Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, and More Save New York's Famed Drama Book Shop
Miranda, Kail, and their Hamilton producers Jeffrey Seller and James L. Nederlander have stepped in to buy the shop.
The Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and a team comprising Hamilton writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, and producers James L. Nederlander and Jeffrey Seller, have purchased the legendary Drama Book Shop and will reopen the independent bookstore in a new location in 2019.
The bookshop, which also houses the Arthur Seelen Theatre, will close its doors at its West 40th Street location on January 20. A rent hike from $18,000 to $30,000 has made the site, the shop's home since 2001, unaffordable.
After learning of the store's imminent closure in October, Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin stepped in to see if there was anything New York City could do to help. Menin and New York City joined the endeavor in November after learning that Miranda and Kail, along with Seller and Nederlander, were interested in looking for a long-term solution.
After a discussion of desired square footage, rent numbers, and suitable neighborhoods, MOME and the buyers toured spaces in the theater district that could possibly house the bookshop for the next 100 years. After many meetings and several site visits, the buyers felt confident in the city's ability to successfully move the Drama Book Shop into a location that fits their needs and signed a letter of agreement to purchase the shop from longtime owner Rozanne Seelen.
"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," Menin said in a statement. "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."
"My first experiences directing in New York City were at the Arthur Seelen Theatre in the basement of the Drama Book Shop," Kail added. "Thanks to the generosity of owners Allen Hubby and Rozanne Seelen, I had a small theater company that was in residence there for five years. I was lucky enough to be there the day the shop opened on 40th Street on December 3, 2001, and I am delighted to be part of this group that will ensure the Drama Book Shop lives on."
"As a teen, I went to the @dramabookshop on 47th," Miranda tweeted. "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."