The Drama Book Shop Lives On: Thanks To Lin-Manuel Miranda
Just when you think you can’t love Lin-Manuel Miranda more than you already do, he pulls something like this. On January 8th, news broke that Lin-Manuel Miranda and his Hamilton co-creators came to the rescue of the Drama Book Shop by purchasing and saving it from permanent closure. This was tremendous news to theater patrons who regard the Drama Book Shop as a staple in the theater community, past, present and future.
The century-old bookstore contains scripts, sheet music, theater history books, and other related material. The New York Times recently reported that “in 2011 it was recognized with a Tony honor for excellence — but has struggled to survive the brutal Times Square real estate market and recently announced that it was being forced to move from its current location.” Miranda and his Hamilton co-creators, Thomas Kail (Director), Jeffrey Seller (Lead Producer) and the James L. Nederlander Organization will see that the bookstore, which is currently located on West 40th street, finds a new home at a more affordable space in Midtown.
The last experience I had at the Drama Book Shop was several years ago. I was looking for a play to use for a directing course I was taking at the time and had no idea where to begin. I vividly remember walking into the store and being overwhelmed (in a positive way).
Every resource you could ever need or want as a theater fan, participant, or educator was at your fingertips.
Not only that, the sales associates at the store were more than willing to help you find what you needed. What’s more, they were thrilled to do so. I found the script for my course in about a half hour, but spent about three hours in the store browsing and marveling that such a place actually existed.
I decided to take a trip to the store the day this news broke.
If you’ve never been, the shop sits humbly on 40th street between 7th and 8th. Upon entering, I could immediately feel an air of excitement. It was about 6:45 p.m. and the shop was set to close in fifteen minutes, yet there were still at least thirty people there. Some were sitting at a table, reading from a script while others were browsing plays and sifting through the stack of historical playbills. Eager booksellers were providing recommendations to a group of theater students. In light of the upcoming relocation, many of the shelves were bare. In ordinary circumstances, this would be a negative sight to store visitors. A sign of ending, finality, and ultimately, sadness. However, the news that day turned the sight of those empty shelves into excitement and happiness. Something extraordinary. Lin-Manuel Miranda tends to do that: make something ordinary extraordinary.
What strikes me the most about this situation is that it’s a perfect example of the positive impact of honoring and giving back to your community.
This is something that Lin-Manuel Miranda has steadfastly believed, preached and conveyed through his written work. Having written much of his first hit Broadway show, In the Heights, in the Drama Book Shop, Miranda has deep personal ties that span over a decade and despite his massive success over the past several years, he has not forgotten his roots.
This is a true marker that the theater community is tight knit. It shows that, in a time of true need, people will step up and come together to achieve a goal. More importantly, those who are the biggest, most successful stars in the business just might be the ones to do it.