Behind The Coat - Jonny Weston
Posted 17th February 2020
We sit down with Jonny Weston, a current Red Coat who’s part of the Front of House team at the Adelphi Theatre.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of our famed Red Coat Butlers – a service unique to LW Theatres. Donning their bright coattails, these are the people that add an extra dash of magic to a guest’s theatre trip.
“My father used to say, you don’t want to work Front of House – you either want to be on the stage or in the auditorium watching the show. He’s now come to realise how wrong he is. I wish I’d been working Front of House for a long time.”
Since moving from Birmingham to train at Italia Conti (which boasts Naomi Campbell, Louise Redknapp, Ben Forster and Pixie Lott as alumni), Jonny Weston joined the Adelphi Theatre following graduation. “Naturally I went to the Adelphi, because that’s where I saw my first West End show: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Andrew Lloyd Webber granted Lee Mead the role in my living room (Mead famously won the TV show Any Dream Will Do). And it was like, that’s the place I want to work.”
And he did just that. But it was seeing a colleague in the Red Coat get-up, whilst working a shift over at Theatre Royal Drury Lane that would spark his interest. “He looked amazing,” says Weston. “I just thought, wow, you’re important and you’ve inspired me. And I don’t even know what you do.”
In his true get up and go style, Weston jumped at the chance to apply for a role as a Red Coat and impressed so much he became the very first one at the Adelphi Theatre.
“The best part of the job is seeing our patrons get so much more than they thought they would,” says Weston. “We’re not in competition with what they’re about to see on the West End, but why can’t the show start at the front doors? That’s my favourite part, putting on my little show.”
And sometimes the audience can include a famous face. Weston describes Antonio Banderas as “the most down to earth man”, speaks highly of Grammy nominee and Waitress composer, Sara Bareilles, (“We emailed once. I’d like to think we’re friends, she might disagree”) and talks about seeing Gary Barlow in the flesh, where a “no, thank you” in his Mancunian drawl was more than enough for the long time Take That fan.
As a Red Coat, Weston has learnt to expect the unexpected; never quite knowing who will walk through those doors. And people come from far and wide. Weston describes a guest who had travelled from America and booked a hospitality experience on her own. ”She had six months to live and was going out with a bang,” he explains. “I thought okay I have two and a half hours to give this woman the time of her life. Thinking about it just changes the room. I felt so honoured that, through fate, I was a part of her story.”
He continues, “Everyone is special because they each come with a story. It’s about catering to the person. But that comes with experience. Being a Red Coat means having a responsibility to give the patron everything and more.”
And now, with 30 years of the Red Coats in service, they’ve become more important than ever. “The thought of being there when it hits 30 years, I feel very, very lucky,” says Weston.
“To see (the red coat) and to put it on, you just feel like royalty, you feel so special. And I still feel that every single day. It’s not a costume. It’s now become an extension of me as a person.”
With two years under his belt, what’s next for Jonny ‘Red Coat’ Weston? He vows to wear his LW Theatres cufflinks on his wedding day (when the time comes) but other than that, he’s content with living in the now. “I’m not going to deny that 99% of us have trained and want to be on the stage but it’s about enjoying the journey,” says Weston. “And turning up in that building every day as a Red Coat, I’m going to have the time of my life. Let’s see where the future takes me, but right now, I’m happy as Larry.”