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Theater community rallies behind the Drama Book Shop

The theater community is reaching out to support the Drama Book Shop after a rent increase has priced the store out of its current location.

Lin-Manuel Miranda kicked off an effort to support the Drama Book Shop. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

The theater community is reaching out to support the Drama Book Shop after a rent increase has priced the store out of its current location.

Lin-Manuel Miranda stopped by the store Thursday to sign materials related to “In the Heights,” “Hamilton” as well as his recently published book, “Gmorning, Gnight!,” all of which sold out at the store in about 30 minutes. In addition to Miranda, playwrights including “In the Heights” book writer Quiara Alegría Hudes and Kristoffer Diaz signed their published works at the store Thursday in an effort to boost sales.

The bookstore, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, will move out of its 40th Street location after its lease expires at the end of January, Crain’s reported. The Drama Book Shop has been at 250 West 40th Street since 2001, but the owner told Crain’s that they cannot afford the proposed 50% rent increase.

As the store looks to move to a new location, Miranda and other members of the theater community sought to support the transition. Miranda’s tweet, sent close to noon, sent a flurry of customers to the store and books flying off the shelves.

“Immediately there was this sort of descending of Lin followers and we sold out,” said Marcus Colleran, a manager at the Drama Book Shop.

Miranda then called on other composers and playwrights to autograph their published work at the store.

Signed copies of books, plays and scores at the bookstore are sold for list price, Colleran said, but the act helps bring new attention to the store and serves as a reminder for its long-time friends to come back.

Miranda, who workshopped early versions of “In the Heights” at The Drama Book Stop, previously helped raise money for the store in 2016, when a pipe burst and destroyed a quarter of the merchandise in the store.

Hudes signed copies of her plays Thursday, including the Pulitizer Prize-winning “Water By the Spoonful” and “Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue,” at the Drama Book Shop. For Hudes, the store is both a repository of knowledge and a shared space for the theater community.

“I love digital community. For instance, I use Twitter to connect with artists I’d never meet in the flesh,” Hudes wrote in an email to Broadway News. “But bricks and mortar community cannot be replaced. It is the bedrock. Gathering spaces are how we build traditions, where we grow generations. Ask any young playwright or actor who’s ever stepped foot in New York–was the Drama Book Shop a mecca for your path of learning, a sanctuary for your heart?”

“These play scripts are not found on the shelves of major retailers. The Drama Book Shop is a treasure chest containing rare finds,” Hudes said. “It is part of what makes New York so special.”

Kristoffer Diaz signed copies of his plays “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” and “Welcome to Arroyo’s” Thursday evening. In an email, Diaz said he came to the Drama Book Shop “because Lin asked,” but also because he was been frequenting the store for 20 years and wanted to support “its mission.”

Outside of purchasing items at the store, fans have stepped up and started a GoFundMe campaign for The Drama Book Shop with a goal of raising $20,000.

The store is still evaluating new locations for next year, but, as Colleran noted, it will likely need to find another spot within the theater district, given its clientele and materials.

“We have to be near the theaters and that comes with midtown and midtown prices,” he said.