It’s a few days after the Broadway opening of “Here Lies Love,” the David Byrne/Fatboy Slim poperetta that charts the rise and fall of the Philippines’s infamous first couple, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. And here sits Jose Llana — he plays Ferdinand — in the kitchen of the Hamptons, N.Y., weekend house he shares with his husband, Erik Rose, a real estate executive.
At home, the Filipino-born Mr. Llana, 47, seems a perfect lamb. But onstage, he glowers with the best of them. There he is eight times a week, imposing martial law. There he was in the 2015 Lincoln Center production of “The King and I,” imposing his will as the ruler of Siam (and replacing Ken Watanabe). He also starred in the subsequent tours of “The King and I” around the United States and Britain.
It is good to be king. The tidy sum Mr. Llana earned — and saved — during his reign on the road went far toward financing the Hamptons getaway, a shingle-style house that’s fit for a, well, you know, with a pool on a landscaped acre-and-a-half lot.
“It was an incredible thing to be able to come back after all that time and say, ‘OK, what are we going to do with this lump of cash we now have?’” recalled Mr. Llana.
The answer? “Let’s finally put it into a house that we’ve been talking about wanting to buy for years.”
They briefly considered Bucks County, Pa., because Mr. Rose’s best friend has a house there. “Ultimately, though, we centered on the Hamptons,” Mr. Llana said.
Jose Llana, 47
Time out: “Sometimes I’m in our apartment and I think, ‘I only have 24 hours. Do I really want to go out to the Hamptons?’ But the second the jitney turns into the South Fork, and I start to see trees, my shoulders drop.”
But where in the Hamptons? A house hard by shops and restaurants would have been convenient, for sure, but also would have meant proximity to teeming humanity — exactly what the couple was leaving their Gramercy Park two-bedroom to escape. A place on the water was another nonstarter; Mr. Llana and Mr. Rose are not beach people. They are, most ardently, family people.
Thus, the decision to choose a large house (almost 5,000 square feet) with six bedrooms in a wooded section of the East End of Long Island. They made an offer on the property in January of 2020 and were able to close in April despite the arrival of Covid-19.
“The house became a wonderful refuge for us, and for my sister and her husband and their two kids, who live in Boston but moved in with us for five months,” Mr. Llana said.
Post-pandemic, the house was the site of a 70th birthday celebration for Mr. Rose’s father, with both families in attendance. “Six bedrooms means we can have everyone here at the same time,” Mr. Llana said.
Guests can choose, among other sleeping quarters, the appropriately named Blue Room, which has an indigo quilt decorated with a map of the Hamptons, including a sewn-in heart to mark the Llana-Rose home. On the walls: a raft of Filipino paintings.
The Pink Room is accessorized with a pink silk orchid, a pink upholstered bench, a watercolor by Mr. Llana’s 98-year-old grandmother and a five-foot-tall giraffe sculpture made from recycled flip-flops.
“My husband has a slight obsession with giraffes, because he is tall and gangly like a giraffe,” said Mr. Llana, who has a smaller version of the sculpture in his dressing room at the Broadway Theatre.
For the record, the couple do not host just family members; they also host the possessions of family members. Some years ago, when Mr. Llana’s mother, an accomplished cook, downsized from a house to an apartment, she expressed concern on Facebook that it would mean jettisoning her cherished cookbook collection
Mr. Llana swung into action. “I called and told her, ‘Don’t. Don’t let them go. I will pay to put them in storage, because you know someday we might buy a house and we can keep them there.’”
Someday is now. The books, from “Coconut Kitchen” to “The Joy of Cooking,” sit on shelves in the alcove library upstairs, jostling for space with Mr. Llana’s voluminous stash of Playbills, one from every show he has ever seen. On the library walls are small, framed posters of the shows he has appeared in. The spillover — including oversized lobby and front-of-theater placards (a few of them pilfered, but never mind) — is tucked away in the basement.
The heart of the house is the double-height great room. The marine palette (blue and white) is a nod to the location. The fabric that covers the expansive sectional and the ottoman (tweed denim) is a nod to the owners’ “nothing-is-too-precious-here” attitude.
“We want people to be able to sit and not worry that they’re going to put a stain on something,” Mr. Llana said. “Erik will always go for more high-end, aesthetically beautiful, modern pieces. And I’ll be like, ‘Well, is it comfortable?’ and we land somewhere in the middle.”
Toward the end of last year, the couple sold their apartment on East 23rd Street and moved into a one-bedroom rental in NoMad. The death of their beloved Boston terrier, Charlie, was a driver in the decision. “That second bedroom had become a very expensive doggy-day-care room,” Mr. Llana said.
But he and Mr. Rose had also moved a lot of the things they cared about to the house and didn’t need as much space in the city.
“I would never have said we were Hamptons people, until we had more and more friends here who I never would have thought of as Hamptons people either,” Mr. Llana said. “There’s this weird connotation, you know: Hamptons people are this negative thing.”
He continued: “Erik and I both grew up in very middle-class families, if not lower-middle-class. We didn’t have weekend homes; we didn’t have friends who had weekend homes. I was an immigrant. My parents came to the United States with nothing.”
He paused, clearly at pains to get this just right. “But you know, we’re in our late 40s, and both of our careers have really picked up. And I think for the first time we’re saying that we’re allowed to enjoy a little bit of the fruits of our labors and to create something that our families can enjoy.
“What I’m trying to say,” he concluded, “is that we’ve worked hard to get here. So maybe we are Hamptons people after all.”
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