageous costumes and shouting out! The Brunton specialise in producing fun and interactive pantomimes that are suitable for all the family, from ages 4 to 104 – the perfect place to escape to this winter.”

Michael Stitt, Chair of Brunton Theatre Trust

Owned by Carlo and Katia Crolla, East Coast is the next chapter for the Crolla family, who have been serving the honest folk of Musselburgh from its venue on North High Street for nearly 50 years.  East Coast, which is located just two minutes’ walk from Fisherrow Harbour and Musselburgh Beach, was crowned the ‘Best Seafood Establishment’ in Scotland at the Food Awards Scotland 2022.

“As an independent, family-run restaurant, we jumped at the chance to support our local community theatre and work together to launch a fun picture competition for children across the Lothians in the run up to the festive pantomime season. We wish everyone taking part in the competition the very best of luck and look forward to welcoming the winner and their family to East Coast as our special VIP guests.”

Carlo Crolla

To enter the Sinbad the Pantomime competition, children aged 7 to 12 years should send or drop in their deep-sea creature picture to: Marketing, The Brunton, Ladywell Way, Musselburgh EH21 6AF, marking their name and contact email and phone number by Monday 14 November. The winner will be notified soon after the closing date.

The Brunton and East Coast Restaurant visit date for the competition winner and their family of up to two adults and two children is subject to availability. All drinks and extras to be paid for as taken.

Tickets for Sinbad the Pantomime are available to purchase from The Brunton by calling 0131 653 5245 or online at

For more information on East Coast, visit

About Us

Celebrating 50 Years of Brunton Hall

Jane Corrigan, Front of House Manager at The Brunton, talks about her memories

What is your first memory of being at The Brunton?

That would be around 1974 when as a child, I attended Jean Reynolds dance classes and we had boards, in what are now our offices and did tap dance practice. I moved to Morag Alexander’s School of Dance and remember being on stage in the show. You think it will be scary but in reality you can’t see the faces in the audience because of the lights and you are listening to the music, concentrating on your dances and don’t get time to get stage fright!  I also came to The Brunton to see Mr Boom and a production of The Glass Menagerie by Byre Theatre Company in 1984, it was fabulous.  A friend’s big brother, Simon Tait, was in it and it was an amazing performance. 

You have worked at The Brunton since 1984. You must have lots of fun memories of working here?

I have lots of great memories. There have been some unusual occurrences – we have had a sheep, a donkey and a dog on stage!  I enjoy meeting all the different artistes and famous people and have been lucky enough to meet a variety of people including: Leo Sayer, Les McKeown, The Alexander Brothers, Alistair McDonald, Peter Morrison, Alvin Stardust, Anita Harris, Sydney Devine, Lee Mack, Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee, Jenni Éclair, Jason Donovan, Gordon Strachan, Judy Murray. Ron Coburn was memorable as he did entertainment shows for elderly in the community latterly but years ago used to do the panto. I still to this day remember him saying “Chase me, chase me, I’m the last Bus to Prestonpans!” and the words to “Ginger the Orangutan” – a song that was part of panto – they adopted Ginger at Edinburgh Zoo and had a collection after each show and helped pay for its upkeep.

The Brunton is taking shows to Musselburgh Racecourse this summer, but has a long history of putting on shows in other locations. What is it like looking after front of house out and about?

When Brunton Theatre was closed for refurbishment years ago, we took shows on tour round East Lothian and that was huge fun – transforming a hall or hotel ballroom into a theatre space.  

It’s been a learning curve for all since Covid.  For outside events, we have sanitiser, spare masks, wipes, track and trace code and clipboard and we have to set up outside spaces that are safe and suitable for performers and the public alike. We do a site visit in advance and on the day we set it up to enable people to sit socially distanced in their groups. We also need to dress for the Scottish weather so we don’t get cold/windswept/wet or burnt!

The Brunton is usually packed with shows year round, what have you missed during the pandemic closures?

While The Brunton has been closed due to Covid, I’ve missed seeing everyone – the patrons and the staff, as we are like a big family and I was concerned about how they would all be coping as everyone was having different things to deal with. I did meet one lady in the supermarket during lockdown, who comes to classical concerts and she was worrying about us at The Brunton and wanted to get back to see us all.  It’s moments like that that make it all worthwhile. It will be lovely to have our audiences and staff and performers all back together for live performances and events and for there to be the buzz about the place that makes it so special. 

What do you think makes The Brunton Hall such a special place?

