How did Lin-Manuel Miranda and friends revamp an old bookstore?


A sculptural representation of a bookworm — 140 feet of scripts and songbooks, twisted with a steel skeleton — corkscrews at the Drama Bookshop in Manhattan. It begins with Ancient Greek texts and, 2,400 volumes later, expands into a pile that includes “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”.

This 3,500-pound tribute to theatrical history is the centerpiece of a century-old bookstorenew location, opening thursday at West 39th Street.

The store – like many bookstores across the country – was brushed with death, not only because of e-commerce but also by fire and Flooding, before facing a rent increase Couldn’t stand it in 2018. The beloved institution, where students, artists, scholars and fans could browse memoirs and bone up for auditions, was in danger of closure.

Then came an unexpected rescue. Four men enriched by “Hamilton”, including the music’s producer, Lin-Manuel Miranda; its director, Thomas Kail; its principal producer, Jeffrey Seller; and the theater’s owner, James L. netherlander, shop bought from its longtime owners. Cal has a particularly close relationship with the shop—20 years ago, just out of college, he formed a small theater company in its basement. After working with Miranda, the two worked there on ‘In the Heights’.

“I was not born in the trunk; I was born in the basement of a drama book shop,” said Cal. “All my early creative conversations and relationships were forged in that shop, and the thought of it was painful. I couldn’t imagine New York City without it, and I don’t want to imagine New York City without it.” was.”

Bookstore is opening on the same day that A film adaptation of “In the Heights” It is scheduled to be released in theaters and on HBO Max, and Cal noted the thematic connections.

“‘The Heights’ is about an isolated place in Manhattan where rents are rising and businesses are being forced out,” he said. “There’s a clear and clear line.”

“Hamilton” Team closed The store’s previous location on West 40th Street in January 2019 and put its contents into storage, hoping to reopen at a designated location later that year. But New York real estate is what it is, find the place And rebuilding it took longer than anticipated. Then came the pandemic, closing cinemas, disrupting retail and tourism sectors, and silencing Midtown.

Now, the drama bookshop is back, just as Broadway is set to return late in the summer. “Since all the theaters are starting to give dates, it looks like we’re part of that early gesture,” Cal said.

Visitors can pick up books about the theater (including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s current-titled memoir, “Unmasked”) as well as “the play that just won an award and the play no one has heard of, Cal said. The store will also sell rare books, such as the first edition of “Three Tall Women” signed by Edward Albee, and the first edition of “West Side Story.”

Like many bookstores, the owners hope to increase their income with a coffee bar and food. But there’s a personal flourish: The coffees sold will feature a Puerto Rico blend—part of Miranda’s effort to support farmers on the island where her parents are from.

“My hope is that we can continue to be a hub for the theater community,” Miranda said. “I don’t expect we’ll make a great fortune, but I hope we’ll break even with coffee.”

The interior – 3,500 square feet on the main floor, as well as a 3,000 square foot basement – is designed by “Hamilton” set designer David Corrins. There’s an octagonal banquette inspired by a piece of furniture in the 1940 film “The Shop Around the Corner” and, for “Hamilton” fans, a pair of armchairs that are replicas of George Washington sitting during the Cabinet Battle of Music.

The walls feature more than 125 theater-themed posters, of which 17 (“Crazy for You” (“Spider Woman, Kiss”) given to Cal by literary agent Gilbert Parker, just before He passed away in 2019. dog photo too chester, a German Spitz who often lived near the door in the previous place; Chester is alive and well, a spokesman said, but the food is now being sold that is not allowed by health regulations.

The priests are anticipating a variety of events, such as book signings and author talks. And the basement – ​​which is not yet finished, but which houses a piano on which “Pascia y Fe”, a song from “In the Heights” was written – will be used for workshops and other events.

A spokesman said six people who worked at the store’s former location are joining the staff again.

Due to continued concern about the coronavirus, the store will have a capacity limit when it opens; Owner is recommending people make free reservations OnlineBut there will be a line for those without reservation as well.

When asked what he expected to see once the store opens, Corrins said, “Everyone would expect the next Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tommy Kail to be sitting there, crafting their next project.”

Source link