Brunton in Musselburgh reopens after £3.7m revamp

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The Brunton in Musselburgh has reopened its main hall after a £3.7 million upgrade to create a flexible performance space.

Retractible seating gives the hall a capacity of more than 500 seated for film, music, dance and comedy events, with around 800 standing - depending on fire regulations. The hall will also be available for community and conferencing use, seating up to 400.

Lesley Smith, principle arts officer with East Lothian Council, which owns the complex, told The Stage: "The acoustics were really poor and one of the main aims was to create a hall which could support a variety of events with the best acoustics possible."

Acoustic panelling has been installed and the hall roof lowered to improve acoustics, while a retractible lighting rig has been installed above the stage together with separate cinema and conference screens.

Smith added: "We looked at the Brunton Theatre programming and we realised that there was an opportunity to build on the successes of that, and use the venue upstairs for some of the larger scale rock and pop events.

"We can also add cinema, which we were unable to do in the venue downstairs because of its size. The whole plan is to complement the theatre programme and work across the two spaces. We will also be looking at alternative film content such as National Theatre Live."

Major front-of-house improvements to the hall include a new passenger lift. Backstage, the existing passenger lift has been upgraded for service use and the backstage areas are now completely accessible.

Dressing rooms, showering facilities, green room and wardrobe have been built in space reclaimed from the main hall. The hall does not, however, have a fly-tower so most drama will be retained in the 300 seat main Brunton Theatre.

Chief technician Ian Curtis told The Stage: "The technology that has gone in here is state of the art - the majority of the venue could be run off an iPad. The biggest challenge was to try and give each type of use an equal share. But when it comes to gigs, this is now a plug-and-play venue."

The upgrade has been accompanied with a re-brand. Previously known as the Brunton Hall the purpose-built building, which was opened in 1971, will now be known simply as the Brunton.