Lin-Manuel Miranda, 'Hamilton' team save famed Drama Book Shop

Sandy Kenyon Image
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
'Hamilton' team saves famed Drama Book Shop
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Sandy Kenyon reports on the Drama Book Shop in Manhattan.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Most Broadway shows won't reopen until after Labor Day from their coronavirus pandemic shutdown, but one neighborhood favorite will be back in business Friday.

The Drama Book Shop is where Lin-Manuel Miranda used to study in high school -- and where he developed his first big show "In the Heights."

He never forgot his roots there and joined with other collaborators from his hit musical "Hamilton" to buy the place.

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Call it a new beginning for a story more than a century in the making, another chapter in a tale that began in 1917 when the Drama Book Shop first opened in the theater district.

The store has been forced to move and survived a flood, and its rebirth was delayed by COVID-19. But now, it's back thanks to a couple guys who created Broadway magic in its basement.

Miranda was still in college when he thought up the idea for the stage musical that has been adapted for a movie opening this weekend, while Thomas Kail directed the Broadway show.

Neither has forgotten where they came from, not even after they soared into the stratosphere together.

"It was an incubator," Kail said. "It was a place we could go and develop and grow something. And some things never made it out of that basement, and a few of them did. So it feels really symbolic, in like, something rhymes, that the store is opening just as the movie comes out."

At the height of "Hamilton" mania, Miranda appeared to sign books at the old shop and proved his loyalty forever when a pipe burst and ruined so much inside.

In 2016, he urged his fans to turn out and support the store.

"It saved us," then-owner Rozanne Seelen said. "It saved us. It literally saved the book shop."

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Now, the shop has been restored in all of its glory as a haven, all thanks to those who reached the highest level of the industry and never forgot the place where they first found inspiration.

Miranda and Kail are joined by Hamilton's lead producer Jeffrey Sellers and theater owner James Nederlander Jr. in co-owning the Drama Book Shop.

It's a labor of love, for sure, as none of them are doing to make money.

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