Lin-Manuel Miranda and NYC team up to save Theater District’s 100-year-old Drama Book Shop

January 8, 2019

Via Google Street View

One of New York City’s go-to spots for thespians and Broadway lovers will remain open after all, the New York Times reported Tuesday. Lin-Manuel Miranda and three “Hamilton” associates, along with the city, have purchased the Drama Book Shop, saving it from impending closure. The independent bookseller announced in October it would have to close its doors due to rising rents in the Times Square neighborhood. But with investment from Miranda and his team, and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), the Drama Book Shop will reopen this fall at a new location within the theater district.

“The Drama Book Shop is beloved by New York City’s theatre community, and we simply could not stand by and watch a uniquely New York independent bookstore disappear,” Julie Menin, commissioner of MOME, said in a press release.

“We are delighted to be playing a part in assuring this vital cultural resource can remain in midtown, for New Yorkers and tourists from all over the world to enjoy, and we know it will be in extremely capable hands.”

Since its founding in 1917, the Drama Book Shop has been known for its extensive collection of plays, monologues, music books, and other drama-related works. The store, which has a 60-seat theater in its basement, has been located at 250 West 40th Street since 2001.

The store’s owner Rozanne Seelen, whose late husband bought it in 1958, planned to close the Midtown store after she was told the rent would rise from $18,000/month to $30,000/month. As Patch reported in October, Seelen had been using personal savings to keep the store open. The Drama Book Shop will close its West 40th Street location on Jan. 20 as the new owners look for a new location.

In addition to the city, the new owners include Miranda, Thomas Kail, the director of “Hamilton,” Jeffery Seller, the show’s lead producer, and James Nederlander, the president of the Nederlander Organization.

Miranda would go to the book store as a teenager to read plays, the Broadway star shared in a tweet on Tuesday. “In 2002, I met with Tommy Kail in the Drama Book Shop. It gave us a place to go. Proud of this next chapter. A place for you to go.”

In an interview with the Times, Miranda said: “When I was in high school I would go to the old location and sit on the floor and read plays–I didn’t have money to buy them. After college, Tommy Kail and I met in the Drama Book Shop basement, and I wrote a good deal of ‘In the Heights’ there.”

According to the city, the new owners toured spaces in the theater district that could become the book store’s new home for the next 100 years. A location will be announced soon, along with its 2019 opening date.

The Drama Book Shop is not the only independent shop saved from closure this month. It was reported earlier this month that beloved McNally Jackson Books would be staying put in Soho at its long-time home on Prince Street, despite threats of a 136 percent rent increase.

[Via NY Times]


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