NEW YORK CITY: Last fall the Drama Book Shop shocked the theatre field when it announced that due to a substantial rent hike on its 40th Street storefront in midtown Manhattan, it would close its doors. But after a large outpouring of support from the community, Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda has stepped in and taken over ownership of the 101-year-old institution. He plans to reopen the new Drama Book Shop in March 2020, just a block away from the old book shop, on 266 West 39th Street.
“The Drama Book Shop is the heart and soul of the New York theatre community,” Miranda said in a statement. “It’s been an oasis in midtown for a century of storytellers and theatre fans alike—a safe space to gather, to learn, and to find great books and music. I found my collaborators there. I wrote drafts of In the Heights there. Freestyle Love Supreme was born there. I made sure the first book-signing of Hamilton: The Revolution was held there. The Drama Book Shop is home.”
It had seemed that by late 2018, the Book Shop (which stocks playscripts, biographies, educational materials, and periodicals like American Theatre) would fall prey to the Amazon effect, with more people buying scripts online rather than going to a physical store.
But Miranda teamed up with Hamilton director Thomas Kail, producer Jeffrey Seller, and theatre owner James L. Nederlander to take over ownership of the Drama Book Shop and find it a new home. They also received assistance from Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment commissioner Julie Menin.
“I was in the Drama Book Shop most days of the week from December 2001 until May 2005,” said Kail in a statement. “My career started there. My life in New York City started there. I am proud to be part of this group that will reintroduce this vital source of inspiration for our city, and present countless others the same opportunity that it provided me and so many others.”
The new Drama Book Shop’s storefront will be designed by set designer David Korins. Like the old location, it will include a basement where artists can workshop new projects. Unlike the former space, it will also sell coffee.
Says Miranda: “To the next generation of dramatists, actors, directors, composers, choreographers, designers, and theatre enthusiasts: The stage is set…Come in. Discover. Enjoy.”