Maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda really can do everything. When Broadway’s favorite bookstore — The Drama Book Shop — was evicted from its longtime Theater District home in January, Miranda and some influential pals came to its rescue.
But as any New Yorker knows to their bones, the only thing riskier than an audition is pinning your dreams to real estate wishes. So today’s news is welcomed: The Drama Book Shop will reopen its doors in March at its new location — 266 West 39th Street — just a block south of the previous one.
Stuffed with scripts, librettos, monologues and any other books about or needed by the theater community, the independent bookstore had been a district mainstay for more than 100 years (though not in the same location). Squeezed out of its building by Manhattan’s ever-costly real estate market, the store announced its closing.
That’s when Miranda and three Hamilton colleagues — director Thomas Kail, lead producer Jeffrey Seller and theater owner/impresario James L. Nederlander — collectively bought the store and, with considerable help and guidance from Julie Menin, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner, found a new location, where they will keep the operation running.
“The Drama Book Shop is the heart and soul of the New York theater community,” Miranda said in a statement. “It’s been an oasis in midtown for a century of storytellers and theater fans alike — a safe space to gather, to learn and to find great books and music.”
The Hamilton creator continued: “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.”
Kail explained why the place meant so much to him. “I was in the Drama Book Shop most days of the week from December 2001 until May 2005. 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 design for the new store was overseen by creative director David Korins, aiming for atmosphere “inspired by European cafés of the last century and their role in the exchange and celebration of ideas” (as described in the opening announcement). See a rendering above.
A specific opening date will be announced soon. Said Miranda: “To the next generation of dramatists, actors, directors, composers, choreographers, designers, and theater enthusiasts: the stage is set…Come in. Discover. Enjoy.”
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