The Brunton is special as it is at the heart of the community and contributes to everyone’s lives – whether they come to the building to pay their council tax, go to The Bistro, watch a live performance at the Theatre or Venues, or participate in one of our many classes. Music, dance, drama and the arts, reach parts of you that other things don’t and are good for the soul. 

In my job, I need to be able to react and be proactive. Over the years I’ve lent Jenny Éclair my hair curling brush and straighteners and went to get special tea for one artiste and borrowed an arm ironing board attachment for another! To be able to make it all come together and be successful is a huge achievement. I think sometimes you run on adrenaline – then at the end of the shift when everyone leaves, you are tired but feel you’ve had a successful day and evening – that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

Click here to find out more about The Brunton’s out and about programme this summer.

About Us

Meet John Binnie

Writer and director of Rapunzel The Pantomime – a family film

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been a writer/director since 1986, when I first began working with Clyde Unity Theatre. I love making theatre.I‘ve written over thirty plays, which I’ve toured nationally and internationally. I’ve made theatre in some fascinating places including New York, Singapore, Namibia and India. I so enjoy coming and doing pantomime at The Brunton. I previously did Jack And The Beanstalk and Cinderella.

John Binnie

Why Rapunzel?

I have always wanted to do a pantomime of Rapunzel. I love the idea of all her hair and being locked in a tower. However in a COVID world, the story struck a special chord. The character of Rapunzel is forced to self-isolate by the evil sorceress. Rapunzel has heard about the outside world and has longed to go there. Now she is scared of the disease. She doesn’t know about needing to wear masks.

Why is pantomime important?

Pantomime is joyful. It’s fun. Pantomime can have wild stories, larger-than-life characters and also heart. The best pantomimes allow the audience to join in, but also to feel. That’s when pantomime really works for me.

Rapunzel The Pantomime is a play but also a film. What were the challenges of writing and directing for this format?

The script needed to be fast and snappy. There’s no time for longueurs. Making a pantomime film is more collaborative, as Jonathan the filmmaker needs to edit the filmed scenes and come up with a new form. Obviously we miss live interaction, but the idea that the panto is going out to all these children and community groups in East Lothian and beyond, is a remarkable thing. I am very proud of being involved in it.

L-R, Ross Donnachie, Eilidh Weir, John Binnie. Photo: Robin Mitchell

This is a very strange year, but we have seen some amazing creativity with new productions filmed online and / or with social distancing. How have you responded creatively to this way of working?

It has been a challenge. At the beginning of the pandemic, I missed coming together with a company of actors and creatives to make a show. Actors are the most incredible people – they are so generous of their talent and time, helping to get a production on to the best of its ability. I’ve written more plays from home this year, and I am currently rehearsing a play on zoom. I hope to do some outside promenade performances in the warmer months of 2021.

Can you tell us any funny stories about the filming?

The day we did the chase around was wild. The Dame and her son Jammy Dodger would usually run around the audience and auditorium with a bucket of slops. Obviously we couldn’t do that under COVID restrictions. The Dame needed to get into full makeup at 7am, and then we took her and her son out onto Musselburgh High Street. Passers by on the street or at the bus stop were amazed and wanted to find out what was happening. When we ended filming at the harbour under beautiful weather conditions, mums with prams were surprised to see the dame chasing Jammy along the pier.

L-R, Ross Donnachie, Graham Crammond. Photo: Robin Mitchell

Enjoy Rapunzel The Pantomime at The Brunton Cinema, or watch online at home. Available selected dates December – January. More information here.

The Brunton has received funding from the Scottish Government’s Performing Arts Venue Relief Fund through Creative Scotland.

Donations of any size are invaluable to enable The Brunton to survive, thrive and continue to bring a programme of arts and entertainment to East Lothian and beyond. Donations can be made via The Brunton’s website.

About Us

About Us

A thriving music, theatre and dance venue with a strong community programme … one of Scotland’s best-run middle-scale receiving theatres.” The Scotsman

The Brunton, Musselburgh

Welcome to The Brunton. The Brunton is a vibrant theatre and community space in Musselburgh, the gateway to beautiful East Lothian. It is the place to be for the best in music, theatre, dance, comedy, children’s shows, film and lots more – all year round. Our state of the art Venue 1 allows us to offer even more entertainment as well as being available for private or corporate hire – the ideal space for bespoke wedding or conference packages.Children’s theatre company Catherine Wheels and dance company Room 2 Manoeuvre are the resident companies and the theatre also acts as venue 191 during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.