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Broadway shows aren’t back until September but the theatre world will soon have one of its mainstays open for business. The Drama Book Shop, a 104-year-old specialty store that was most recently located at 250 West 40th Street, is set to reopen on June 10 at 266 West 39th Street.
The store will have new owners at the helm, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and three of his show collaborators: director Thomas Kail, lead producer Jeffrey Seller, and theater owner James L. Nederlander. The group bought the shop in 2019 with investment help from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Then-owner Rozanne Seelen, whose late husband bought the shop in 1958, was going to close down due to rising rent costs.
At that time, the new owners were planning on reopening later in the year but pushed back their plans to March 2020 — and we all know what happened then. The new opening date is just one day after the premiere of Miranda’s film adaptation of In the Heights, an early musical he wrote mostly in the shop’s basement.
“For me, The Drama Book Shop has always been the heart and soul of the New York City theatre community,” Miranda said in a recent press statement. “I sat and read plays there in high school. I discovered incredible artists and new works through staff recommendations. I wrote so many songs from In The Heights in the basement there. I’m excited for the next generation of storytellers and theatre lovers to come in, explore, and be inspired.”
The interior of the new location has been designed by Hamilton set designer David Korins who was inspired by old European cafes. “We wanted to create a space where we were looking back into the past and into the future, so the space is carved up like a reading room cafe, with a tin ceiling, aged with patinas, and mix and match furniture,” he told the Times in 2019. There will be the usual stock of scripts, librettos, and books as well as a coffee shop and a gathering space for classes and screenings in the basement.
Store hours are 9am – 8pm on weekdays, 10am – 8pm on Saturdays, and noon – 6pm on Sundays. Capacity will be limited, so consider making a reservation online.
The Seelen Theatre was downstairs, for shows with real, live actors. Will the new shop
offer a theatre?
At the moment I can’t confirm that. The press materials we received mention a gathering space in the basement suitable for classes and readings, but no mention of live shows. We’ll keep an eye out for more info!
Thanks for reading,
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