Composer, playwright and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, who composed and starred in the Broadway hit musical Hamilton, has teamed up with his theatre friends to save a much-loved New York City bookshop after the city’s soaring rents pushed it to the brink of closure.
Family-run ‘Drama Book Shop’ in Manhattan has been alighting the souls and imaginations of bookworms and actors since 1917. It specialises in books on theatre and film, houses 8000 play manuscripts and even has a small experimental theatre inside. It was in the basement of this bookshop that New York-born Miranda wrote his breakout musical In The Heights. A customer since his youth, he immediately stepped in to take action when he heard that the cultural institution was set to close.
Miranda told the New York Times: “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 the money to buy them … when we heard that the rent increase was finally too precipitous to withstand, we began hatching a plan.”
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) January 8, 2019
Miranda, along with director Thomas Kail, producer Jeffrey Seller and theatre owner James L Nederlander have plans to bring a new chapter to Drama Book Shop. The store, which was recognised with a Tony ‘Honour for Excellence’ in 2011, will still close on 20 January but the Hamilton collaborators purchased the store and its 155,000 items from Rozanne Seelen, who had managed the family shop with her late husband since 1969.
Writing on Twitter, Miranda said: “As a teen, I went to the @dramabookshop on 47th. Spent hours reading plays. Felt made for me, a place to go. In 2002, I met with Tommy Kail in the Drama Book Shop. It gave us a place to go. Proud to be part of this next chapter. A place for you to go.”
Drama Book Shop’s current home is on 250 West 40th Street, opposite the offices of the New York Times. The four men will find a new location in the city for shop when it closes on 20 January with an opening date scheduled for autumn.