Hamilton lyricist and actor Lin Manuel Miranda graced the media this week when it was reported that he had saved a New York bookshop from closing. Based on West 40th Street in Manhattan, The Drama Book Shop was forced to close due to an increase in rent, but will now only go on a hiatus on Sunday January 20th while the new owners find a home for the bookstore.
The Drama Book Shop was founded in 1917 by the Drama League, but didn’t become an independent bookshop until 1923. The bookshop received Tony for Honor for Excellence in the Theatre in 2011. The shop stocks around 8,000 plays. Not only does the shop stock books and plays, but also houses a 60-seat black box theatre. It assists theatre professionals, thousands of drama students, and even award-winning artists.
Miranda’s fondness for the bookshop shines through in a statement on Twitter: “As a teen, I went to the Drama Book Shop 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 a part of this next chapter. A place for you to go.”
It wasn’t just Miranda who helped save this bookshop. He teamed up with Thomas Kail, the director of Hamilton, and Jeffrey Seller, the lead producer. The bookshop has personal connections to the new owners, who frequented the bookstore often when they were building their careers.
Although this may be his biggest save, this is not Miranda’s first. When a pipe burst back in February 2016, Miranda urged fans to help with the hashtag #buyabook, tweeting, “The @dramabookshop is not only the best place to get theater-related ANYTHING, I wrote most of In The Heights there. Pls support. #BuyABook.” This resulted in a dramatic increase in sales, with customers calling in and requesting sometimes even $200 worth of books.
Miranda purchased the bookshop from 84 year-old Rozanne Seelen, who sold the bookshop for the cost of the remaining inventory, rental support, and a promise that she’d remain as a consultant.
In an interview Seelen said, ‘Lin-Manuel and Tommy are my white knights.’